Baby on a Roll

We finally have a “normal” baby. When Sophie was little, we (like most parents) scoured the parenting books for clues about her development. At 6 months, she should be sleeping through the night, putting things in her mouth, and be attracted to bright objects. For Sophie, the answer was No, No, No. She had no interest in “age appropriate” toys, and got bored with whatever was in front of her. She kept most things out of her mouth (which was good, since we didn’t want to go and buy the Costco bottle of Purell), and had this need to see new things all the time. When you’re (more or less) housebound during the winter, there’s only so many new things you can show a child.

Don’t ask me why, but with Maggs we got a “normal” one. She (usually) sleeps better than Sophie did, she’s easily amused by bright and shiny objects (like her dad), and we know that we when put her somewhere we can usually get 10 minutes of quiet time.

Of course, that is all coming to an end.

Maggie has begun the first steps in rocking our world, crawling. Now it’s just a backwards scoot, but we can no longer leave her alone on the floor, confident that she’ll be in the same place when we return. So, we’ve had to go and get “Studio 54” set up (the corral which we used for Sophie), and get Maggie some space in the playroom. Of course, now that Studio 54 is back, Sophie has commandeered it, calling it “My House”. Sorry Maggie, that’s what happens when you’re #2. Maybe we can find a cardboard box for you.

Loving the 80’s

Kristen over at Motherhood Uncensored was nice enough to rent some space out this past week, and she also promoted my blog, and sent some people over to this little corner. She also added the proviso that I complete some 80’s meme. I’m not even sure was meme is, but it has “me” in it twice, so it must be important.

From what I could determine, you were supposed to determine your 80’s likeness. I don’t know if that really exists for me, since my 80’s attire alternated between skinny ties, Hawaiian shirts, and sweatpants (that would be the college years).

Instead, I figured I would just grab an 80’s alter-ego, or at least an aspirational alter-ego.

Here’s the 80’s character I wish I was:

That’s right – Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller. The only guy I know who could get away with wearing a t-shirt and a vest…on his day off from school. Also note those socks, I believe they’re argyle. I didn’t pick Ferris for his fashion choices, but for his mad skillz (as the kids say today). After all, who else can call in sick, get a whole town to rally around him (don’t forget the “Save Ferris” graffiti on the water tower), and still have time to take in a Cubs game.

Of course, in reality, I was more like another John Hughes character:

No, not Kelly LeBrock, Anthony Michael Hall. Unfortunately, not the Dead Zone “I have powers beyond your wildest dreams” AMH, but the geeky, Blues Fakin’, Weird Science makin’ AMH. Why AMH? He always seemed to think he was way cooler than we was, and there was little redemption for him throughout the whole movie (except, of course, towards the end).

There you go, Kristen. All in the name of finding my inner 80’s.

Miffy is a Communist!

I was watching Miffy the other day (just checking out what Sophie watches), and after seeing a few episodes, I came to the inevitable conclusion – Miffy is nothing more than a shill for communism! Before you laugh, let me explain:

In one episode, Miffy is speaking to her father – she would like to have a doghouse for her dog Snuffy. I guess Snuffy has been sleeping down in Miffy’s basement, and now needs a place of her own. To get this space built, father will need some wood. Miffy suggests visiting Boris Bear (even the name drips with symbolism). She says that Boris has a lot of wood, and should have plenty to spare for the Miffy family. Father agrees, saying it’s a good idea.

Miffy goes to visit Boris Bear, who not only is more than happy to give them all the lumber they need, free of charge, he also offers to cut the wood so that all they have to do is simply put it together. They take the wood home, build Snuffy’s house, and all is right with the world.

Put it all together – Boris (the Russian Bear) is happy to give away his lumber. After all, he follows the tenet that those with the greatest ability should provide for those with the greatest need. Who has a greater need than a rabbit without opposing thumbs?

In the next episode, Miffy needs a dollhouse for her doll. Once again, Boris is the source for their supplies. Once again, Boris is happy to provide them with all their needs without thought of any remuneration. This time, however, there is a wrinkle. Along the ride home, Miffy’s doll somehow gets thrown from the car and is lost in the deep dark forest. The forest where only the strongest survive; the forest of Capitalism.

What can they do? Is the doll lost forever? Will she become just another prol in the service of the bourgeoisie? Don’t worry, all is not lost. Snuffy, who is now a full-blown Marxist, leaps down, and runs off into the forest. He returns shortly with the doll, saving yet another soul from the evils of big industry.

Don’t believe me yet? A few minutes later, there is another scene, this time a little game that the narrator plays with Miffy and Poppy Pig. What is the name of the game? “The Same Game” – that’s right, the goal of the game is to have both players with the same number of items. If that doesn’t scream redistribution of wealth, I don’t know what does!

After watching this display of the New Social Order, I was amazed. How could this be shown on TV in the greatest capitalist nation on earth? I realized that it was being shown on the only kids channel without commercials, “Noggin”. How can television exist without any advertising? Impossible. Unless, of course, it’s yet another way to separate us from our capitalist roots.

My solution? I did what I had to do. Now Sophie only watches a steady diet of “Wall $treet Week” and CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. I think we can still save her.

UPDATE: Due to a request from the fine folks at Van Doorne (lawyers for Mr Miffy), I have removed the drawing of Miffy.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Sophie and I went out at the height of the blizzard this morning – two hearty souls going for a ride out in the snow. Well, Sophie got to ride, Dad just got to pull. We saw three people out there, and two were out with their dogs, so they weren’t out by choice. The third had a couple cups of Dunkin Donuts, so I’ll bet he wasn’t out by choice either.

We started down by Main Street, and walked all the way to the Monument, and Sophie was a trooper.

Once we got to the top, though, it got a little tough. The wind really picked up by the Monument, and we had to turn around and head back home.

Sophie tried her best to stick it out, but once the wind whipped for a few minutes, she had enough. Of course, the walk home was not fun, since she pretty quickly went from being uncomfortable to downright upset.

But, we made it back, and just like all big adventures, it will grow until it becomes a quest that approaches the achievments of Edmund Hillary.

Hacking is soooo 1983

There’s a newish website called “Parent Hacks”, which is dedicated to ways to make parenting easier. The nice thing about that site is that most of the ideas aren’t “big” ideas or changes you need to make to your life – they are small changes (or “hacks”) that can make all the difference.

In that vein, here are a few of our own “hacks”, based on over 800 days of experience:

  1. The Night Feeding/Beating: If you read a powdered formula canister, it’s easier to assemble stereo equipment than to make a bottle of formula. It requires boiling water twice, letting it cool, mixing, and feeding. We moved pretty quickly to the bottle warmer, which meant less boiling and mixing, but the warmer was incredibly sensitive. If you added 1 ml too much water, it turned a tepid bottle into a molten lava of formula, sending you back to the beginning. In addition, it usually takes about 30 seconds to a minute to heat up. In nighttime feeding baby screaming time, that’s about 25 years. The next answer was to use hot water from the tap (I’m sure that will cause some evil consequence), which reduced the risk of 3rd degree burns, but still took too much time. Finally, we hit upon the solution: A thermos, right next to the formula container, filled with water at just the right temperature. We would put that in the thermos right before bedtime, and when the call of duty came in the middle of the night, the water was nice and warm.
  2. Two hands for kids, none for lights: Betsy loves timers. Everything is on a timer. I think she would put me on one if she could. The benefit (which I have slowly realized) is that when you’re running around after two kids, the last thing that is watched is your electric bill.
  3. Diaper Chump: We have the Diaper Champ, which is the lowbrow version of the Diaper Genie. No need to buy sausage casing to wrap the diapers, but the stink level can get pretty high. Once Sophie started eating solids, the stink increased by a factor of 10. We now add an extra step when changing the diaper after #2: we shake the diaper a little into the toilet to get rid of any “solids” which can be removed. It has the additional benefit of teaching Sophie of where the “poo” ultimately goes – in the toilet. That has reduced the stink level by about 90%. Of course, if it’s a heinous/wet poo, the diaper goes into a HazMat bag and disposed of immediately.

Now it’s off to the Parent Hacks site, to see if there are any new ideas to make my life easier.

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Rolling Maggie Gathers no Dust?

Time for a Maggie update: Maggie has taken the first step in her move towards being a Rhodes scholar (or maybe a Road’s Scholar) – she has rolled over! I know it’s a big deal, all the baby books say so. I just wish I would do a better job cleaning up the floors so that Maggie didn’t turn into a rolling dust mop.

We’re even getting Sophie to cheer for her – “Hooray, Maggie!”

Temper Redux-ion

Over the last week or two, Sophie’s temper tantrums seemed to be getting worse. The final straw was on Friday, when she begged me to take her to work. I had to leave, and sadly) bolted the door when I left. It seemed like Sophie was in some big power struggle with us – was it because Maggie was in the picture?

We received all sorts of advice – you can’t give in to her, she’ll just walk all over you after this, etc. We were told that we had been giving her “too many choices” and that we had to limit the options we gave her to two at a time. We were also told to ignore her tantrums – they would work themselves out, and by responding to her tantrums you would be giving her the power.

It took Betsy (aka SuperMom)to discover what really worked. Saturday afternoon we had a doozy – we were getting ready to change her diaper, and Sophie broke down. “No diaper change! No new diaper!” We told her she had to get her diaper changed, and it was full of “potty”, but it was no use. “No diaper!” With this, it happened. She stripped off her pants and diaper, and stood there as naked as the day she was born. We couldn’t get anything on her, and we thought anything could happen at any moment. She could vomit, pee, spit fire, and who knows what else.

Betsy took the chance, and grabbed her, and held her. She talked Sophie down like a police negotiator with a jumper. After about five minutes, we wrapped a towel around her. After ten, she agreed to wear her diaper. After fifteen, all was well. It was masterful. I was really impressed, especially since our little hellion was impossible just a few minutes before.

After this, I started to think – what was it that Betsy did that made the difference? I didn’t know if I could go through all that she did to bring Sophie down, but maybe I could deal with the tantrum while it was a category 1 or 2, before it was Sophie Tsunami. I had an idea, and thought I would try it the next time around, which I suspected wouldn’t be too much later.

On Sunday, I was getting the two kids ready to go out. We had been in the house all day, and we were all bouncing off the walls. I had Maggie on my lap, and told Sophie to get her shoes. And it happened.

“No go out! No Shoes! No shoes!”

I breathed deeply. It was time.

“Sophie, come over here. Come, sit on my lap. Let’s sit here for a minute.”

That was it. It worked. By just stopping and holding her, I was able to prevent the tantrum. I was shocked and awed. For the past few weeks we had been reacting to Sophie’s tantrums by getting into “battle mode”, ready to handle whatever Sophie threw at us. The truth was, we needed to do the exact opposite – embrace the tantrum, and hold Sophie until she was settled down.

I thought about how this happened, and have my own theory: So much of what we’ve done with Sophie has been to help her to become independent, or to support her while she tried to be independent. At some points, she must feel too independent, and that she needs to feel more centered, or more connected to us. Despite being able to communicate a lot of what she wants (she’ll tell us that she’s tired, hungry, hurt, etc), she couldn’t figure out why she feels the way she feels, and just breaks down.

At least that’s what my opinion is, based on my complete lack of education in psychology.

The good news is that we’ve both started reacting to her Category 1 tantrums in this way, and it’s made all the difference. No more breakdowns, no more “Sophie Tsunami”, no more running around without diapers on.

Well, that last part isn’t true. But that’s for another day.


Now that I post these entries, I’m able to recall all those things I forgot the first time around with Sophie. I suspect that my poor memory means that I have Alzheimer’s in the not too distant future (or I already have it and don’t remember).

Maggie has started to do all the “baby” things that make kids more interesting. She has started grabbed at toys and playing with them, smiling, and even laughing (although Betsy is the only person who can get a laugh out of her). Her newest activity is the half-roll. She starts to roll over, then stops herself about ¾ of the way through. I suspect she’s worried about what will happen if she actually succeeds. She may never see the world from on her back again!

We’ve also started her in the “Tilt-A-Whirl”, which is an Exersaucer. The one that Mr. Nice Guy has is so modern super-fancy…of course it looks like a jester exploded on the thing. We have an old-school 10 year old (classic I call it) version. It has about 1/20 the fancy objet d’art that the new ones have, but I don’t care. In the photo to the left it seems that Maggie is struggling just to survive the Tilt-A-Whirl, but by yesterday she was an old pro. The best part? How proud she looked in conquering the thing. She seemed to want to show us how she could stand up and play! Good Job Maggs!