Status! (Or the cover sheet to my TPS report)

One of my old bosses used to have me write a “status report” every Friday, which presumably told him what I had been doing for the past week besides playing solitare (this was before the web was available at work). The only good thing about it was that it forced me to think about my day-to-day activities on an organized basis.

Since this blog is now my master (or mistress?), maybe it makes sense to draw a line and put down where the family is at this week:

Maggie (#2) – Still doesn’t sleep at night. However, she seems to have mastered the ability to concentrate her waking hours to my “shift” (which lasts from 9pm to 1am). Once Betsy is on, she falls asleep right away. I laugh when people say, “She wanted to spend time with you.” Trust me, I am not that much fun when I am exhausted and unhappy walking around, acting as the human baby swing.

Sophie (#1) – Starting to feel her oats. Yes, we heard about the terrible twos, but we thought it might be easy since she has been pretty happy most of the time. She gets her strong will from her mother. We’re screwed. Whoever said that a parent’s curse is to have children like themselves has caused me to want to go to sleep for the next 22 years, and get to know bail bondsmen and attorneys.

Betsy (Mommy) – OK, I started typing my perception of how she’s feeling, but I feel kind of awkward announcing my diagnosis of her status on this blog to my ten readers. I’ll simply say that we’re both much happier than we were two years ago at this time. Is it having the experience in being parents? Is it the night nurses? Maybe that we see that Maggie will eventually sleep (Sophie sure does)? Maybe that we know we’ll never have to go through this again? I don’t know, but the struggles we go through today (as much as I complain) are 1000X better than when it was us & Sophie.

Me (Daddy) – Need more time to play solitare.

Happy HNT!

Here’s my first shot at Half-Nekkid Thursday, an idea from Osbasso. The plan is to expose some body part to the world. If this were five years ago I suspect my photo would involve me in New Orleans, trying to get beads. Today, however, my photos are a little more…domestic. I figured this was an easy one – with Maggie Moonbeam in the picture, how bad could I look? Of course, about 30 seconds later she was screaming, but for those few moments all was right with the world.

The Wednesday Schill

I’m not much of a gadget guy – I do have a Palm Pilot, but it’s a 2001 model. When I broke it last year I didn’t upgrade, I just went to Ebay and bought the exact same model (even though it hadn’t been made in 2 years). My international colleagues mock my phone, saying, “My grandmother owns a newer phone than that.” (In a foreign accent of course) So, when I do find some gadget that works for us, I’m really happy.

We have the Uniden 5.8Ghz phone, and it rocks. We’ve gone through several phones, and nothing even comes close. Here’s why:

5.8 GHz signal – We have a wireless network, and our old phones made the network useless when either of us was on the phone. Plus the signal is strong enough that we have no problems with the base being in our 3rd floor office, and an extension in the basement. That’s the kind of range we need.

Expandability – We need phones in almost every room, since our house is so vertical. I’d die if I had to run up & down stairs for every phone call. You can just keep adding phones to the network (up to 10).

Paging – You can use the phone to page any other phone in the house (or all phones). Betsy can be on the third floor working, and reach me while I’m goofing off down in the basement. We don’t use this function as much as I had expected, but when you need it, it’s very handy.

Room Monitor – You can monitor any phone from any other phone, which turns these phones into a whole-house baby monitor. I am a baby monitor freak, so this was a great thing to have. We can put Maggie into a swinging seat somewhere, and not worry about her waking up and us not hearing.

Speed dial/Directory – Every phone has one of these, but with this phone you can share your directories across all the units with a few taps. Really great when you program into one phone and you need the number in the other phones.

Multiple lines – We use Vonage, so having the extra fax/long distance line is key.

Do Not Disturb – When it’s nap time, you can turn all off the ringers on all the phones by pushing one button on the base.

There’s all sorts of other great functions (like being able to name each phone rather than have it “Phone #1”, “Phone #2”, etc, and all the fun Caller ID stuff), but for us, the ones I mentioned are what really make us love this phone.

OK, enough schilling already!

Fear No Apple

Yesterday we took Sophie out to that special place called, the apple orchard. That’s the place where you get to walk through a muddy field covered with rotten apples, grabbing them from the tree (denying a migrant worker a good job), and, after sampling several, putting the least mealy ones in your bag.

Now, after a description like that, I wonder why Sophie had no interest whatsoever in helping to pick the apples. I’m not sure if it was the fact that it was cold out, and she wanted to stay close to a warm body, or that she is a city child, and hasn’t been that close to more than one tree in her life.

At least we had good friends to run around the orchard with – I would put up our photos, but the batteries in our camera died after two shots. So much for the fancy rechargable batteries.

Next up, I plan to send Sophie out to work some farms in California…maybe she’ll be the next Caesar Chavez!

Who’s your papa?

One of the things which continues to fascinate me about Maggie is how different she is from Sophie. I feel like we’re living a version of “nuture vs nature”, and I’m starting to come down on the side of nature.

We thought we were ready for what to expect with Maggie, since we had already gone through it all. Of course not. With Sophie, we approached her sleep with the mantra “Sophie sleeps in Sophie’s bed in Sophie’s room.” She felt the same way, since she was never really wild about sleeping with us. The few times we tried (in desparation when she was not sleeping), she would have none of it. Sophie was no happier sleeping in our bed than she was in her own.

So, imagine our surprise when Maggie wanted nothing more than to be cuddled nice and warm in bed with her mother. We still try to follow the “Maggie sleeps in Maggie’s bed” philosophy, but we also need peace and quiet. Certainly we didn’t think we treated them any differently.

They also have different favorite grandparents. Sophie is a Mimi’s (grandma’s) girl, but Maggie is Papa’s (grandpa’s) little one. She’s most comfortable sleeping on Papa’s chest. We were very happy when Mimi and Papa were here for Sophie’s birthday, and very sad when they left. For me, it’s selfish – Mimi takes care of Sophie, and Papa takes care of Maggie…leaving Betsy & I to take care of…each other.

Of course, we still have some of the same problems – Maggie is no better at sleeping than Sophie (despite my earlier hopes), it’s just she can be calmed a little bit easier. We know (now) that holding her close will settle things down. In fact, Maggie has been in the Baby Bjorn more so far (in the first 5 weeks) than Sophie was during her lifetime. In addition, we now have swings and bouncy seats in every room in the house. We could probably host a baby convention with all these things. Of course, all the babies would be rockin and vibrating and swinging so the conversation would be a little tough.

So what’s my dream? That though Maggie is different, she is able to be as happy and energetic as her older sister.

Happy Birthday Sophie!

Today was Sophie’s birthday, and as you can see, she looks pretty regal when she’s celebrating!

This is the first time that I’m writing a birthday piece, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to write. Then, while looking at other blogs, I found a great idea to steal….I mean to inspire me.

Danny over at Dad Gone Mad wrote a nice little piece (yes, the guy has a heart) about a walk with his son the other day. It got me to thinking – what are the things I’d like to remember about Sophie as she is today? It always seems like I’m in the day to day so much I don’t get a chance to keep track of who she was…..

The way she says, “Yesssss” when she really agrees with you – it’s like you just came up with a billiant idea that had never been thought before. “Would you like some Cheerios?” “Yessssss!” Sometimes at work I think I’d like to break out that “Yessssss!” when I hear a good idea – I don’t think it would have the same impact coming from me, though.

How excited she gets when she runs. Sophie doesn’t have much hair, so when she runs the wisps wave around in the breeze. The look on her face while she’s trotting along shows that great joy.

The way she says, “Good night Daddy” over and over again (starting at a whisper, and increasing the volume until she’s shouting it) after I put her to bed. She’ll also tell me she loves me by saying, “I do, Daddy!” (It works for everyone else she cares about too…”I do, Mommy”, “I do, Maggie”, etc)

“Hi Daddy!” – nothing like it. Whether I’m getting her up in the morning, or coming home from a trip, I get the greeting that shows she hasn’t forgotten me!

When she says Maggie, she lights up – “Maggie! Maggie! Maggie!” We’ll see if she’s still that happy with her younger sister a few years from now.

Our little journeys – usually they’re as simple as a walk around the block, but it’s time that we spend together, just the two of us. I’ll point out something interesting (maybe a rock, or branch, or piece of trash), and she’ll seem so fascinated by it.

Happy Birthday Sophie….I love you and look forward to many, many more birthdays together!

Funky Food

Before I was a parent I heard about toddler food habits. Kids eating only chicken fingers for weeks at a time. The Cheerios and air diet. Hanging on the boob until the age of 12 (OK, I made that one up).

I was still surprised by what Sophie eats.

Here’s the key essentials for a successful meal with Sophie:

Seaweed Salad – She got this from Betsy, who is even more of a sushi fan than I am. I think Seaweed Salad is one of the few foods that Sophie enuciates clearly (with a little bit of an Elmer Fudd twang).

Sushi – She doesn’t really eat sushi; we give her veggie rolls, and she eats the rice and seaweed wrap (see above).

Indian – Pronounced “Cuwwy”. We take her to the cheap Indian buffet in Cambridge, where she chows down Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tiki Masala. Plus the yummy rice pudding for dessert.

Rice – this may not be so strange, but it’s the only starch she’ll eat.

Pate – Yes, that’s right. She eats pate. That was not my idea. But at least it’s fish pate, and not something like duck. And it’s about as cheap as CheezWhiz, but so much more sophisticated.

Booty – Veggie Booty. This product has kale. I can’t even pick kale out of a lineup of vegatables, let alone know if it’s nutritious. I know one thing – it tastes pretty nasty, at least in booty form.

Yogurt – OK, maybe I’m stretching this one a little bit, since they even have a brand called “YoBaby” (I keep wanting to call it YoBabyYoBabyYoBabyYo), but Betsy can’t stand the stuff. She gags when it’s around…so I’m glad Sophie & I have our own little treat.

If I’d read this article ahead of time, we might have planned better. Sophie’s kinda screwed with her odd food tastes. She’ll have a tough time in the school cafeteria with things like mock chicken legs!

Of course as I’m writing this, up come a few articles – first a blog entry by DaddyTypes, who seems to be the most prolific blogger I’ve ever seen, and then an article about children’s food choices. Wow – we’re actually ahead of the curve on this trend.

So what weird and wooly things (besides floor food) does your little one eat?

A Day in the Life of Sophie Sunshine (Part 1)

This is a day in the life of Sophie Sunshine. Since Maggie is the newest member, I wanted to do a day in her life, but it consists pretty much of the following: crying, eating, pooping, eating, crying, sleeping, pooping, eating. Repeat.

5:30AM – The birds are chirping, and Sophie is READY TO GO! “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” If there’s no response, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” Then she’ll go back to Daddy again, this time with the volume cranked up to 11.

5:32AM Dad is up with her. In our household, Dad has Sophie from waketime to 6:30 (or so). That’s the magic Daddy-Sophie time when he flies solo. By now we have our routine down, so it’s not too difficult.

5:35AM Dad makes his coffee. “Daddy’s Coffee!!! There it is!” Always good to have someone confirm that I actually made the coffee. Thanks, Soph.

5:40AM Sophie is in her seat, making her first big decisions of the day: Mighty Bites or Cheerios? Yogurt? Bar? Oban or Lagavulan? (oops, that’s Dad’s decision) No problem, we have it all. Dad is about 1/3 through his coffee…whatever it takes to start the engine in the morning.

6:00AM Sophie is done with breakfast, “Daddy, All Done! Down! Daddy, Down!” and ready to head down to the playroom. We try to steer her towards more wholesome fare, but Caillou is the Bad Boy of toddler TV. I’m willing to give the guy a break – after all, the kid has no hair. But what’s up with Mrs. Caillou? Is she pregnant? Still trying to lose the baby weight after Rosie? As you can see, I’m starting to really get into Caillou. And it’s only mildly better than the acid trip known as Boobah.

It’s time to play. One fun game Sophie’s Mimi taught her was “Coffee”, which involves her pouring pretend coffee into some cups we have. If I’m lucky, I get to play “Dinner”, which means I get pretend food as well! Hooray! The other options for play usually involve trying to drag something up the stairs: one day a baby stroller, the next a shopping cart, etc. The only requirement is that it’s oversized and has the potential to kill her if she fell down the stairs with it.

If we’re lucky, Maggie is just waking up. If not, she’s just going to sleep after three hours of Betsy being up with her. Then it’s time for Dad to get ready. If we’re lucky, and it’s Saturday, we get to go to Gymnastics!

We’re ready to go – Dad & Sophie go off to “Nastics” (as Sophie calls it). This is where she gets to climb up a climbing wall, walk across the balance beam, and jump into a pit of spongey squares. I think the pit is the scariest; it’s deep, full of foam, and I bet there are still parents trapped in the bottom like fossils waiting to be discovered. The only times I have actually been in the pit I started sinking…..until I remembered my quicksand training.

The original reason to sign her up was so that she would be busy and active, giving us a chance to wear her out while we stayed fresh and strong. It didn’t work out that way. I spend the entire hour chasing after her keeping her from jumping off a balance beam, or pulling her out of the pit, or helping her flip over the bar, etc etc. By the end, I’m exhausted and she’s rarring to go.

Nastics is done! We run off to the Ginerbread Construction Company for rockin’ good muffins. We are sure to bring back some for mommy. Usually by this time we get the request for the bah-bah. Luckily, mommy has packed a whole bunch of goodies, so I tempt her with raisins to eat on the ride home. Of course, what that really means is raisins get scattered about the car. I think I will begin to call her Johnny Raisinseed.

Muffins finished, playtime resumes. If we’re lucky, we’ll play “Sleep”. This doesn’t happen very often.

Nap Time! Sophie will go down for a nap, fortified by a bottle, and we’ll breath a sigh of relief. She currently lulls herself to sleep by singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. Whatever works…..

To be continued…..

Am I Daddy or Big Brother?

In the beginning, sleeping in caves, babies slept next to their parents, and the parents were able to ensure that they were warm and alive. Did the parents sleep? No, but they lived in caves. Expectations were pretty low.

Then came houses, and these houses had rooms. This meant that the parents could (if they chose) have a room for themselves, and a room for the baby. Oh, joy! Sleep at last! But wait! I can’t hear the baby. Oh no. Oh my. What will we do? How will we be good parents?

Evolution moves on, and soon the radio is invented. We can now send a human voice without wires! Of course, the radio has not reached its full potential until the baby monitor is invented. Now parents can hear every breath that their baby takes. If they’re lucky, they can also hear the phone conversations of the family next door, or perhaps another baby monitor down the street! (This actually happened to us – we got to hear the phone conversations of the single girl next door…and it was cheaper than those 900 numbers)

This new technology has some problems. You jump up at every single bubble and squeak. Finally, we’ve evolved back to caveman days. No sleep. OK, then let’s get the next generation – movement sensors! Perfect! Of course, if you’re like me, you forget to turn off the sensor when you get the baby up in the morning….man that alarm is LOUD.

My sister’s family bought us the ultimate – a video monitor system (with infrared! watch baby and give her a tan at the same time!). Now I’m hooked. If I hear the baby rustle, I just look at the video, and make sure she hasn’t started running around. I plan to use this until the girls are 18 or they get injunctions. Dad just wants them to be safe.

Ding-Dong, the car is dead

We finally traded in Betsy’s car. She bought that car coming out of college, and in the 13 years she had it, she put maybe 75,000 miles on it. This car was held together with duct tape and fix-a-flat, and while that was good enough for me, we thought it might be a wee bit unsafe for the kids.

The picture doesn’t really do the car justice. There’s bird crap all over it, the kids in the eighborhood rip off the duct tape (which keeps the water from leaking through the sun roof) every few days, and there are random parts hanging off of it underneath. It’s one sweet ride. In addition, since there water has leaked in so many times, it smells like my basement back at college – except there isn’t the aftersmell of stale beer.

Even so, why get rid of it? It failed inspection, and the cost to get it to pass (not including the bribe to Sully) was $1000 or so. More than it was worth. So we donated it. I figured that was safer than selling it to some poor schmuck who thought that it was worth something because it had “only” 75K on it.

What did we get instead? Behold, the double-wide! I want to hire the guys from “Pimp My Ride” to see if they can put some flames on it or something.