Friday, December 16, 2011

Blogrolling XI

This post has been up since yesterday morning, but Louis C.K. still hasn't called.Link

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NJ Takes A Meeting

NJ was looking forward to meeting Santa Claus at a Christmas party last night -- we talked about it on the drive over to our friends' house. Once we got there, though, Bashful and Shy took over and the kid wouldn't leave her mother.

We went on with our party business, and at one point NJ and I were in our hosts' son's room with some other kids, playing with his train set, when I said "Hey NJ, are you ready to tell Santa what you want for Christmas now?" "Yeah," she replied, and she walked out of the bedroom and around the corner to Santa's area. When I caught up she was standing in front of him, then she climbed up. She didn't say anything to him (and she didn't have any requests for him anyway), but she spent a few minutes with him and managed to smile some, too (not pictured).

This guy ain't fitting down our chimney, Daddy ...

Blogrolling X

Of course, as soon as I complain about tantrums, NJ suddenly turns all lovey-dovey and excruciatingly cute. She hasn't tantrumed since this was written.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The World's Most Underrated Toddler Milestone

I taught NJ how to make the "thumbs-up" sign last night. It took her few moments, but once she was able to corral her fingers properly, success! She actually used her opposite hand to mash her fingers down to nail it the first time. Once she got that down it was easy to make another and give the double thumbs-up. That's how she sent me off to work this morning, with the double thumbs-up.

And don't worry, NJ only does the good thumbs-up:

Not the bad thumbs-up:


Friday, December 2, 2011

Blogrolling IX

Sorry there's been nothing here lately but links to the Today Show mom's blog (here's the latest). Been busy, but hey -- that's no excuse!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blogrolling VII

Some people say that potty humor only appeals to people who are lazy, aren't creative, and have no sense of humor. I think those people are wrong.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blogrolling VI

Click on this word, "here," and you will be taken to another website to read something I wrote about me and the kid.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Free Candy! Free Candy!

NJ's first trick-or-treat excursion took place yesterday on a few blocks up from our home, where businesses throw open their doors to little goblins and superheroes for a few hours in the afternoon. Our Butterfly Witch trudged up the steep hill that leads to Greenwood Avenue for the first time.

Just hang on to the hat, Mommy. I'll let you know when I need it.
The walk uphill wore her out a little bit, and for the first few stops she was a little cranky. She also wasn't completely up to speed on how the whole trick-or-treat thing works to start -- her skills improved ten-fold as the event wore on.

So I can just reach in here and take anything, is that what you're telling me? I can just take it and move on to the next free candy distributor? Really, now?
In particular, once NJ realized that people were just giving sweets away she started approaching doorways confidently and not reluctantly. And when it sank in that she could keep all of her candy in her orange bag, she stopped insisting on carrying each piece in her hand (this happened, of course, when the candy-holding capacity of her hands reached critical mass and she couldn't hold another piece). And perhaps the biggest lesson of all -- you don't have to bite and chew lollipops to enjoy them.

This sucker might last all day!
NJ is a very discerning trick-or-treater, often spending a minute or so deciding just which piece of candy to pluck out of a big bowl. She was so into it that she had to be steered clear of one bag of treats because it belonged to another trick-or-treater.

The last stop on the hour-long tour was at an ice cream shop that opened a couple of weeks ago (they didn't exactly hit their "Opening for summer!" goal), where the kid and The Wife sampled some pumpkin-chocolate chip ice cream. The reviews were positive, especially when the chocolate was discovered.

Oh yeah!
The real test comes tomorrow night, when Butterfly Witch hits the neighborhood for the first time. I'm hoping she gets lots of Reese's and Snickers. Because at Halloween, dads are like mob bosses -- they get a hefty take.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogrolling V

It's here. I think NJ will be a heck of a caregiver in my and The Wife's old age.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kids Say The Darndest @*#$%*&! Things

Today I awoke to hear NJ talking to her mom downstairs:

"You can kiss me on the butt!"

Turns out she'd injured her fanny and The Wife had offered to give her a kiss -- but on the head. NJ didn't understand why, in this case, the healing smooch wouldn't be applied to the point of injury, as per usual.

Looking forward to NJ saying the same thing, but with different intent and vocal inflections, when she's a teenager.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blogrolling IV

NJ will be the most famous three-years-and-under witch in all the land!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glenda The Good Witch Was A Child Once, Too, Right?

NJ put her Halloween costume on this past weekend for a reunion with four other toddlers who were about to be born when their parents all met at a Lamaze training weekend in late June 2009. (Worst. Sentence. Ever. I know. I'm listening to the new Tom Waits and feeling a little semi-discombobulated.) (Semi-discombobulated in a good way.) Here's what she looks like this season dressed as, in her words, a "butterfly witch":

I told Mommy and Daddy I'd turn them into pumpkins if I didn't get a cookie. I TOLD THEM!
The butterfly witch partied with a monster, an octopus, a bumblebee and a butterfly. Everyone had a grand time, as far as I know, and our hostess deserves a hearty round of applause. It's been really nice to watch our kids grow up simultaneously for the past two years -- why, it seems like just yesterday blah blah blah. All the parents are good people and it's fun to compare how our kids are growing up, get advice (POTTY TRAINING was a big topic), brag on your angel and listen to them brag on theirs.

NJ scarfed a couple of muffins, threw a mini-tantrum when the notion of sharing a toy didn't appeal to her, did a lot of charming stuff, and changed out of her dress and into clothes more appropriate for outdoor play:

Don't you just hate it when an octopus blocks your way on the slide?
This year will be NJ's first experience with trick-or-treating on the block, and I'm looking forward to it more than she is (obviously, because she doesn't know now to read a calendar yet, but still). For years I've been opening my door, dishing out candy, and looking over the kids' heads to the sidewalk. Where the parents stand, beaming and watching their little one get gifted with handfuls of sugar.

Speaking of candy -- don't skip any two-story houses (last item on list).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And The Student Becomes The Teacher

For months now I've been relentlessly quizzing NJ on virtually everything:

"What color is that?" (Typical answer: "Geen." Or, "Red." But no more "o-shon" for orange, which is good but kind of makes me and The Wife wistful for simpler times.)

"What is this?" (Typical answer: "A doggie." Sometimes, "A yellow doggie.")

"Who's that?" (Typical answer: "Mommy!" Also: "NJ!" when presented with a photo of herself. I've used that one so much that yesterday she said "NJ!" before I even turned my phone around to show her the pic.)

"What does this do?" (Typical answer, if we're talking about her Curious George jack-in-the-box: "Monkey comes out of the box.")

With all the questions, I should have been wearing this for the past several months.

So this morning, when we were both sitting on the couch bracing ourselves for the day ahead, the little dickens snatched the pebble from my hand.

"Who is Yo Gabba Gabba?" NJ asked me, beaming and pointing to the TV show, currently her favorite, that she was watching.

The host was on the screen, so I answered "DJ Lance?"

"Right!" she said triumphantly before turning back to the TV. And I swear I saw a little flash of pride in her eyes. She probably thinks I'm developing quite nicely (but could put out a little more effort).

BOOM! Consider the tables turned, Dad Solo!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Princess Sunshine

We started out with the best of intentions today, getting in gear early enough to hit a farm for some animal-related fun, then have a nice lunch out, then get home in time for NJ's nap. At which point The Wife and I were supposed to plot out a fantastically fun thing to do in the late afternoon. It was gonna be great!

Things started to look iffy when we left Seattle, which was gray but dry, and crossed to the east side of Lake Washington, where it was much grayer. And wet. And when we got to Issaquah, which we had to drive through to get to the farm, we ran headlong into Salmon Days, which shuts down a pretty big chunk of the town. Long story short, we ended up driving around for almost 90 minutes. For NJ, of course, that's 90 minutes of sitting in her car seat behind us. My heart went out to her.

My heart went out to her so much, in fact, that after we had lunch, I made sure she got a mini-cupcake for dessert. She loved this, and I think it bought The Wife and I a fair amount of goodwill.

At home, the end of NJ's nap coincided rather unfortunately with the start of a football contest waged by the Good Guys, so I was out of contact for a while. (Hey, they only play 12 or 13 games a year. Give me a break.) The Wife and NJ ran to the supermarket, and when they got home I one-eye-on-NJ-one-eye-on-the-Horns'ed it for a while. As dinner approached, the cupcake goodwill must have run out. She got a little tetchy, and once dinner was served she chowed down something fierce. Then bath, stories, milk, and bedtime. All went smoothly.

Point being, The Wife and I let NJ down today in the things-to-do department, and she ended up bored out of her mind. Still, though, she was a heck of a trooper, maintaining her Good Girl status most all day long. Lots of smiles and laughter and overall good-naturedness. So good-natured that, at the supermarket, she did things like this:

When life gives you pumpkins, make pumpkinade.
Hopefully we'll come through tomorrow with an action-packed day of adventure for her. Or, at the very least, a couple of min-cupcakes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011


When I suggested to The Wife that she take NJ out to the backyard and pick up the pears that had started to fall from the tree, she assumed it was a cynical ploy on my part to get them to do that chore instead of me. Sure, she was right about that, mostly. But I also thought it'd be fun for the kid.

And it was! She scooped up a bunch of "pay-ears" and found a couple of nice, clean, healthy pears she wanted to eat. I joined them (after the hard work was done, natch) and lifted NJ up so she could pluck a couple of fruits from the branches. NJ dug that a great deal.

Once inside, hands and pears all washed, she enjoyed the fruits (literally! Ha!) of her labor.

All the sweeter because I picked it myself, Daddy. All the sweeter.
Maybe the kid needs a butter churn or a pasta maker for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

... And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

As many of you know, I've been somewhat preoccupied the past few weeks -- wrecking my family's vacation and sweating buckets and coughing up blood and so forth. Things are close to back to normal now, and hopefully I'll be blogging frequently very soon. The kid has taken one of those exponential personality leaps lately and there's much to tell.

Meantime, to tide you over, here's an appetizer: An adorable kid eating a cupcake.

She ... wore ... bluuuuuuuuue iii-cing ...
There are more of these, right?
Lots more, I hope. Bring them to me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Hard Out Here For A Toddler

NJ's been taking a pounding lately.

Yesterday she came home from day care with an accident report describing a trip-and-fall into a cabinet. She also brought home this forehead shiner:

Photo intentionally blurred to project a disconcerting sense of movement, in an effort to fully capture the essence of an NJ bath.
She and I played downstairs, and as she stewed wooden carrots in a wooden pot I groaned and said, "Daddy's got to lay down on the flat floor for a minute. My back hurts." NJ's face showed surprise, then she got serious as she pushed her hair out of the way and showed me her bruise. "I hurt my head! It hurt!" she exclaimed. I think she was a little excited to have something like that in common with me.

Then, as I was testing our new camera today, I snapped this shot and saw those shins. Let's count the bruises, shall we?

Hey, these graphics are a little crude, so tell you what: No charge for the graphics. You get them free, absolutely no cost to you at all.
She's a durable little thing, that's for sure.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

And The Third Year Begins

Two days ago the kid turned 2. It was a Monday, and the weekend we spent on Orcas Island, so we weren't able to throw her a birthday party. "But you know when her birthday day is, why did you plan an out-of-town trip just before it?" you ask. No, you don't really ask that, do you -- you know why we did that. Precisely so we wouldn't be able to throw her a 2-year-old birthday party. I'm sorry, Future NJ, but it's true. We just thought this would be the last time we'd be able to get away with no party, so we went for it. I'm sure by the time you, Future NJ, are reading this, you and swarms of your closest friends will have already had several fabulous birthday parties at the circus, the zoo, the Museum of Science, F.F. Woodycook's, the far side of the moon, and many other fun locales. And you had a pretty good birthday anyway, trust me.

NJ raked in the goodies, including this miniature kitchen, a guitar, a pile of books, some gear for her favorite doll (Babydoll) and a fun game that involves an elephant blowing butterflies out of its trunk. She also made a triumphant return to one of her favorite places in the city, the aquarium. Then it was fish for lunch (oh, the irony) and then home to the daily grind: She spent a lot of time in her new kitchen, aping things she's seen us do (OK, mostly The Wife) in ours.

You expect me to get dinner on the table and take care of this baby at the same time? I don't think so!
On the island, counting boats was her main focus, with some rock-throwing and sand-gathering thrown in, as well.

D'oh! Left the shovel in the car again.
The Wife and fondly recalled how hectic our lives were 730 days ago, and -- like most parents, I suppose -- did so with big smiles on our faces. Our first night on the island, she and I were sitting on the deck, just about to turn in, when a fireworks show started across the sound. We watched it intently -- it's literally been years since I had a good view of fireworks, which seems wrong somehow -- and I thought about getting NJ up to see it. We didn't though, because she'd been in bed asleep for a couple of hours by then (might not have mattered, actually -- she woke up around 2.30 a.m. and we had a rough journey to dawn). Still, I thought about her as I watched the show. After all, she showed up out of the blue, too.

Monday, August 8, 2011

NJ's Kulinary Korner, Part 3: A Real, Actual Kulinary Korner

Currently under construction in the basement, this kitchen set -- a gift from her Connecticut grandparents -- will be completed this evening:

Funny thing is, the freezer already needs defrosting.
See that post in the middle, behind the sink and faucet? Dad Solo picked the counter up wrong yesterday and it broke -- it's setting with wood glue now and should be good to go later on today. But if the thing breaks again while NJ plays with it, let's not tell her about that, OK? I don't want to be the guy who broke her favorite toy (if it turns out to be her favorite) before she even got to use it once.

The Wife sent me on an errand yesterday afternoon, and when I got back she'd unpacked everything and started to assemble. And get this -- she wanted me to drop everything I was doing (Web-surfing, TV, etc.) and help!

Once it's finished, it will be covered by a bed sheet until next Monday, when NJ celebrates turning 2 years old. She'll no doubt throw the little pots and pans (not pictured) around and ask whether her play food is organic and local.

Now we'll need to build her a little woodworking shop, a little basketball court, a little scientist's lab and a little executive's office to make sure all our bases are covered.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

NJ's Kulinary Korner, Part 2

Today, NJ learned that there is a thing in the world that is a "chocolate milkshake." She finds them to be highly pleasurable.

The beginning of a beautiful friendship.
She's even confident that she can indulge in the occasional "chocolate milkshake" and not drink herself out of swimsuit season.

The 'before' photo.

Monday, August 1, 2011

NJ's Kulinary Korner

It was a big week for NJ's taste buds -- the kid busted two new taste sensation moves on her palate, and refined a third that can be tricky for an almost-two-year-old to pull off.

First, the refinement -- her first experience with corn-on-the-cob came last month, and last night she proved that she's got it down:

Is it true, Daddy, that you can fashion this thing into a pipe once I'm done eating?
Now, the new stuff.

I've been wanting to take the kid out for sushi for a while now. Last week I spoke to a friend whose daughter is almost 4, and when that kid was 2 she was eating not only sushi but oysters on the half-shell -- something I didn't even muster up the courage to try until I was an adult. So this past weekend we lunched at a very good nearby sushi joint.

I would quote from the Tubes' song 'Sushi Girl' here, but I'm trying to rein my habit of making references so obscure that only I get them. As fun as that is -- and trust me, it's fun. Sometimes I really crack myself up.
NJ mostly stuck to tempura, rice and veggies, as we're well aware of concerns about potential shellfish allergies and mercury in uncooked or steamed fish (The Wife went semi-mad when she couldn't eat sushi during the pregnancy). But when I gave her a bit of my fatty tuna she scarfed it down and asked for more. And more. I had to get another order. It won't be a regular thing, by any means, but she's gotten a taste for it and found it to be good.

But the real action came Saturday when we swung by a the soon-to-be-open ice cream place a couple of blocks away. It doesn't open for a couple weeks, but on the weekends they've hauled out a cart and sold sample-sized cups (it's very good, too!). NJ got her first taste of ice cream, and if she could articulate a little better she'd tell you that her life has been irrevocably and forever changed.

"Really? This tastes like this? Wow! I could really get used to 'chocolate ice cream.'"
When you ask NJ to 'make your sad face' while she's eating chocolate ice cream, this is as close as she can get.
I forgive you guys for not giving me ice cream before. Just make sure it's always in the house from here on out and we're good.
The best part of the ice cream introduction? She had some for dessert two nights in a row, and both times I watched as she ate a bite, and another, and another, etc. until she just put her spoon down and asked to get up from the table. In other words, she ate until she'd had enough, then stopped. One day I'll have to ask her how she does that.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Curious Case Of Jimi Hendrix's Flying Honeybee Eyeball

NJ's been pretty moody lately -- The Wife put a comment on Facebook the other day lamenting the Terrible Twos and got a whole bunch of sympathetic responses (and warnings that the Threes could likely be even more Terrible ... so there's that) -- so we're doing what we can to tamp that stuff down without going whole-hog on the spoiling and caving in to every demand and whim. Sometimes it works; she seems to (finally) get the idea behind "just one more," for example.

But now it's really hit home for me how my actions can influence the course of events.

A few days ago I bought NJ the awesomest long-sleeved t-shirt ever, thanks to a discount at one of my favorite haberdashers. What 23-month-old wouldn't want to give major props to the man who taught the world how to play guitar? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you NJ and Mr. Chuck Berry:

"Daddy, I'm not going onstage until I have every dollar of my money, in cash, in a briefcase or even a dang paper bag. Otherwise, you gotta go out there and tell those kids there ain't gonna be no show tonight."
And, since I was already on the website, I figured I'd get a nice little something for myself, too. I had a discount, after all, but more importantly: I deserved it. So I did.

A couple of days ago NJ was on a real tear -- happy one minute, ticked off the next, then wailing, then laughing and crying simultaneously, the whole bit. Finally it was bath time and as usual I scooped her up to get her undressed and ready for the March of the Towel-Carrying Naked Baby down the hall to the tub. She'd been clinging to Mommy a bit, and as I put her on the changing table her cries for The Wife got louder and more insistent. Then she ratcheted things up to desperate. I laid her down and noticed she was looking at my belly with a heady mixture of fear, uncertainty and dread. I tried to soothe her, but the stink-eye persisted. I know, NJ, I know -- I gotta drop a few pounds, I get it! I thought. Then, with a quiver in her voice, she spoke as she gestured at my stomach:


Bees are NJ's latest (and first, and only, as far as I know) scary fixation. The Wife started calling them "honeybees" in hopes of sweetening (ha!) bees' image with the kid. The PR effort has failed, at least up to now. Occasionally NJ will hesitate while playing outside because she saw a bee, or thought she saw a bee, or just associated flowers with bees and assumed bees were lurking.

But there were no bees in her room. What there was, though, was the new Wolfgang's Vault t-shirt I was wearing. It features this:

And the wind ... cries ... NJ
Yep, a tribute to the man who retaught the world how to play guitar (or tried to -- no one could keep up, really) frightened the dickens out of my kid. And it makes perfect sense that she'd associate this dodgy flying eyeball with another round, winged thing that can be scary.

Once I put two and two together -- and after I had a good chuckle while the kid lay uneasily on the changing table -- I pulled the shirt off, turned it inside-out and put it back on. And NJ's mood turned 180 degrees in a second: smiling, giggly, ready to continue our pre-bath rituals.

If it was me, I'd have been even more concerned that the flying eyeball was now inside my daddy's shirt, because just think of the chaos it could wreak there. But it wasn't me, it was her. And now I have to be sure to wear that shirt only when she's not around, or under a sweatshirt or something. Until she's old enough to appreciate Hendrix, of course. Perhaps her uncle will teach her to play "Purple Haze" one day and we can all head over to Capitol Hill, pay our respects and tell spooky stories about the Flying Honeybee Eyeball.

Maybe his eyes are closed because they flew away.
Now I'm looking over to the corner of my office, where a rolled-up poster is leaning against the printer table. Haven't gotten around to framing it or hanging up or anything, and now it's pretty clear that I won't be doing those things anytime soon. I guess it'll be safe to put it on the wall in, what -- fifteen years or so?

"It never got weird enough for me." -- Hunter S. Thompson

"It's too weird for me, Daddy." -- NJ

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Kid, With The Talking And The Speaking

Some new favorite phrases around the house:

"I don't like that."


"My _____!"

"NJ's ____!" (Although "NJ's Daddy" has a nice ring to it.)

"No, Daddy."

"I want to watch Wiggles/Yo Gabba Gabba now."

Oh, my. It's going to be a looooong ... what, 16 years?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shameless Blog Padding, Warholian Edition

Very few records make it through the production process with a complete lineup of stellar tracks. The Boss has done it, a couple of times; the Stones and the Clash have done it (and double-albums, no less -- very impressive!); The Band did it. Usually, though, there's a song or two of filler: U2, for example, has never issued an album that didn't have at least one ignorable track, including these two masterpieces. And even what many consider arguably the greatest rock record ever gets a little bogged down by "She's Leaving Home," a song that, while I appreciate it more than I used to now that I'm an old man, usually gets skipped when the iPod dials it up.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that this post is my "She's Leaving Home." But if you're a Dad Solo completist -- and OF COURSE YOU ARE! -- please forge ahead.

Andy Warhol. Never had much use for him, myself. He's one of The Wife's "Brush with Greatness" experiences (Manhattan street corner, a young assistant, a free copy of "Interview" magazine), and he gave the great Velvet Underground a platform -- these are two good things you can say about the man. On the other hand, he also made some truly unwatchable films (not even good, campy "bad" films that are fun to watch and riff on -- just terrible, excruciatingly awful films that can make you queasy) and that idiotic "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" ethos that's made Kim Kardashian and her ilk household names. And ... that hair. Oh, that hair.

Something I've come around on lately, though -- much like my aging heart now has a soft spot for Paul McCartney (of "She's Leaving Home" fame!) -- is Warhol's silkscreen works. I've grown to appreciate the DIY ethos, and the bright colors. And when you get tired of looking at portraits of Andy's celebrity pals, there's always a soup can, Coke bottle or automobile crash for a change of pace. Maybe Andy would have won me over sooner if he'd had a compelling subject. Like oh, say, this:

Take a hike, Edie.
Yes, thanks to the Warhol Museum, there's now an iPhone app that lets you "silkscreen" photos. And thanks to me, that app now resides on my cellphone. You can expect to see a lot more images of NJ rendered in vibrant, soul-enriching, life-affirming day-glo. You're welcome!

"In the future, everyone will be famous for as long as their doofus dads insist on chronicling their every move on the Internet."
As you can see, I need to work on my technique a bit -- these are rather crude silkscreens, at least compared to something as elaborate as this. But don't worry, dear reader -- I'll work on it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This Is Not How I Remember It From Before

The Wife's trip to Portland this past week was the first time I've had to take of NJ by myself for an extended period in quite some time. And in that time, her personality and abilities have grown exponentially. It was a completely new experience.

Here's a rough timeline of events. Times that are bolded are exact; italicized means an estimate.


4.45 p.m. -- I pick NJ up at day care. She doesn't seem to care that I'm not The Wife, who'd dropped her off that morning on her way to Portland. NJ doesn't rush to the door to greet me, though, as she sometimes does -- she's laying on a mat with a boy; she's playing with his feet, which are draped across her tummy. One of the teachers tells me that this boy has no source of income, no gainful employment, so I call NJ away from him and we leave. At the car, NJ says "Mommy at home?" I tell her no, and she wails. It doesn't last long, and soon we're driving home laughing and chatting and occasionally high-fiving.

What, me cry?
5.20 p.m. -- We pull up to the house. "Mommy inside?" NJ asks. I tell her no, and she wails. I hope the neighbors don't think I slapped her or something.

Inside, Mommy's absence is forgotten and we have a lovely time. After a hearty round of "Go to Bed" -- her current fave game, in which she puts two of her dolls to sleep in her crib and then joins them for a succession of 10-second naps -- NJ devours much of the hamburger patty with Provolone I make her, along with some pickle slices and quinoa. And a cookie, of course! NJ's bath is uneventful, other than me failing to keep her from repeatedly drinking bath water.

8 p.m. -- Hilarity ensues when I ask NJ if she's ready to "go to bed" and she cheerily replies "Yes!" She was thinking of "Go to Bed" and her smile fades to sour disappointment when I pulls the shades in her room instead of turning on the music. It was like one of those "Three's Company" episodes (all of them?) when Mr. Roper overhears Jack and Janet talking and thinks they're talking about sex when they actually were talking about getting their car serviced. NJ and I compromise -- I let her play a little "Go to Bed" and actually get out of the crib again for a little while, and she ... huh! I seem to have forgotten her side of the compromise. Anyway, at about 8.20 p.m. I try again and NJ's happy to settle down to sleep. I celebrate with a glass of wine and a couple of "Cheers" reruns.


2.34 a.m. -- This is why I'm doing exact and estimated times, because 2.34 a.m. is burned in my mind as if someone wrote 2.34 a.m. across it with an acid-tipped pen. This is when NJ's cries on the baby monitor woke me up. It was 2.34 a.m.

2.50 a.m. -- She's still at it, so I head downstairs. A diaper is changed, a rocking chair is utilized, but every time I move to put NJ back to bed, she squawks. So ...

3.30 a.m. -- I put a row of pillows where The Wife usually sleeps in our bed, plant NJ in next to it, then lay down myself on the remaining mattress real estate. She's not going back to sleep yet, but she's calm and cool and collected. I can't see the clock because of the pillows, but after a lengthy stretch, the kid's out.

5 a.m. -- Dad's still awake! I crane my head and check the clock when a sleeping NJ kicks a tiny foot into my ribcage.

6.30 a.m. -- The alarm goes off. I dozed enough that I can't claim I got no rest at all. NJ's a little grouchy, but generally OK. Ninety later I'm driving back home after taking her to day care.

I'll let you know when I'm ready to leave for day care, Daddy.
4.45 p.m. -- On the way to pick NJ up, I admire a cool, vintage motorcycle parked around the corner, even though I'm not a "motorcycle guy." (What I am, on this day, is a zombie after being up most of the night.) At day care, NJ's teacher tells me she didn't nap well because of coughing. The drive home is highlighted by a trip through the car wash, which amazes a wide-eyed NJ.

5.45 p.m. -- NJ asks if Mommy's home and, when informed that Mommy was still away, crying commences. Once we're inside and NJ sees I'm not lying, crying becomes wailing, and "wailing" becomes the Theme of the Evening. Literally, the worst I've ever seen her. NJ wails through play time, dinner, bath (it was shampoo night, never a picnic under the cheeriest of circumstances), post-bath play time, and bedtime. A list of things that upset NJ greatly during this period includes (but isn't limited to):
  • Daddy asking for one of her many Cheddar Bunnies (not taking one, mind you, but asking);
  • Her sippy cup;
  • Getting ready for her bath;
  • Being placed in the bath;
  • Being asked repeatedly to sit down in the bath;
  • Getting her hair wet;
  • Getting her hair shampooed;
  • Getting her hair rinsed;
  • Being asked to get out of the tub;
  • Being presented with the wrong book during post-bath Reading Time;
  • Learning that it absolutely, positively is time to go to bed.
8 p.m. -- I walk out of her room, and within 20 seconds NJ has stopped wailing. She doesn't peep again for the rest of the evening. I eat some well-deserved ice cream.


1.30 a.m. -- The roar of what sounds like a vintage motorcycle engine wakes me. It starts up and immediately dies. Whoever's trying to start this engine spends the next 20 minutes revving, or trying to rev, it. There is time for tinkering, then more attempts, and finally the thing starts. Then there's a good five minutes of roaring engine noise, as if someone was hot-rodding a vintage motorcycle up and down the street. During this 45-minute ordeal, not one sound emits from the baby monitor.

6.30 a.m. -- I walk into NJ's room and she's already awake, and ... laughing? Laughing! "Mommy's gone," she says, smiling. A good night's sleep is key to acceptance of bad news, apparently -- a fresher perspective and all that. She smiles and giggles through breakfast and eventually marches into day care with a determined jaunt. I must have pinched myself five times during this period.

10 a.m. -- The Wife calls to say she'll be home early today. I perform a celebratory dance in the basement.

Now NJ's got a little fever, so if she was coming down with something that certainly explains her wild behavior. I'm just glad The Wife's back. This morning, I didn't even hear it when NJ woke up at 3 a.m.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

... As Easy To Learn As Your ABCs

Who doesn't love giggly, funny-voiced childishness?

The kid's good, too.

This El Emenopee character sounds a little sketchy. He was one of Don Quixote's arch-rivals, right?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Overheard At The Dinner Table

"Daddy's funny."

Cheers to a job well done, Dad Solo!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Half-Formed Reflections On The Occasion Of Dad Solo's Second Father's Day

I'd been looking forward to Father's Day a little more than I thought I would after becoming a self-declared expert on fatherhood, and this morning didn't disappoint. I woke to the sound of NJ and The Wife coming up the stairs, and opened my eyes to the sight of the kid's beaming face next to mine on the bed. Blueberry pancakes, a nice bottle of wine to enjoy in a decade or so, and this hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind, artisan place mat:

I also received a Father's Day card, but NJ confiscated it because of the cute puppy on the front.
NJ loved her pancakes, too, particularly once she realized how fun (read: messy) they'd be to eat.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Tarantino!
I'd been a little blue around here the past few days because NJ has been on a cling-to-mommy jag that'd left me feeling a little out in the cold. (Turns out a dopey middle-aged man has relatively little control over the many quick-firing moods of a 22-month-old -- who knew? What's that you say: Everyone knows this? Ah. OK.) Perhaps NJ already gets the meaning of Father's Day, because it's been all hugs and smiles and delightful jibber-jabber this morning. In a few we're headed to Golden Gardens beach, where we'll brave the 55-degree June weather to build a few sand castles. I hope all fathers are feeling as happy and blessed as I am today.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bashful Show-Off

NJ's grandparents' visit was a success, by most standards. Much like her trip to Texas, she started off all bashful and shy with my folks, but being on her home turf apparently made a big difference, because she warmed to them quickly (if not totally).

My mother got a lot of attention -- particularly when she broke out the cookie dough for a baking session after we told her NJ often holds the TV remote to her ear like it's a phone and says "Grandma? Cookie?" She was more coy with my dad, but thankfully stopped calling him "Grandma" in favor of "Dad-dad," his now-official grandparenting moniker. She was still extremely shy with him, but she always made darn sure he was paying attention to her, no matter whether she was in her crib or high chair or on the sofa or running around the living room. He got lots of smiles and giggles, and when he carried her to the table for dinner their last night here, it looked like they were BFFs.

Daddy told me the raw cookie dough is better than the finished product. And, sorry ladies, but he's right!
We (and by "we," I mean "The Wife") were worried that NJ wouldn't play nice with her grandparents when her parents went off to enjoy the song stylings of a little musical combo from Ireland. We got her up unusually early that morning, cut her nap short and took her to the zoo in the afternoon, hoping she'd be worn out by early evening and we could get her in bed early before heading off to the concert. It worked, at least as far as we know; my mom and dad insisted they didn't have to check on her once all night. Flying two babysitters in from more than 2,000 miles away to see a show for which we held tickets for as long as we've had the kid -- it all worked out in the end.

Your mom loves you more, NJ, but she's loved Bono longer.
Yesterday I took my parents to the airport VERY EARLY so they could fly back to Tejas. NJ asked about them when she woke up, later, and again both when The Wife picked her up from day care and when they arrived home in the evening. And they came up again this morning in our breakfast semi-conversation. She's got Grandma and Dad-dad on her mind, which is good. She's got great taste.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Garden Gnome

Her garden-centric grandmother is coming to visit tomorrow, so NJ used the Memorial Day weekend to get some of her planting done.

That thumb she's always sucking turns out to be ... green.

She points to the window box and exclaims "My garden" whenever she sees it now. Next up, I plan to teach her to use the lawnmower.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As Bugs Bunny Would Say, 'What A Maroon'

Here I've been talking up NJ's love of Sesame Street and Elmo, in particular, for so long, and now there's this from the totally rational, thoughtful and commonsensical Ben Shapiro:

The book, published by Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins is perhaps at its most condemnatory when accusing the creators of Sesame Street of attempting to brainwash young children. It quotes Mike Dann, one of the show's founding executives, saying it "was not made for the sophisticated or the middle class".

Early episodes featured the character Grover breaking bread with a hippie. Oscar, who lived in a rubbish bin, was supposed to address "conflicts arising from racial and ethnic diversity."

"Sesame Street tried to tackle divorce, tackled 'peaceful conflict resolution' in the aftermath of 9/11 and had [gay actor] Neil Patrick Harris on the show playing the subtly-named 'fairy shoeperson'," notes Shapiro.

I've been duped by plush puppets. Man, is my face red! (Embarrassed red, not fellow-traveler red, I swear.)

What are we to do with this rogue's gallery of Destroyers of the American Way?

Never puts his hand over his heart when 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is played.
Why, just look at how green this one is! Any doubt that he's a filthy tree-hugger?
'H' is for 'health care.' I guess he also has a 'D' for 'death' and a 'P' for 'panels' handy, too.
Hey, Oscar, get out of the trash can and get a job!
Is this guy's cape ... pink? Hmmmm.
But NJ's heart will hurt the most when she finds out that her favorite Muppet is part of this America-hating cabal:

OK, Elmo, let's see your birth certificate!

I just hope the Wiggles don't turn out to be a terrorist sleeper cell. (Although, frankly, I wouldn't put it past them.)