Toddler Days 8.8.17

Be careful what you ask for.

Many times I find myself wishing, pleading, for some peace and quiet during the day. And when that quiet happens, there cannot be peace! Quiet toddlers are like quiet farts. They're dangerous!

As I was cleaning the kitchen from our breakfast bar making, I noticed something odd. I could hear myself think. My senses immediately heightened. I became acutely aware of everything around me.

Something was wrong. It was too quiet.

I casually walked out of the kitchen and into the dining room only to intercept my toddler casually walking into the dining room. He was carrying something and he was trying to hide it behind his back.

What could it be?

I easily figured out what he was hiding because he is small and the step stool behind his back is large.

He looked at me, right in the eyes. He didn't say a word. He just easily and casually started walking backwards out of the room with the step stool.

I wonder what scheme I interrupted. We'll never know.

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Toddler Days 8.2.17

Evening walks have become an exercise in inefficiency.

Q: How can one walk for nearly an hour and basically go nowhere?

A: Bring a toddler.

I've learned that there are really big sticks, big sticks, and play sticks. Depending on the mood of the toddler no stick is an appropriate stick, ever.

Rocks have similar categories, but for some reason always end up back home.

Acorns, flowers, bugs, birds, dirt, people, dogs, cats, other toddlers, squirrels/ chipmunks, trash, and anything shiny all have powers of attraction that override any type of command the adult can give, yell, plead, or offer.

When you bring a toddler on a walk, can you really call it a walk anymore? Truly, the toddler isn't fully participating in the activity of walking. He/she/it is getting pushed in a stroller, but let's be honest here. The new strollers are more like chariots or analog unmotorized Cadillacs. How can a toddler NOT enjoy these walks in their comfy 'mobile rooms with a view'? I'll tell you how they could not enjoy the walks:

You turned onto the wrong street.

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Toddler Days 7.27.17

You know something is amiss when your toddler who regularly wakes up precisely at 6:51am every single morning wakes up at 9:30am.

This is not cause for celebration. This is cause for alarm and a warning. Raise your threat level to orange. Just know that something will go down today.

How can a tiny human simultaneously demand and refuse the same thing?

Toddler: I want help cook!
Me: Okay, do you want to help me make a smoothie?
Toddler: No! Eggs!
Me: Sure, eggs. You can help me make eggs, I'd appreciate the help…
Toddler: NO! Fruit drink!
Me: Ahhh, smoothie?
Toddler: Yes.

– We proceed to make this delicious smoothie. He even turned on the Blendtec! Things are going so well!!!

Me: Smoothie looks good. Here is some in your cu…
Toddler: NOOOOOOOO!!!!

(Insert 10-15 screaming session, then small human approaches me and says through choking sobs)

Toddler: Do-doe
Me: Use your words. Say it again.
Toddler: No! Do-doe!
Me: Ahhhh, I just don't know what you're saying to me.

(Insert meaningless back and forth banter until, …bright idea!)

Me: Can you point to Do-Doe?
Toddler: (very calmly) Yes.

(Small human points to Play-Dough)

Me: Yes, lets play with the Play-Dough

The following 17 minutes was so confusing I could not follow. Every color and shape we were making was wrong. The wrong color for the wrong shape or vice-versa. I think we were having fun, however.

Suddenly, he had to get down and stop playing with the Play-Dough and he proceeded to march around the house with two Play-Dough stars on his head. (He has good posture).

After I located the remains of the destroyed and thrown stars, we were shopping with his shopping bag and 'play' vegetables.

For the record I follow instructions well, but I could never keep up with the demands of where I was supposed to be sitting/standing/walking during our shopping/restaurant experience. Keep in mind I have a 6 month old baby in my arms and I'm trying (successfully I might add) to feed and comfort her while following orders from an insane tiny dictator.

Finally we arrived at the fake restaurant where I was told to taste, but not touch anything because it was too hot. He proceeded to 'add salt' to everything. (I may have to review my seasoning practices).

I should add that at this point it is only 10:15 in the morning. I have yet to make or drink coffee and I'm just barely holding on to this alternate toddler reality.

Dance party ensued. We danced to Johnny Hodges and Genesis (Three Sides Live) until our living room slowly transformed into a parkour park as he launched himself onto and off of pretty much every surface in the room.

A streamer dance routine happened with two small blankets (amazingly nothing was broken.) Finally, lunch time.

I don't want to talk about lunch.

After another round of dancing, several books read and a MASSIVE, I'M TALKING HOW DID THIS COME OUT OF YOU, POOPS, it was naptime.

Sweet blissful sleep that actually happened for both of the sweet children. 90 minutes (I'm not joking because I timed it) of damn near sweet silence in the house.

I shed a little happy tear, then got some shit done.

How was your day?

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Toddler Days 7.25.17

Here is my attempt to document the crazy days I have with my 2.5 year old son. This isn't because my toddler boy is special and everybody needs to know about him and his activities , it's simply because he does some whacked out shit and I don't want to forget about it! You may also find it entertaining.

The day started off fine. The usual waking at 6:51am. Mom gets off to work after managing the toddler while I attempt to sleep a few extra minutes. The baby assures me that won't happen.

After some breakfast and a little playtime it's time to feed the baby. I sit on the couch with her and the bottle. Feeding is going fine. Between 8:30am and 9am, this is the progression of 'events':

– I'm approached and asked if I can help him put on his tinted goggles. I oblige.
– now he wants his decibel reducing headphones on. I oblige again.
– nothing for several minutes (I should have been concerned)
– I'm rolled up on by my toddler riding his Thomas the Tank Engine with his tinted goggles, headphones, a pair of toy binoculars around his neck
– my thoughts were, "well this is funny, I should get a picture" (I did)
– he gets off the engine lifts the storage compartment under the seat and hands me my drivers license. From my wallet. Which was in a drawer…'inaccessible'.
– he 'drives' off only to return with my college faculty I.D.
– I casually asked (because now I'm concerned that my wallet and its contents are as good as gone), "Could you bring me my wallet please?"
– he rides off. I don't know if he heard me due to the decibel reducing headphones
– alas he returns with my wallet!!
– it's empty.

I finally found all the contents of the wallet while he was napping. How could he not nap with the amount of miles he put in on his Thomas Engine?

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Finding The Groove

As a stay at home dad, loving husband, and freelance musician, my schedule is anything but steady and predictable!

Many days (or weeks…) can go by without making much progress on the goals I have set out for myself. Days blend together and turn into weeks and I’m still at square one with many ideas and projects. 

The way I’ve been dealing with these lulls of professional inactivity is to work on projects and ideas at night after my wife and son go to bed. I have traditionally been a late night worker, so this just seems like a natural time for me to be productive. Besides, haven’t the most genius of minds also been night owls?

I am trying to find new techniques to combat these stagnant periods of productivity, that will allow me to spend more time with the family, rather than staying up later than they do. 

My options include:

1. Keep staying up late and getting things done.

2. Get up earlier than the family and work in the morning!

3. Ignore the child during the day and work on projects and ideas. 

4. Put everything on hold for a few years until The Boy goes to kindergarten. 

Let’s work through these options. I’m not a jerk, and I think/hope I’m a good enough dad to quickly and easily throw out #3. I do enjoy progressing, learning, and I don’t want to miss great opportunities as they arrive, so I must also throw out option #4. 

That leaves either staying up late, or getting up early. Either way, it’s losing sleep and maybe even time with my beautiful family…

Tough choices to be sure. I think I’ll experiment with getting up early and working in the morning, that is if I can change my internal circadian rhythm. 

What other ideas would you suggest so that I can be productive and still be a responsibly loving father and husband?

Here’s to progress!

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Growth is Good

Growth comes in many forms. Sometimes I consider getting a load of laundry complete as a victory, which leads to growth in some fashion! Anytime we can get a check in the ‘WIN’ column, is growth.

The past few months I have been growing in several ways:

1. Practiced bass trombone everyday for 4 months
2. Put together my bass trombone audition resume
3. Put together my CV for the first time ever (it’s currently 7 pages)
4. Creatively entertaining a toddler
5. Getting finances together
6. Getting organized

mark twain procrasinationOk, well, a couple of those listed above need some work still, but growth is good. Anytime we can make a tiny bit of progress is one less day we have to sit around thinking about what we need/should/ought to be doing.

A little goes a long way!

So take it from me, the guy who hasn’t written anything on this blog in over a year…get something started, don’t worry about when that something will be finished, or if it will ever get finished, just start it. Baby steps, baby!

Let me know what you plan on starting, and how you plan on going about doing it!

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Stay At Home Dad: Part 2

A year ago, heck, 4 months ago, I would have no answer to the question:

“How do you entertain a baby?”

Maybe I would have answered, ‘Why do babies need to be entertained? Do they lead such stressful lives that entertainment is needed so they can relax?’

Now I know that Yes, babies need to be entertained!

As Griffin grows, his interests and his abilities change nearly every day. Each day he looks at something differently, his motor skills are developing, and what he finds boring alters. Some days simply making funny faces with funny voices will make him laugh (as much as a 4 month old can laugh). The next day, those faces/voices elicit blank stares. A favorite crinkly toy Lion is the best thing ever on Tuesday. By Thursday, he won’t touch it, only to turn around on Saturday and love the Lion once again! I have learned to keep a plethora of items around and ‘activities’ ready to go so The Boy can thoroughly enjoy his day.

Here are some things I’ve learned about what entertains a baby at home:

photo 3 (1)

The entertaining play mat! The Boy demonstrating Belly Time!

– The play-mat. I can put him on this mat on his back and he can reach for the plush animals dangling above him. He can kick his feet and even do a very slow ‘Curly-Shuffle’.
– Belly Time! On the same mat he can go on his belly and this builds up his strength in his neck/back
– Having him ‘stand’ on my lap, while I’m holding him up, and shifting him gently back and forth while singing the ‘Griffin moves back & forth and up & down and near & far’ song while he laughs and drools everywhere!
– READ BOOKS! There are certain books he really enjoys looking at. Anything colorful with lots of contrasts he’ll enjoy. He’s starting to grab the pages and ‘help’ me turn the pages too!
photo 4– Reading to him. Sometimes I’ll read to him news articles, the current book I’m reading, or St. Louis Cardinal articles. He likes watching my lips move. It’s pretty cool!
– I can prop The Boy up in a chair and actually get 15-20 minutes of trombone practicing in. The horns are shiny and make cool sounds, so he just stares in uncomprehending awe! (at least that’s how I’m interpreting his expressions!)
Johnny-Hodges-Triple-Play-450876– Dancing to records. After engaging his brain and body in activities he starts getting tired so on goes the record! Currently, he’s digging the Johnny Hodges album, Triple Play. By about the third tune, he’s fast asleep and off to bed with him!

At this point in the morning, I can maybe shower, do some laundry, read something, watch some TV, or nap with him! When he wakes up, the process starts all over again.

This schedule can be somewhat tedious, repetitive, sometimes exhausting, but always rewarding! As his fine motor skills and attention/recognition abilities develop, we’ll discover new ways to be entertained and have fun! (Of course, when the temperature starts moving up, we’ll be able to get OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!)

What have been successful activities you’ve used to entertain a baby?

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