Monday, December 26, 2011

month 12 - Happy Birthday!

today was great, my favorite little man!

I will definitely write more soon about this first year, but I wanted to say today that I love you and you're number 1!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

11 months

Happy yo 11!

Wait...that's from craps...

Seriously, Happy 11 months, little buddy.

I like to think this crying jag took place after you read the month 10 post and felt really bad about how you never sleep and your mother and I are at wit's end...but really, you were just having a grumpy moment and I was feeling picture happy.

The sleep really has gotten better in the last few weeks, although there are plenty of nights that you get your mom out of bed 3 - 5 times.  Those nights do not make for pleasant mornings.

In other news, you had your first Thanksgiving out of the womb and it went pretty well.  Now that you are officially the youngest member of both sides of the family tree, you get plenty of attention.  Your birthday the day after Christmas is sure to be a test of that theory, as most everyone is going to be partied and holidayed out, but for Turkey day you were a big hit.

This month has been a big one for your relationship with your big brother Frodo, in some complicated ways.  As shown here, you two like to hang out and have similar interests.  Frodo has also warmed up to you as a partner for play - he brings you his toys and gets you to chase him around the house.  But we also had a scary moment poked or pulled on the Grumpy Old Dog side of Frodo and apparently hurt him enough that he snapped out at you and we got this...
This was your first real injury and your mom and I were beside ourselves for most of the day, and still when we talk about it we both get a little weepy.  You are fine, and within minutes of the "incident" you were laughing and ready to play, and you and the dog have been trying to get close for some cuddling since, but Mom and I are going to take it slow with the reintroductions.  To be fair, my big sister split my lip a few times and my big cousin dumped me out of the back of a wagon for a broken collar bone, but the site of seeing you bleeding and those moments of frantic worry about how bad it might be and how bad it might have been came as a pretty big shock for tus padres.

So back to the happy stuff - you have become much more mobile in the last few weeks and you have learned to wave - it is still adorable, every single time it happens, when you see me walk into the room and you sit up and wave at me.  I can't even imagine what it will be like when you can talk (at least for that short window that you can talk but haven't yet learned to be ironic or sarcastic....)

We need to shoot more film, but this moment catches a lot of what was special about this month:

I love you so much, little Man.  One year is coming up so fast, and you and I need to come up with a plan for how to deal with your mom realizing her little baby boy is growing up!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Month 10 UPDATE

Maybe it was Jessica's threat of Ferbering, maybe it was the public shame the prior blog post, maybe it was the universe recognizing that the Time Had Come...but our little man has strung together a mostly consecutive series of nights sleeping 5+ hours at a time!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

month 10

New for this month: less treacly sentimentality and more grumpy Dad.

Don't get me wrong, son - I still love you, maybe even more than last month, but month 10 marks the point that I am


Seriously, those 2 weeks when you mostly slept through the night are a distant, months ago memory at this point.  Nine nights out of ten, now, you tend to sleep for an hour or maybe two, and then you scream until your mom comes to cuddle and nurse you.  Nothing else works.  NOTHING.

I mean, if I come and get you out of the crib, you scream at me like a Ring Wraith.  If I play with you for an hour, turn on the TV, threaten and cajole you, I can sometimes get you calmed down and back to sleep AFTER 2 HOURS.  Your mom is better than I am, in several ways, and my patience with 3 AM histrionics and hysterics is extremely limited.

The aggregate loss of rest has affected every corner of my life, from diet and exercise to creative output and my relationships with others, and especially my relationship with yo mamma.  See, what happens is that when you go all Munch on us 3 - 4 times a night, the net effect is to have two adults barely functioning on diminished rest and who have both expended the whole of their respective patience reservoirs on your bullshit...

[For the sake of the occasional reader of this blog - I (and the wife)
desperately love my son, but I do not always love the things he does.]

This month was not a total mess: you got pretty proficient at crawling, you can pull your self up on anything that will hold still for a second, you have mastered the consumption of a staggering variety of fruits and veggies...although the first 2/3 of that list is terrifying in some respects, and the last 1/3 has represented a significant jump in our weekly food bills.

Another significant development is that we are beginning to begin thinking about starting the process to detach you from your mom's boob..."weaning" sounds weird, so we'll call it GOB (going off-boob).  Our general GOB plan has been to stage down to a final disconnect on your birthday.  The last pediatrician's visit through a wooden clog into the works...he suggested that you couldn't take straight cow's milk (a component crucial to our GOB strategy) until AFTER your birthday...  But still, the revolution is coming, and while it may not be televised, it will likely be photo-documented.

Speaking of, and to go out this month on an up note, the requisite pics of you being adorable:

Love you, son.  I promise Thanksgiving won't take your 11 month thunder, but XMas might be too big for the both of us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

rolling bands of experience

So this idea has been tumbling around in my head for a few weeks, popping up in enough various contexts to warrant a blog post trying to flesh it out.

The basic idea is that for a given phase of life, there are basic set of skills that make the experience more something (productive, fun, safe, effective, etc).  What I'm thinking is that a person may accumulate that skill set for a given "band of experience", but that band eventually passes and it is then time to prep/learn how to manage the next band.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

month 9

Son, you are now three quarters of a year old...that's 0.75 if metric catches on in the States by the time you are old enough to care.

For the stat keepers - you still have only 2 teeth, although I feel more coming under your pink and healthy baby gums.  Your average hours of sleep per night has dropped back into the ~ 3-4 hours area.  You weigh just under 20 pounds.  Oh, and there's something else...

And suddenly, everything changed!

We love you, son.  This year is flying by, and it's both exhilarating and terrifying to see how having a kid transforms the formerly quotidian into an exhausted, happy mess of a family routine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

competing interests

Have you heard of the phenomenon where grocery store shoppers are confronted with 30+ kinds of ketchup and end up not buying any of them, basically overwhelmed by the choice?

I'm dealing with something kind of like that in my pursuit of an interesting life.  First, the givens:

  • I have a job that takes 40-ish hours a week
  • we have a home that requires a healthy amount of time to keep up
  • there's a 20lb ball of need rolling around my house that will take as many hours as you care to give it
now, the "discretionary":
  • i used to run, and thought at times that it might come to be one of the defining aspects of my middle years - "that guy runs, barefoot, for 10s of miles at a time!".  Now, the prospect of carving out X miles * 10 minutes is more involved than a quick check to see if I have 10X minutes open.
  • i'm interested in installing some solar power systems at the house, with a minimum goal of running some water pumps and lighting in the back yard and with an advanced goal of tying into the grid and watching my meter go backwards
  • speaking of the garden, the wife and I have had some lofty ideas about landscaping for aesthetics as well as gardening for produce to actually eat and show our child where at least some of his food comes from
  • continuing in the vein of food production, I've long had an interest in hydroponics and other methods of intense cultivation with minimal resource input - I like the idea of a year round herb garden in the house, plus maybe some peppers, tomatoes, etc
  • a long running theme in my relationship with a certain couple of friends has been an interest in writing and sharing our writing with the twin goals of encouraging each other's production and actually getting a finished product that could be shared/marketed/sold to a wider audience
  • maintain relationships - I have long prided myself on maintaining real world (non-Facebook) relationships with a handful of friends, but the last year or so has really put the strain to that effort.  Hanging out with or communicating regularly with friends should come naturally, but it sometimes seems that we (society) have restructured the mechanisms of life to make this sort of interaction more difficult rather than less.
I have all of these goals (and maybe sundry others), and I do occasionally make progress on one or two (I ran last week!  and might run today!  and I got into a frenzy of home improvements last month that resulted in under cabinet lights, a slightly more organized garage, blah blah blah) but in general I find that my head hits the pillow at the end of the day that saw me primarily deal with that 20lb ball of need, some grocery shopping, and enough work to get a paycheck in the pipeline.

My hope is that by naming and sharing the goals I may be able to see the situation in a slightly altered perspective and see a new way forward.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

book review

I recently re-read Lamb by Christopher Moore, and I enjoyed it thoroughly the second time through.

The full title is "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal", and I would like to say that I enthusiastically recommend it to any and all readers, but I suspect that the truth is more complicated.

The story is decidedly unorthodox in it's theology (mostly; see below), and many sincere Christians would likely be offended by many different aspects of the book, while many readers who come to the book without much exposure to modern Christianity might miss out on a good deal of the "inside" humor.

Lamb's general premise is that the 4 gospels recognized by the mainstream church cover only the beginning and end of the life and ministry of Jesus, and that approach leaves out a lot.  In order to fill in the missing years, "Biff" is resurrected by an angel, sent by his old buddy Jesus in the modern era, to write a new gospel in celebration of the second millenium (the book was published a few years back).

I find the book and the narrative of the Messiah's middle years very funny, and poignant, and spiritually edifying (from my decidedly liberal spiritual vantage, at least).  The likelihood that the novel gets the details correct about what Jesus did between 3 and 30 is pretty slim, but it's a fun speculation.

My own background of 1000s of hours in Sunday school and in personal study of the Bible made the references to the actual scripture jump out, and the way those references worked in the context of the narrative were often clever; in one instance, we see a young Jesus (and Biff) laboring at a housebuilding site where they hear the master craftsmen explain to the homeowner why the foundation had to be excavated down to the bedrock and back-filled, as a "house built upon the sand will not stand".

The liberal use of profanity, the open discussions of sex and sexuality, and the non-orthodox elements of the story did not bother me, but I can see how my more religiously inclined friends might take offense.  In an interesting twist, near the end of the book Biff offers a synopsis of the gospel as he saw Jesus teaching it, and the main points line up pretty tightly with the general, modern Protestant orthodox approach.

So, to wrap this up, I found the book entirely entertaining, and I think anyone interested in the story of Jesus or the evolution of the Christian faith, either from an insider or outsider perspective, would find it a good read.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It should be apparent

Being a parent can be so hard sometimes. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

month 8

Month 8 has gone pretty well - you are eating lots of non-boob food and so far we have seen no evidence of allergies.  You did have a trip to the doctor for a fever that turned out to be one of the most trying 3 hours of my parenthood (so far)...a rotation of highly skilled phlebotomists and nurses took turns jabbing, pricking, and poking you for samples of your precious baby blood, and it turns out you don't like being jabbed, pricked, and poked.  Who knew?

But mostly late July to late August has been kind to our little family (despite the 95 degree F days ad nauseum).  Here are some of the highlights, with minimal explication:

Post bath time hair brushing is one of my favorite parts of the process.

And speaking of bath time, the combination of your ability to sit up and your realization that we're not trying to drown you has made your cleaning sessions far more pleasant.

You still do not crawl...we're trying not to freak out about the pace of your development in this area (everything else seems to be coming along well and per a fairly typical schedule)...what you do do is this superman-esque flying thing.  The more you want something that's out of your reach, the more you lift arms and legs.


Of course, your mother and I take hundreds of pictures of you every month, so maybe it's natural that you think you are super handsome.  But, of course, you ARE!

Hmmm...maybe a theme?

Sleep continues to be the biggest daily struggle.  This pic is from an afternoon nap, and you have really come along in regards to that kind of sleep.  It's the nighttime routine that needs some work, but maybe by the September issue of the Look at My Amazing Child! your mom and I will have cracked that puzzle.

Love you, Buddy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Was supposed to post something

here a couple of days ago...

Will have to get to that soon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grill roasted chicken

Our oven died, shortly after we decided to make chicken our child's first animal protein. 

We had 2 organicy whole chickens from Costco and had planned on roasting one, and carving out some unseasoned white meat for the boy.

When I realized the oven element wasn't heating, it was too late that night to get the bird done, so we punted forward a night. 

I used the grill, and by any objective standard it went beautifully.  Which means my beautiful wife objected.

At any rate, I liked it and the boy got a bite of fire roasted chicken!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

like riding a bike

This guy rides better than I can walk.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't buy

your kid a telescope - the one you can afford won't work for crap, and your kid's not that interested anyway.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We love the weekends.

Maybe everybody does. But we sure do. Can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Month 7

Someday you will realize that "special" and "important" are all relative, and so it is with milestones and recognitions...16th birthdays (15 if you are a Mexican female...), 18th birthdays, 21st if you are a US citizen, 30th, 40th, 50th...these are all watershed years for one reason or another.  And so it must be for monthly remembrances.  6 months was a big deal!  But 7?  It's just the month after 6, and 5 before the 1 year mark...right?

Except for you parents, it's not just another month.  It's ANOTHER MONTH!  You changed some this month, and made us laugh and smile and bang our heads against the wall.

Just look at that smile!  You are a happy baby, and your mom and I thank the stars daily for that.  This pic was taken in Nashville, at a hotel, where Dad had to go work for the were a champ and weathered the change in surroundings pretty well.

Back at home, we keep expecting you to crawl (and sprout some teeth, but all we get is drool there), but your version of crawling is apparently modeled on the Superman style:

When you get excited and happy, instead of putting your hands and knees to the ground to propel you forward, you lift everything up into this "flying" mode.  It's cute, but relatively unproductive.  We're not completely sure what's going on there...

In other recent developments, you apparently think it's awesome to stick out your tongue ALL THE TIME.
Maybe someday you will be featured in a poster like Einstein, but we kind of doubt it.
Not that you aren't cute, but your mother and I hope that as an adult you will know when and where to use your tongue...

Anyway, this month was super cute and a lot of fun and I don't really know what else to say about it, because in the part of my world that is not ALL ABOUT YOU things kind of sucked and made me depressed.

But there was this to brighten at least one evening:

So, month 7 is behind us and number 8 is coming up fast...and you do look nice from behind too.

I love you, Son, and I'm glad we're doing this together.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NTTATS update

I recently realized that even though No Two Things Are The Same is practically perfect in every way, there is another statement that is equally powerful and is equally necessary:

All Things Are Similar.

Taken together, these two ideas will change the way the world thinks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

selling out - minimalist shoe edition

I've been encouraged by some parties to make my blog moderately more..."commercial".  Let's try that out.

I saw a review of these sandals today and I would not mind trying them out.

I think they look pretty cool, and are described as being "as the thinnest, most minimalistic sport sandal" Teva has ever made.  I could run in them, I'm pretty sure.  Although, I imagine I would pick up some tiny rocks and/or sand occasionally.  I might also drill holes in the sole and cut off some straps after trying the shoes out as-is.  Find them here.

In the same vein, a good friend of mine has had the opportunity to try out these Merrell "Barefoot Trail Gloves" and had some reasonably positive things to say about them:
While they look more "traditional", the shoe is apparently super light and fairly minimal in the sole.  I'm probably not going to try them out at present, but I'm glad that Merrell and other companies are continuing to innovate in the "minimalist" shoe space.  Check them out here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New BFR insights

I had a eureka moment this weekend in regards to barefoot running and the disconnect I experience (as an advocate) between me and some of my running friends.

The insight came when I started thinking about my goals for running speed, my history of injury, and how different goals might lead to different experience outcomes.  I have so far in my running career not cared much about how fast I run; I have to date cared more about putting up consistent distance numbers, and consistency in running at all.  I also [knock on wood] have yet to experience any real running-related injuries.

Several of my running friends who choose to run in traditional running shoes care a great deal about running ever quicker times; I realized this weekend that the higher incidence of injury among this same set of friends could have to do with their shoes or it could have to do with the extra stress on their bodies that is coincident with the press for speed.

I think now that this component of the overall experience of running is important and I have neglected it in past consideration...when people asked me in the past why I ran barefoot, I have talked at length about evolutionary development and about pockets of aboriginal runners world-wide who run great distances barefoot (or in minimalist foot coverings) and about stories (as covered in Born to Run) of such runners who persistence hunt (where you run after a deer or other game until it drops dead from exhaustion) - what I'm realizing now is that while many of those example runners do run fast, speed seems to be a secondary goal or motivator in their version of running.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

required relationship reading

This extended look at the current state of monogamy in committed relationships has some very interesting talking points; I suspect the content would be especially valuable for folks raised in a conservative / religious household.

In my own experience I feel that my church failed me passively, in so many ways, in terms of preparation for healthy adult relationships, and actively in terms of a church-approved sexual relationship.

Further, I think you can read the article and replace "sex" with any number of other subjects and find it relevant...part of my core NTTATS philosophizing is concerned with the fundamental disconnect between two people's conceptualization of any idea, and the challenge to any long term relationship is finding a way to manage that disconnect.  Some people (on some issues) prefer to pretend that there is no disconnect; in other cases it seems that any relevant conversation requires a reiteration of the manifold ways the two parties disagree.

I'm a believer in committed, long term relationships (romantic, friendly, family, etc) and so I constantly strive to keep the NTTATS cynicism in check, and I find discussions like those in today's article provide a helpful framework for that anti-cynical work.

Charity is complicated

Dooce just returned from an awareness gathering and raising trip to Bangladesh and is blogging about her experience in installments...the most recent post is here, and speaks to some of the complications I personally see in "doing charity".

Heather is finely attuned to the realities of blogging on a popular site, and I think it's plain in the rather preemptively defensive tone of some of her comments, and this need to be defensive is one I find especially tragic and problematic.

Just by bringing the name "Bangladesh" and a general awareness that women in less developed areas struggle mightily with childbirth to a larger audience, Dooce has done a valuable thing.

I have no doubt that many will criticize her for being wealthy, healthy, and famous while other people are not, but I think she rightly notes that there is little she can actually do to help with the reality on the ground there.  I'm sure Heather will make personal financial sacrifices based on what she saw, but she could not "save" Bangladesh with the sum total of her financial net worth.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

back on my feet

The ~ 90+ degree weather took a day off yesterday, and it wasn't monsoon raining, so I went for a short run.

~ 1.5 miles in full on bare feet, and it felt pretty good.  I was running a loop around the 0.75 mile block closest to my house, and after two such loops I turned back into my drive...I think I might have kept on going if I had someone to chat with on the road - anyone out there interested?

Monday, June 27, 2011

covered so well

Month 6!

What can I say?  You've grown a bunch in the last 6 months, and your mom's requirement that I measure that growth in alcoholic beverage packaging units required that I find an appropriate unit...that big bottle of Red Stripe was about the same size as your head...Hurray!

But seriously, this has been a momentous month, and given the nature of things and calendars and our human interest in memorializing and recognizing arbitrary milestones, the half-year mark is a big deal!  It certainly feels like a big deal, and I think your mom would agree that the last 6 months have flown by, except for a few choice [screaming baby] moments that slowed down to a seemingly interminable experience.  But more good than bad, as they say, so...Hurray!*

This was definitely the month you took real notice of your hairy older brother (pictured above with the one toy in the house not covered in your baby slobber)...he's been pretty cool with the new puppy we brought into the house in December, but occasionally the melancholic realization your mom will never look at him the same flattens him out.  But when he's happy and playful you cannot get enough of watching him bound around the house.  I can't wait until you can crawl over and give him a hug.  He, on the other hand, would probably prefer that never happen (grumpy old troll!)

One of your many aunts got married in early June, and you rocked the wedding with a casual nonchalance (i.e. sleeping) that definitely made you the coolest person in the crowd.  By the way, you love the face-out position in the Baby Bjorn - whether we are at the mall, outside for a walk, or perusing the aisles at Costco, you are definitely a fan.  Except for the wedding snooze, you are generally wide eyed and curious when hanging in the Bjorn.

You paid a visit to your granddad's boat shop and we had the opportunity to record the visit with this shot of you in a bass boat...I don't want to prejudice your development, but let me whisper in your ear now: ski boats are cooler than bass boats.

You love books, which gives me such hope for the future.

You also like to imitate the Enlightened, sharing your wisdom with us who wander in the dark...this gives me reservations about the future.  I'm not sure there's room in this house for any more pedantry.

June also brought us our first real travel as a young family - we three flew to Chicago for a mix of business and pleasure; in the shot above you are rocking the hoodie look, with your mom doing Bjorn duty.  We saw the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Magnificent Mile, some old fave restaurants, and...

SWINGS!  With the loving encouragement of your new friend Harper Lou, you were brave enough to try out something brand went well!  Of course, your mom would not let go of your hands, but still!

You met some more little people friends that we left behind when we moved south to birth you in the warmer climates of you are saying " 'sup " to your new buddy McKee.  He's about six months ahead of you and is already walking and producing moments of terror that your mother and I have not fully prepared for in our home...this visit was inspiring and served as a fair warning of What Shall Come to Pass in the next 6 months.

What does this open bridge have to do with your month-iversary?  Well, I could make up some quasi-philosophical blather to fit the occasion, but the truth is that we got stuck on the north side of the river while the bridgemaster worked out some kinks in the system, and the waiting provided some awesome visuals.  Chicago is a stitched together with these bascule bad boys, and it was fun to be reminded of their importance.

This is what I have come to think of as the "crawling launch position" - in previous months tummy time was mostly about getting you to strengthen your neck and core muscles to get you to this point...what's not obvious in still photography is that you are generally kicking and pushing with your feet now when you are in the tummy time position, but you have yet to figure out that lifting your belly a bit while kicking and pushing could propel you across the floor and into the "Mommy and Daddy will really get no rest" danger zone.

But while you are not yet crawling, you did cross an important developmental milestone this month:

"I think he likes it!"

More swinging at a park much closer to home.

Trying to give Dad a hand with those confusing cell phone camera was blinking 12:00:00 and you were all "just let me see it for a minute"

The rare close encounter of my two favorite little buddies.

And a few days after the first cereal, we tried a little mushed up were not a fan.  You may have inherited my mother's aversion to foods which are green in color.

All in all it's been a great month, and a great cap on the first 6 of your young life.  It really is moving so fast, sometimes your mom and I just look at each other this complicated look that (for me, at least) tries to communicate this mash-up of feelings: anxiety that it's all going to change, excitement about all the cool things you are learning, gratitude that the nightmare parts of the early months are gone, fear of what nightmare parts the coming months are going to bring...

Life does not prepare a person to be a parent...being a parent to one probably doesn't prepare for the next...the reality of being a parent is that it's an ongoing experiment with daily failures (and unanticipated successes) that make Edison's light bulb seem simple, and you don't really know how it's going until you can look back on the earlier phases with a little objectivity...  With that in mind, I'm going to call the first 6 months of this particular experiment a fantastic success: we are all still here, we all still love each other, and I got more than 5 hours of sleep last night.

So the next big challenge is finding a bottle of booze large enough to form a reasonable comparison for your next weigh in!  I'm thinking magnum wine bottle?

*who knows what memory of contemporary marketing campaigns will remain when you are of age to read my formative years, Red Stripe ran a series of ads featuring happy-go-lucky Jamaicans holding bottles of the beer and saying "Hurray Beer!" or similar