Monday, December 27, 2004

First Christmas
Here it was, the first set of winter holidays with Aidan in tow - and it was one for the memory books. All those well seasoned parents who were extolling upon me how exciting it was going to be for Aidan and his new parents - how much fun the first Christmas with our young son was going to be... I'm now convinced that they all need to check themselves into a re-hab clinic as they must certainly be on some kind of mind/memory altering substance that can't possibly be legal.

To start off the two day festival of joy and merriment, Aidan came down with a cold – a nose running down all over the front of his face, watery, red eyes kind of cold; And the first evening went down hill from there. We were off and running. To Aidan’s credit, he really is a pretty good little boy when he’s sick. He seems to whine more when he’s well then when he’s sick. We whisked him to our first stop of the evening where Aidan enjoyed the company of Anya’s cousins and their gracious hospitality, then off to his grandfathers for more merriment and mingling. Aidan, runny nose, watery eyes and all put up with the unusually late hour in fine fashion. Although I think he was asleep in his car seat before the front tires actually made contact with the street on the way home.

Aidan didn’t really seem to get what was going on, not that I really expected him to I guess, but it would have been fun if I’d grasped the concept of opening gifts. I’d tear a corner here, rip a corner there – hoping that Aidan would, in his usual manner, grab the available loose piece of paper and pull on it to help unwrap his gifts. In his less then high energy state, he didn’t seem to have any interest in anything other then sitting on the floor, half heartedly pulling on some discarded ribbon. Poor little kid, his first Christmas and he was not feeling well enough to enjoy it..

Day two came and we were off and running again, Aidan seemed to feel a little better, but not much. His eyes were still red and watery; his nose still running. He did let his mother and I sleep in until 8am however – which I’m sure will be the last time we’ll be able to sleep that late on Christmas morning until he’s 16 and he’s too cool for Christmas mornings.

We started off Christmas at his maternal Grandmother’s, where Aidan enjoying a morning of crawling around, chewing on everything he could get his hands on including a bowl of nuts that Aidan seemed to particularly enjoy getting his hands into, grabbing as many nuts as he could in his hand and helping them escape the evil confines of the bowl and releasing them on to the floor. How thoughtful. Aidan didn’t seem all that interested in the opening of the gifts, even when prompted with a torn wrapping paper corner, he seemed more interested in aiding an abetting the escape of the just recently recaptured nuts.

Next stop (after a quick detour home for a short nap) Aidan’s Aunt Kristy and Uncle Chris’s house where there were more toys to play with and cats to chase around the house. Aidan seemed very interested in the cats. The cats had a slightly different opinion of Aidan but put up with him trying to grab their fur fairly well. Aidan showed off some new dance moves at the sound of a mooing cow toy which mooed Christmas carols. The second the cow would start into it moo melody Aidan would sit up, bring his hands up to his sides, bent at the elbows and start twisting his torso back and forth to the music. He’s sense taken up doing the same dance to pretty much any music he likes including commercial jingles and grunge rock tunes heard on the radio. At least he has a diverse set of musical tastes.

That about wraps up Aidan’s first Christmas. I’m sure he’ll be more into it next year, however he has been enjoying all of his new toys everyday since – his train with the small, soft rubber wheels, his new toy teddy bear, the musical mooing cow that Aunt Kristy decided that Aidan should have, his rocking horse and he’s even taken a spin around the neighborhood in his new radio flyer red wagon ATW (All Terrain Wagon, although Christopher decided that it was really for Aidan Terrain Wagon, which works just as well) with it’s large off road tires and high ground clearance. I’m sure Arnold Schwarzenegger must have one parked next to his Hummer.

Merry Christmas to all and to Aidan a good night.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Amazing (lack of) Grace
Coming up on the end of my rookie season as a member of the Parent team, I’m still amazed at this entire child development thing. It really can’t be called anything other then a ‘Thing’ as how would one really explain it? Here you have this little mound of flesh and fairly elastic bone dropped off at your doorstep by this unusually large, white, long beaked bird and in a matter of a few short months, the mound is nearly walking and shows uncanny cognitive ability. How does that happen? It must be all the time he spends with his mother as the only parental influence I’ve had is playing with him by throwing Aidan up in the air and catching him until he starts to turn green. There goes my parent of the year award.

Having just passed the eleven month mark, young lord of the manner Aidan is becoming fairly adept at walking but still seems to prefer crawling from one place to another. I’m not really sure why. No, he’s not terribly stable while walking and does seem to have a tendency to start leaning forward ahead of his small, but trying to catch up feet, but still, he must notice that it’s much quicker (and easier on the knees) to walk from point A to point B. Although, being lower to the ground I’m sure it doesn’t hurt as much when he trips while crawling as it may falling while walking – so, left to his own devices, he still selects the four appendage drive over the two. When he does walk unassisted from me to the Mrs across a distance of around 10 feet or so, he does pretty well; Taking a few steps, stopping to steady himself, then takes a few more before stopping again, then, as he sees his target is close, suddenly turns in to the Road Runner, feet seemingly spinning around in circles at the hip as he makes a dashing charge towards Mommy – falling forward as he does as somehow, even though his feet seem to be moving at a speed rivaled only by Saturday morning cartoon characters, his upper body still seems to be faster – but he always makes it to the awaiting arms at the other end.

I’m also noticing that Aidan exhibits selective genius at times. Sure he knows how the buttons on the TV work, how to turn on his mobile in the middle of the night, and how to get his baby telephone to work by individually pressing the buttons on it to get it to make different noises, however – as sure as I am that he understands the word ‘No’ he simply chooses to play the baby card and act as if he doesn’t. For example: Take the Christmas tree – Aidan’s first – he will, at times, crawl over to it and attempt to touch the lights or ornaments and we’ll sternly tell him ‘No’ and he gets it, sitting down, turning away from the tree and moving somewhere else. At other times he’ll simply ignore the ‘No’ and continue on, reaching out and grabbing the tree, or the lights or ornaments, even as I go over and push his hand away sternly telling him ‘No’ – over and over again and even after the 20th time he still tries to reach out and grab the tree. Selective genius.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Welcome to Month Eleven
It has been a while since my last entry into Aidan’s Father’s blog – not because there haven’t been notable events which have transpired since the last posting, not because I’d forgotten about it – I’ve just been lazy. I know – hard to believe. So, let’s pick up from where we left off – scene 10; that’s where Aidan had his first experiment with sleep training….. (fade to black)

(fade in to flashback) nothing but tears and wailing until that which was contained within the stomach, um, was no longer. (fade to black)

It’s been so much parental joy since that time. Aidan has developed a gag reflex which my not so blushing any longer bride – the rosy cheeks are more from frustration then the joy of new motherhood – can certainly attest. Recently having just fed our young, fair haired buck of an offspring Anya apparently noticed an odd look on Aidan’s face, just before all that had just gone down, came back to visit. All over his bib, all over his highchair and all over himself.

Bounding to the assistance of my wife’s displeased cries I removed the highchair tray to take it to the kitchen sink to wash it down. No longer then I had turned on the water then a second, disgruntled cry came from the a joining room – Aidan had apparently not finished during the initial round or Gerber purging. Now it was also all over the carpet. Yippie. I’m not sure this was covered in the fine print when I signed up for this duty.

After some extensive clean up (I’m certainly glad I decided to get that mini carpet cleaner – It’s really come in handy) all was back to normal.

We’ve also returned to the issue of sleep training – I mean why not? It was so much fun the first time around. This time we were armed with the knowledge gained by Anya’s reading of an article on how to sleep train your child. Ok, we’re armed and we’re prepared with a pan of action: Take Aidan to his room, sit with him and read one of his books to him while letting him eat from his bottle, then place him in his crib and (advisory: there will be a bit of crying and fussing the first night) allow him to fall asleep on his own – getting used to falling asleep in the crib.

An hour and a half of non stop wailing and one parental observer shift change we finally give up and provide him with another bottle which, like magic, puts him to sleep in under 5 minutes…. Round One goes to the infant. Who know the little guy had so much staying power – I’d have thought his tear ducts would have dried up around the 45 minute mark but no; he was still going strong.

Not to be deterred night two came and went without much fuss – Aidan was asleep within 30 minutes, just like the article said. Of course the article also said the entire training process could take up to 9 days before your little bundle of joy-most-of –the-time became used to his new routine. Night three only took 15 minutes. And it’s been fine ever since – even for midday naps. I’m attributing the rapid acclimation schedule to the the fact that my son is a genius. At times he even has the wild Einstein hair providing further, uncontestable proof. Although, seemingly for the sole purpose of putting my ego back in check, Aidan still has an affinity for indoor, potted tree dirt. I’m so proud. To add further ego trampling, young master Aidan has just somehow taken one of the keyboard keys off of the laptop sitting next to me, put it in his mouth, gagged on it, and spit up on the carpet.. yep, proud doesn’t begin to be a proper descriptor.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Genius I Tell Ya
My son is a genius! At only 10 months old he can wave ‘bye-bye’ and clap on command! I have no idea if that is normal or not, and really don’t care, I’m going with the ‘genius’ explanation. Then again, he’ll turn around and start trying to eat an aluminum pie tin just after doing something genius like – maybe it’s selective genius. He is very close to walking however. He walks himself around the house behind his little walker toy and will occasionally take a few steps on his own before falling. Hopefully he’ll be walking on his own before Christmas, we’ll see.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Turkey Day

Aidan’s first Thanksgiving has come and gone without much excitement. He did enjoy turkey and vegetables for dinner – the Gerber variety which looks very similar to the chicken and vegetables, and beef and vegetables - a small jar of brownish mush. For all I know, it could all be the same stuff, how am I to tell (without actually tasting the stuff)? Are Aidan’s taste buds even developed enough to discern the difference between the darker brown mush and the slightly more tan colored mush? Who knows, I think I should buy stock in Gerber, they’ve obviously got a racquet going that’s lasted generations.

I have found that, if we are attending a function, any function, where other small children will be in attendance there really isn’t any need for us to load up the wagon queen family truckster with enough toys to start our own ebay store. Other children seem to come with their own truckload of toys that Aidan can play with, slobber on, chew on and then make a quick exit – what could be better! Although to be fair, we should start bringing some toys for Aidan to play with. Besides, who knows where those other toys have been, who’s been chewing and slobbering on them before Aidan landed his pudgy little hands on them.
It sounded like a good idea at the time...

Recently, during a discussion concerning raising children, something I decided I had a mild interest in cocking one ear towards given my present situation, the subject of how to get your infant child to go to bed (and to sleep), at a time of your choosing rather then the child’s. This is certainly something I was interested in as our nightly ritual is waiting on the couch, waiting for young Master Aidan to fall asleep so that we can then relocate him to the nocturnal confines of his crib – only to have him wake up anywhere from 2-5 hours later, but that’s a different issue.

So, as I continued to listen to the conversation, it appeared to be mutually agreed upon by those recent yet experienced parents participating in the discussion, that putting the child in his/her crib at the specified time, say eight o’clock, and simply allowing them to cry themselves to sleep quickly established a nightly routine where the child fell asleep without much fuss.

As the adage goes, you get what you pay for (this being free, eavesdropped obtained advice).

Being tired of waiting up until anywhere between ten and eleven each night for Aidan to fall asleep, I decided that it might be worth a few nights of crying for a long term gain of an established routine. It had worked for others – so they said – and if it worked for them, chances are it would work for us too. So I carted the semi conscious offspring up to his crib, placed him in his nocturnal crate, and covered him up with his blanket. Aidan immediately rolled him self over and stood up against the side of the crib. I picked him up, put him back down in his crib, carefully covered him backup, quickly exited the area and returned downstairs to the near immediate crying of young son number one.

The noise coming out of Aidan’s room ranged from, sniffling whining to something akin to what must have been heard during the battles the crusades. After approximately five minutes, I returned to the scene of the crime. Poor Aidan was all red-faced, tears running down the side of his cheeks, laying down, on his knees, face buried in his blanket. I picked him up and immediately found that his night sleeper was fairly damp – much damper then five minutes of crying could have produced… I investigated further… to find that poor Adian had cried so hard that he had thrown up – all over his blankets, all over his bedding.

What a terrible parent I am! How could I have put my son through this traumatic experience? What was I thinking? Nothing quite stabs you through the heart then having your 10 month old child cry so hard he throws up. I don’t think we’ll be trying that again any time soon. Man, I hope we work out the bugs on version 1.0 before version 2.0 is placed into production on May 2nd.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The early bird... is generally tired and ruffled
I’m not really sure where I lost control; it may have never had it to begin with which is certainly the most likely explanation. At some point, even if I did have any control – it’s long been lost to a mini-me like clone who’s only real means of communication is laughing, crying, or trying to rip my nose off of my face. Heck, the kid can’t even walk yet (although, to be fair, he’s working on it, taking a few steps here and there before crumbling to the ground like a member of the 2004 Washington Husky football team).

I used to be able to sleep through the night – now, my mini-me alarm clock cranks up the vocal chords at the not so reasonable hour of 5am. The problem with this is that the Aidan alarm is early enough to be really annoying and provides a rude awaking from a semi restful slumber, but late enough that there really isn’t any point in going back to sleep before having to get up for work anyway.

So, at my bride’s subtle, pillow muffled, “Will you go get him.” suggestion; I drag my half aware, semi conscious carcass out of bed and over to Lord of the Manor Aidan’s room to find him, yet again, standing up in his crib, hands against the railing as if waiting for the newly established airport security TSA pat-down slash breast fondling examination.

He is pretty cute in his fuzzy little full body suit fleece pajamas though.

Depending on the hour, either the aforementioned 5am hour or the earlier, seemingly ever-popular 1-3am stretch, Aidan is either appeased by stuffing any one of his hundreds of pacifiers into his constantly open, semi-toothed oral cavity which seems to be enough to get him back to sleep at the earlier hours – or he gets brought to the big bed for a early morning snack to put him back to sleep. The pacifier solution is great. Stuff the thing in and stumble back to bed before ever really waking up.

The snack solution pretty much bites.

Not only does the snack solution generally result in it not being worth going back to sleep, but Aidan is brought to our bed for his snack. Why is this so bad? Well, first there is the period of time where Aidan seems to have a need to roll and squirm all over the bed, so there’s no rest to be had during that time. Plus, of the 25% of the bed that I’m normally allotted, having to cling to the headboard with every fingernail entrenched into the wood so as to keep myself from falling off the edge of the mattress and on to the unforgiving floor, I find that Aidan now takes half of my already meager 25%.

Given my now 12.5% mattress allowance and really annoying, control losing 5am hour, I give up on any allusion that I might get a few more winks closer to 40 and resign myself to the fact that the day should be considered started and I should just get up and head to work. While I may not have any control at work either, at least I command 100% of my chair real-estate and requests for anything from me come via email, not a wailing set of 10 month old lungs.

Monday, November 22, 2004

He’s a Bruiser
So here are Aidan and I - playing on the floor having a fun time. Aidan is laughing and screeching - enjoying being played with… when it happened. I never saw it coming. Aidan thought it was such great fun; he tried it more then once. I, on the other hand, had a slightly different opinion.

As we’re playing on the floor, my face close to his, he suddenly (I’m going with lighting quick as I’m refusing to admin that my reflexes are already starting to slow) reached out with his short, pudgy fingers and took firm hold of my right nostril and tried to detach my nose from my face. Sure, it kind of smarted the first time… It was the third time where I started to get a bit annoyed – and finally smart enough to move out of arms reach.

The kid’s getting stronger. Ouch. On the bright side, I was able to breathe better after that. Maybe I should schedule Aidan in for regular sessions, “Come on son, come over here and give me a good nose rip.. no, don’t mind all the blood, I’m fine, really.”

Aidan also managed to have his first unsupervised experience with the stairs. He slipped past the (and I’m going to step up to the plate and, well dispense the blame) normally eagle eye of my blushing bride…. Ok, no, that’s not true. It was me – my fault, my lack constant of parental supervision which allowed the stealth like Aidan to slip past the check point and move towards the stairs. Now, to Aidan’s credit, he must have made it most of the way down the first flight of stairs as I only heard two thud like sounds. No real damage done (thankfully) only a shocked and surprised Aidan who provided a short pause before starting to wail. After a short bout of tears, all was well again – as he attempted to make another dash for the stairs a short time later. Guess it’s time to put that second baby gate up – although we were really hoping that Aidan was going to pick up on the going down the stairs backwards. He may have picked it up though as he didn’t fall very far… he must be close to a breakthrough, so to speak.

Aidan is also close to another breakthrough – walking! He’s taken his first, unsteady unassisted step. Not really on a regular basis, but it’s a start. He’s quickly mastered the little wheeled walker toy – where he stands up, grabs the handle and starts nearly running down the hallway. The only problem is that he seems to kick one wheel with each step, so he unknowing turns himself away from his straight line generally ending up into a wall, a piece of furniture or visiting guest. Now if only he’d figure out how to redirect himself we’d be in great shape. As it is he’ll walk himself into some object then wait there for assistance – as if AAA is going to send a tow truck to help him out. Once straightened out, he’s off like a shot, making it another 10 feet before running into another obstacle. I’m sure it’s due to my providing the shallow end of the gene pool. Probably should have found a walker toy with a built in airbag.

Monday, November 15, 2004

It's true, Aidan used to be cute.

It was cute when I would be holding him and he'd lean over and start sucking on my nose. Now he has teeth. It's not so cute any more as he tends towards using these jaw bone entrenched knives of Satan.

It was cute when he'd reach out with his tiny hands, grasping hold of my lower lip with those short, pudgy fingers. Now he seems to have the strength of a side show freak who wants to detach my lip from the rest of my face.

It was cute when Aidan would reach out and try to grasp Anya's hair and look at it with wonder. Now Aidan appears to be trying to provide Anya with a hairline much like my own - one handful of hair at a time.

It was cute when Aidan would wake up in the middle of the night and be standing in his crib, steadying himself on the front rails of his captive cell. Now it's just not; It's old, and I'm generally just too tired to notice and provide him slack for evoking anything resembling a cuteness factor.

It was cute when Aidan would take his naps in the afternoon and early evening. It is probably still cute, if only he would stop moving and settle down long enough to take his naps in the afternoon and early evening and not fight sleep with every inch of his compact, red eyed, constantly fussy and whining being.

It was cute when Aidan would reach up and try and grasp the knobs of the kitchen cabinets. Now he pulls them open and attempts to empty all the contents on to the floor - and not just the lower drawers but the second ones up as well -those that he needs to stand up on his toes in order to see into to grab the most breakable item. (Mental note: need to stop at store for more thick rubber bands - possibly duct tape.)

I can hardly wait for his sibling to arrive. That should double the fun... and double the bar tab.

In all fairness to Aidan - he's still cute (at least to his parents who must consider him cute and accept him as is - it's illegal to post him on eBay), he's just growing up.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Relative Fun
Sunday was probably the most complete Ridgeway/Furse/Stutz family gathering held in a number of years. Everyone was there including all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course all the cousin’s children. Aidan, not the youngest in attendance this time (that honor went to newly arrived Logan of Cousin Mike and wife Lauren), was still the youngest, mobile kid in the house. Crawling from one person to the next, from one room to the next – each move made with the vigor and enjoyment of, well, an infant in the midst of a large group of people, Aidan seemed to enjoy himself and was constantly on the move. Aidan seemed to either be on the move trying to keep up with the other kids running around or trying to chase after one of the two dogs in attendance.

Aidan even let loose his musical talents while sitting at the piano pounding and poking at the keys along with older, second cousin Kyle. Aidan seemed to really enjoy hitting the keys and having them make noise back. He even found that simply poking at individual keys resulted in a solid tone to be emitted from the light wood colored upright.

The evening was a great success and Aidan seemed to have a great time with the other kids and the dogs and Aidan was asleep about 10 seconds after being placed back in his car seat for the trip back home – thoroughly tuckered out after a full evening of food, relatives, fun and activity.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Blissful Slumber - Not if I can help it.
What is it about a sleeping baby? They're so cute, so peaceful, so innocent. Let's take like Aidan for example; lying there without a care in the world and yet I just have to disturb him by sticking my finger in his ear. Not enough to wake him up, but just enough to cause him to twitch a bit. Sure, it's mean. I know that. Hey, let's be honest, why should he get to enjoy such restful sleep during the middle of the day when he won't allow me to get a full nights sleep? I figure a minor ear poking for my own personal entertainment is a small price for Aidan to pay for keeping me up hours on end in the dead of night. Besides, it's fun. A little poke in the ear and a minor face puckering results - that in itself is cute and provides minutes of entertainment. Although, it is pretty amazing that, even as an infant, he knows to bring his hand up and try and swat away whatever it is that is disturbing his blissful slumber without hardly a thought to it.

I also noticed that Aidan snores on occasion. I think he must get that from his mother. I've never heard myself snore so he couldn't possibly have obtained that trait from my shallow end of the gene pool. Little Aidan, eyes closed, looking so peaceful... suddenly SNORT! Snore... SNORT!... and back to uneventful rest. I'm thinking of starting my own on-line Aidan Sort betting pool... hey, I have to come up with some way to pay for his European horse shoe mentorship program - now just where did I put that spam email that told me how to help a displaced middle east royal family by accepting five million dollars from them... I may need that.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Aidan's First Halloween went by without much fuss. We did go to a friends house who has their annual Halloween pumpkin carving party - it used to be a bunch of semi intoxicated college friends playing with gords and knives - but these days it's mostly kid chaos. So may kids running around you can't hardly move without stepping on either a small human or a discarded toy.

Aidan was certainly the youngest child at the orange gord fest and, while he wasn't feeling 100% as he was still recovering from his bout with a bug, he certainly made his best effort to fit in and play with the other kids. The problem was that few of the other kids wanted to play with Aidan. Granted, Aidan is at a bit of a disadvantage in that he was the only one in attendance who was not yet able to walk - but he'd crawl around trying to keep up with the other kids as they ran around the house. Aidan would crawl one direction, following some child who had just gone past in a flurry of flying Halloween costume material, then, just as Aidan had reached a half way point, the target child would come flying back the other direction. Aidan would stop, sit up, turn himself around and head back in the new direction of the faster then a speeding bullet ankle biter.

I had to give Aidan credit, he never gave up. Kids would go racing up the wooden stairs, Aidan would slowly follow - One step at a time, making his way up the first few steps before the kids came back down the steps past him. The problem is that Aidan has yet to figure out how to descend the steps he's just crawled up. So he'd stand on the step he's last conquered, hands on the next one, looking around trying to figure out what to do next... Whoosh! up the steps go some more kids and Aidan takes off up the next step in hot pursuit! Until myself or Anya would go grab him and bring him back down the steps; much to Aidan's dismay.

The eldest of the non-adults didn't care to have Aidan hanging around with them as they played with wooden train track segments, creating any number of different track routes for the next 'train of doom' to go flying off of. Aidan kept taking the train engines off the track and putting them in his mouth as soon as they came within hands reach. Heh Heh. Serves those kids right for not wanting to play with Aidan in the first place. But I may be biased.

Aidan was not without costume as some friends had some smaller costumes from holiday's past and brought a tiny tiger outfit with them for Aidan to borrow. There certainly is an advantage to having a child so much later then all of your friends - they all seem to have outfits, costumes, shoes, jackets... all hardy used but much too small for their now walking and talking offspring. There really should be some kind of online children's clothing swap meet website or something - as long as it's not hosted by that evil empire of cash swallowing baby merchandise Babies R Us. So Aidan was a small tiger for Halloween and fit right in with all the other children in their variety of princess, pirate, roundtable knight and other live animal outfits. I can't wait when, after a few years, Aidan the youngest is suddenly bigger then some those who were to busy running around or building train tracks to play with him. It will be interesting to see what he does. Although I did notice that many of the female kids (and adults for that matter) did stop and try and play with Aidan.... that's my boy.

Monday, October 25, 2004

There's nothing worse.. then a sick baby. You can see that they are uncomfortable. You can see that they are upset. You can see that they clearly are not the normally happy baby seen nearly every other day and you can't do anything to immediately relieve them of their obvious discomfort. In my case; Maybe it's the encrusted, dried snot which has taken up residence under Aidan's tiny nostrils or the welled up reddish eyes... Suddenly it occurs to me - hey, Aidan isn't feeling well, He could possibly be sick! I'm quick like that. I've also seen an episode of 'ER' on television.

Quick! What to do?? Dial 911!, call out the national guard!, contact MI-5! What would Dr. Drake Remory do in this situation?! Fortunately my level headed bride took charge before any phone calls were made and we had a fleet of helicopters and ambulances descended upon the shanty which is the Stutz Estate.

Thursday night Aidan was certainly not feeling well. Friday there was no question. Whimpering, moaning, crying, coughing, tossing his cookies, er, Cheerios on occasion and a temperature of 101.4 all provided indications that Aidan had come down with a bug. It's a good thing a flu vaccine is so readily available - oh, wait, never mind.

Anya took Aidan to the doctor where, much like when you take a squeaky car to the auto mechanic, Aidan stopped coughing and seemed to be his happy baby self again. Fortunately the doctor was able to hear Aidan cough just before the appointment was over and the doctor did prescribe some medication to help prevent any type of possible infection the illness might cause.

As of Sunday Aidan is back to his old, insists on playing with everything in the recycle bin self and laughing and smiling at each empty yogurt container or discarded cardboard scrap he finds. He was able to play with and smile at his Grandma Stutz when she came over to visit and seemed quite content to pretend that he doesn't really enjoy watching television while Grandma Stutz was watching. Well, maybe he did crawl up to the television and put his hands on the screen. I'm guessing Grandma Stutz wasn't fooled.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Gear Shifting
I've noticed, using my now vast experience as a new parent and through my keen observational skills, that Aidan has moods. No, really, he does. These moods seem to come and go with the wind. Some, I can determine, come about as a direct reaction to some will which I, within my full parental rights, have imposed on my young offspring such as, 'No, you can't beat upon your grandmothers head with your wildly flailing hand gestures.' Some just come on like a tornado, then vanish just as quickly but the devastation left behind is just as horrific.

I've also noticed that there is a transitional phase at times; a period of a few seconds where Aidan seems greatly confused and mingles his laughing and crying - not really being sure what it is that he wants to convey... 'should I be happy that dad is playing with me, or upset that he won't let me dig my hands into the dirt and then stuff them into my mouth?' It's as if Aidan is driving a mental sports car and has missed a gear shift... vvvrrrrooommmm..... happy...screech.. shift... wwwhaaaaa unhappy..... screech.... shift... happ, grind, unha, grind.. ha... stall. And you can see it in his eyes... confusion... lost... missing his driving gloves... wondering why he can't have peanut butter yet... 'what is that warm sensation in my diaper?'... somthing - you can tell - is going on in that little head.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Miscellaneous Ramblings
Since we didn’t make another trip to the Evil Baby Store I don’t have a single topic to commit to paper, or computer bits as the case may be, to document this next New Daddy entry – so I’ll just spit out a number of recent experiences and observations….

Spitting Out: Speaking of spitting things out, Aidan has become familiar with the concept. Aidan will, much to my dismay, often find some kind of paper, cardboard, plant leaf or other organic material to stuff into his mouth, chomp on, mulch, and recompress into some pulp like material only to spit it out. This includes any of my unread magazines, books, book covers, pizza boxes found in the recycling bin, plant foliage, plant dirt, magazine subscription cards… anything he can tear up, rip off or stuff into his mouth as a single piece. Well, at least he’s not swallowing the stuff – yet. I do try and catch him, either before, during or after the act which is met with wails of disagreement on Aidan’s side. Apparently having his father’s finger in his mouth, fishing around to try and remove a foreign object is far worse then the taste or texture of potting soil. Makes me think I should wash my more often.

New Vocal Ranges: We discovered much to our surprise and semi dismay, that Aidan has developed a new vocal range – both in pitch and volume. In playing with a ball at a recent birthday gathering, Aidan was so enamored with the new found toy and source of entertainment that he felt he should continually communicate this joy with all found within a 5 block radius of his current position. To accomplish this, he produced a new found, high pitched, very loud laughing screech like sound. I was thrilled. Maybe his mother and I should consider updating his current set of toys to include a new rubber ball - I’m sure our neighbors are getting far too much quiet, blissful rest on the weekends anyway.

Magnetism: Apparently Aidan has something that attracts other kids to want to engage with him (could be the residual smell of sweet potatoes produced by remnants found in Aidan’s hair). We took Aidan to the local mall to play on one of the two children’s play structures found there. There were many other children, all much older and in most cases, larger then Aidan – all jumping on, off, and around the foam like representation of a local ferry boat. Aidan would crawl over to the ferry and stand himself up next to it, just watching all the other kids crawl, climb and walk all over the eight foot long spongy toy. As I watched him standing there first one, then two, then three other kids made their way over and tried to play with Aidan – either trying to hoist him up on to the structure as one little girl did (unsuccessfully) or to offer Aidan the use of his small, matchbox sized fire truck toy. I noticed that none of the other kids were interacting with any of the other kids in this manner – other then two little girls who seemed to have a common interest in each others stuffed animals they had brought along. It was simply nice to see Aidan being able to interact with other children and not being scared or intimidated by them, but rather reaching out, touching them and attempting to talk by using his own, unique language of coos, clucking noises and tonal utterances. Hopefully this continues as he grows older and is able to walk and talk to the other kids.

Checkup: Aidan had his 9 month checkup last week. He’s about 24lbs, and bigger then a bread basket. More teeth are making their way down (or up depending) however haven’t quite started to poke through yet. Other then that he’s still in the mid to high 90 percentile for eight and weight with proportional sized head. Whew!

Walking: Well, I’m trying to teach Aidan to walk.. bit by bit. He seems to understand the concept, but finds it much easier to crawl around. He’s still working on the balance issue, but can certainly walk from one room to the next with some balance assistance. Hopefully by month 10 we’ll see at least a few steps.

Finding Employment: Aidan hasn’t found a job yet and is still being supported by his parents – a source of concern given his increasing food consumption tendencies! Aidan is now eating all kinds of food – both baby and normal food. I’ll slip him a small portion of whatever we’re having for dinner to see if he likes it – he never does at first. Aidan will immediately come up with what can only be described as the horrible, disgusting, can’t believe you fed this to me, baby bitter beer face; and then he’ll eat it and open his mouth for more – followed by another round of ugly, I can’t believe you did it to me again, unhappy face – followed by another gaping mouthed invitation to insert more of the item. He still won’t eat whipped peas. I can’t blame him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Baby Gates
No, I'm not talking about the Redmond multi billionaire during his formative pre-super geek years. I'm referring to those savers of skulls, those preventers of perambulating, those items which required yet another trip to the Evil Baby Empire - Babies R Us. (Queue the ominous music)

As young son Aidan has become more mobile during the eighth month of his young life, he's also discovered the stairs. He's mastered the stairs. He is drawn to the stairs. He is one with the stairs. He'll scramble over to them and, without any hesitation, begin his assent on Mount St. Staircase without any safety line or climbing harness. First standing up next to the first stair, he then puts his tiny but increasingly pudgy hands on the second to steady himself before he brings up first one, then both knees on to the first stair... and it's all uphill after that. With relative ease Aidan quickly makes his way about half way up the stairs then pauses to check to see if either his mother or I are behind him watching this great accomplishment. Which we're not - until there is a sudden gasp and a 'Aidan NO!' and a scrambling of parents making their way to the stairs to either bring him back down or act as the support team for Aidan's conquering of the acclivity.

As new parents we are certainly proud that our young son is so mobile and has quickly mastered going up the stairs (not coming down), however we are certainly apprehensive at the same time for obvious reasons. As a result we made a trek back to the Evil store this past weekend in search of a baby gate. We did think to measure the space for the length of gate that we needed prior to our leaving (only because Anya thought of it). Anya also had a coupon for some free baby monitor with purchase of $75 or more. Come on - you can't get out of that store without spending at least $100 so the $75 goal is nearly a joke. With measurements and coupon book in hand we entered the black hole of commerce which is Baby's R Us.

Making our way past the drone, 'I'm too good for this job but I was turned down for that DOT job where I could simply stand holding a stop sign so I'm stuck here for now' store employee and over to the baby gate section where we quickly discovered that, like with anything baby related, there are only 50 or so choices to choose from - each touting that if you don't choose it you will be doing a grave disservice to your small offspring and will forever be branded with the scarlet letter 'B' for 'Bad Parent'.

Personally, I didn't want to have to drill holes in anything in order to mount the gate. There are two choices for gates, destroy your wall and banister with a drill bit and screws or have a fairly secure but not rock solid pressure gate. I wanted the pressure gate. So now we only have about 20 choices, (Whew, cut down the options by half - we're on a roll.) Gates come in lengths, all of which are too short unless you purchase the 'optional' gate extender sections - which of course are not in stock for the gate you are interested in. Those which are in stock are for the gates you don't want - which is probably why they are still in stock as no other self respecting or child caring parent would even consider the model with the spiky, grounds protecting gate tops with the optional door bell, electric shock applicator and remote gate opener. Fake ceramic guard dog with realistic sound optional.

There were, of course, other parents looking for the same thing we were, gates long enough to fit the space but not requiring the drilling of wood. One father near by asked a good question - 'Why do we need a gate? Can't we wait until the child is at least crawling?' And I'm thinking - boy, sure, pull out the 'our child isn't even born yet' card. As his wife, girlfriend, mistress - whomever, couldn't argue the point - he was able to turn and run the other direction. Lucky son of a @$%$#$%.....

Which left my fine bride and I alone with one other expectant mother who felt she needed the gate now. We himmed, we hawwwed comparing gates, extension pieces and materials until Anya ventured down to the far end of the display rack to find one company who had gotten it right. A single purchase which included a latching, opening gate, with two extension pieces included and didn't require me to plug in a drill! Who'd of thought some company must have actually asked parents what it is that they wanted before turning out some products requiring the purchase of the 'optional' extensions. Amazing.

About that same time the expectant mother had made her way down the isle and was also now looking at the same model. I brought one down for her and two for us. Whew! decision made. On to find the 'free with $75 purchase' baby monitor - the criteria which we will now have far exceeded.

Making our way to the baby monitor section of the Evil Empire Store we find, after looking up and down, left and right and then back again, that the item is not to be found. I sucked up my male, never need directions, pride and tracked down one of the BRU drones to inquire as to the location of said item. 'They're at the register.' was the succinct reply without hardy looking up to see what yahoo was asking such a question. But of course! I should have thought of that! Inventory being held at the register, not in the actual location of all the other like items. It's pure genius! I don't know why all retailers don't do that. Just keep the inventory at the register - no need to actually place it on the floor to be found by your customers where they would expect to find the item. I'm sure that cuts down on the number of items being sold, less items being sold, less effort required to keep the items in stock!

I must be wrong. Upon reaching the register, manned by yet another 'I'm not sure what I want to do with my life - and all the gas station attendant drone jobs were already taken' employee I inquired about the baby monitors, providing the coupon book with description and picture of the item. It was ignored. The drone scanned the few items we had and rung up the total. I asked again about the baby monitor. 'Oh.' she replied, 'did you want one of those'?


After indicating that I did infact want one of the monitor units the drone flew in to a near panic, calling for assistance as the item, although free, had not be rung up on the bill and now required special handling that they apparently didn't cover in drone school.

The lead drone came over to see what all the commotion was about and quickly replied that they were out of stock. 'That is a 'while supplies last' item' she stated coldly and moved on without further explanation. Nothing quite like Evil Baby Empire's management and customer service training program graduates. I'd hate to encounter those that don't make it though the two and a half hour course.

We completed our purchase and once again escaped with items totaling more then the $100 or less goal. Again.

At least they don't have a large talking giraffe - that might just put me over the edge.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Reset Button?
I've noticed that everything these days seems to have a 'Reset' button. Computers have one, although they call it a 'Reboot', PDA's have one, TV's, Cable Boxes and even some home appliances these days have one. This Reset feature is provided on all of these items to allow the user to reset the unit back to it's original default settings - say, after you've messed something up playing around with the settings and the unit no longer works.

Where is Aidan's Reset button?!!!

I, as a new parent, need this button! Each time I mess up the internal programming of Aidan - 'Beep' reset.

Each time Aidan starts climbing up the stairs - 'Beep' Reset. (Note: Simply placing a baby gate across the stairway would prevent this from happening, however I haven't been able to muster up the nerve to go back to the Evil Baby Empire - Baby's R Us.)

Each time Aidan makes his way over to the indoor, potted tree and starts burying his tiny little fingers in the dark potting soil - 'Beep' Reset - restore defaults to prior 'dirt is not fun indoors' setting.

Each time Aidan starts displaying his displeasure for no immediately apparent reason - even if it might be a valid reason but I as a parent can't figure it out 'Beep' Administrative Reset.

I can't believe that nobody has developed this yet. In the age where pets are tracked by GPS locator chips in their necks - we haven't developed a Reset button for infants yet? Shocking. Maybe what is actually needed is a Baby Radar jamming device (note previous blog entry concerning Radar). 'Target: Plant Dirt, Locked On.... Wait! target lost, move to alternate plastic building block target....'

Of course, in time, I'm sure Aidan would begin to wonder where my reset button is. I'm sure my lovely bride already does.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Baby Radar
How is it that babies know exactly where NOT to go? Is there an inherently provided 'Baby Radar'? Aidan seems to certainly have, and makes continual use of, this feature.

Last night, as my lovely wife was off enjoying some baby free time with her girlfriends, Aidan and I were left home, alone. After looking at each other, each trying to figure out what to do with the other, Aidan determined that I was not interesting enough to play with and ::Beep Beep Beep - Target in sight...::: immediately headed towards the stairs. Aidan has learned that he is able to climb the stairs, slowly, one at a time, pausing at each step to be sure that someone is watching his each small accomplishment during the vertical ascent.

I headed Aidan off at the pass, er, bottom stair and brought him back to his toy depot in the middle of the floor. After discovering that there were no new toys to play with :::Beep Beep Beep - Target Aquired::: off he headed to the indoor potted tree in the far corner of the family room. The pot, being full of dark, damp dirt is certainly fun to dig one's hands into and play with. Once again I swooped in and interceeded much to the disgust and subsequent verbal complaining of Radar Aidan. Having cleaned his forward based crawling appendages providing, what I was to find out, better traction for faster mobility, Aidan was again placed on the toy laden reservation where he sat - for nearly 5 seconds.

:::Beep Beep Beep... something on the outer reaches of the radar, better investigate::: And off Aidan went towards the kitchen, banking right, around the island based oven/stove, and then straight into the laundry/utility room where, ::: Beep Beep Beep, Target Locked on ::: sat Mocha's food and water dishes. With sloth like reflexes I manouverd around the seemingly laser guided Aidan and picked up the food dishes before he was able to arrive. Clean up on isle 5 averted. No sooner had I placed the dog food dishes on the counter... ::: Beep Beep Beep... ::: Thunk! Damn! A sneak attack! The large cardboard box, formally holding Aidan's new booster car seat and currently staged to be broken down and hauled off to the recycle bin, had been pulled down and the corner of it was currently being subjected to large amounts of drool and the gnawing of tiny teeth. I think the run for the food dishes was just a cleaver ploy to divert my attention from the real target. At a young eight months Aidan is already outsmarting me - No real surprise there.

The rest of the Aidan/Dad bonding time was spent eating cheerios, chunks of banana and the ever popular formula - every once and a while I let Aidan have some too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Cheerios - Not just for old geezers cholesterol reduction any more - Which is good because I was getting tired of buying cheerios just for my own consumption.

In our first experience giving a cheerio to Aidan we experienced the less then desirable phenomenon of instant gag reflex followed immediately by the ever popular stomach content purging. Over the past two days Aidan seems to have developed a liking for the little tike finger food. Here an 'O' there an 'O' everywhere an 'O-O'. Adian is actually doing pretty well trying to feed himself the golden colored baby snack. Every once and a while he will actually get one into his mouth the first time, slobber it up for a while then have it dribble over his lower lip and on to his bib as he tries to put the next one in - looking slightly confused as the new cherrio is stuck to his hand and doesn't make it to his mouth.
But, he's a determined little guy and after a few more attempts in goes the whole grain oat gem of 14 essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, those that don't make it in Aidan's mouth and instead find the floor after a minor free-fall, are an instant snack for the Mocha, the smaller then a breadbox, fluffy haired pooch we're currently dog-sitting for.

So cheers to Cheerios - the tiny bits of wholesome goodness that provides minutes of entertainment and occasional nutritional value when one actually makes its way down Aidan's gullet.

Monday, September 27, 2004

All the news that snot fit for print
Well, this past few days have been a bit trying on Aidan's parents. Aidan came down with another cold which caused him to be cranky, irritable, restless and not able to sleep soundly. All this caused his parents to be cranky, irritable, restless and not able to sleep soundly - plus each of us seem to have now caught the cold that Aidan picked up from somewhere, probably Mocha the dog. Aidan wouldn't sleep, therefore I was up anywhere from 2 to 5 times a night trying to get him to go back to sleep. Didn't do much for my demeanor. I'm sure it's just part of what being a parent is all about and I should get used to it. Fifteen years from now I'm sure I'll get a phone call, "Mr. Stutz, please come down to the police station - we have your son here having been picked up for eating pizza in public, he was driving your car without a license... and he has a cold."

The worst thing about Aidan having a cold is all the dried snot clinging to his upper lip, his nose, his right cheek, his hands.. pretty much everywhere. He looks like he's just returned home from some 'Fear Factor' episode where the contestants were forced to eat some kind of slime covered something that I've never heard of or would want to. And you can't try and wipe his face clean as that only adds to his already bad mood - shaking his head almost violently from side to side as if channeling a bewildered Washington Huskey fan watching the Notre Dame foot ball game.

Furthering Aidan's poor mood this weekend was his latest discovery - climbing up on the oven door and grabbing on to the handle can cause the door to open downwards and 'bonk!' onto his head. Maybe it's time to read him 'Hansel and Gretel'.

Tooth Update: He now has four fully visible bottom teeth, and two visible top, middle teeth. This continual process of emerging teeth has done nothing to reduce the amount of drool expelled from Aidan. Drool everywhere. Drool here, Drool there, Drool on the carpet, Drool on the floor, Drool on every magazine in the house, Drool covering the remote control for the TV - apparently a very desirable teething item, at least according to Adian.

... This just in...
News flash... We interrupt this blogging... I've just been handed a news bulletin...

Baby Aidan is expecting a sibling in May

Yes, it's true. Aidan will be looking for a little brother or sister in May 2005. This of course means that I will never, ever be seeing a little, black Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet in my garage - not that I would have ever seen it there anyway, but at least it provides me yet another excuse for why it's not in the garage.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Rock-a-bye-baby... Boy, who wrote that song - let alone call it a lullaby? Let's see.. a baby is rocking on a tree branch (how the baby was able to crawl up there, with a cradle no less, I've no idea and that part was conveniently left out of the story), the wind comes up, the cradle rocks around until it falls crashing to the ground, ' and all' - and the story ends there. This is the 'lullaby' that people have been using to try and put their small child to sleep with? Who's bright idea was that? 'Sit back and relax junior while I attempt to lull you to sleep with a story of someone, much like your self, falling from some undetermined height after being blown off of a tree limb.' - ya, that shouldn't cause any nightmares, phobias or cost me the equivalent of a small island in the Caribbean for therapy in his teenage years.

Sleep Update: I don't remember the last night I was able to sleep through the entire night without our little bundle of joy waking up at some point during the night and needing some kind of attention. This morning, for example, I hear him whining about 3am, I get up and go into his room to find him standing up in his crib. Sure, upon noticing that I've entered the room he gets a big smile on his face... but I'm not falling for that old trick. A good 45 minutes and a half bottle of formula later he's restlessly back to sleep. Yippee.

Would it be considered poor parenting if I tied a bungee cord around Aidan's waist and tied the other end to the bottom of the stair banister? Here we looked so forward to Aidan being able to crawl and now I realize that this was a total mistake. The kid gets into everything! By the time I'm done picking up the paper bags he's strewn about the kitchen, he's move on to getting in to some onions kept in a pantry, has peeled the outside, dry layer off of one and is stuffing it into his mouth. Aaacckk! If he were bungeed he'd only make it so far before being pulled back to his starting position... problem solved. Ok, maybe not. I'm sure that would cause other issues, like an upset baby who was denied mobility. Back to the drawing board and putting on a new pair of tennis shoes so I can keep up with Mr. Mobile.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Just another day in paradise
There really isn't that much to report in the life of Aidan this time around. He has his two front, top teeth starting to come in. I'm sure Aidan is tired of having his over anxious father constantly sticking dirty fingers into his mouth to feel for the sharp edges of new teeth. Although it really does provide fun for then entire family on a slow television night.

Television. Aidan seems to like it, much to the dismay of his parents and even more so to his paternal grandmother. Honest, we try keep him from watching it unless we put in some learning video from Baby Einstein, but he will eventually discover when the TV is on and watch it until he gets bored and moves on to something else. Yes, I know it's a bad sign when your 8 month old son is crawling over to the Television set, standing himself up so that his nose is pressed against the glass, hands pressing flat against the screen on either side of his head- and the TV isn't even turned on. Although, when he does this after one of his Baby Einstein tapes is done, and the screen is full of that electric snow.... I just keep waiting for him to utter, "They're here...."

Aidan did have his first, and successful, visit to his Grandmother Stutz's house while the Mrs and I escaped for a rare movie and dinner outing - certainly much appreciated. She was all prepared for the pitter patter of feet, knees and gnawing teeth when we arrived - even breaking out my old crib/changing table for Master Aidan's comfort. Aidan seemed to have enjoyed himself and Grandmother wasn't panting from chasing him around so all seemed just fine upon our arrival back to pick up Aidan.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Just Like a Turkey
Yes, I faintly remember what a full nights sleep feels like - at least I think I do. It may just be a foggy, morphed memory twisted by the ghost of peaceful slumbers past. Good 'ol Aidan ('Mini-Me' to, well, me) still seems to insist on waking up in the middle of the night. We've determined that it seems to be due to his being hungry. Last night, for example, at 12:30a he once again woke up with his now customary crying wale at which I trudged out from under the warm, comfortable confines of our bed to shuffle down the hard, cold wood floor to his bedroom to find him already standing up in his crib hanging onto the vertical slats for balance - appearing as if he was already preparing himself for jail time. All he needed was a black and white striped sleeper and he would have been perfect to play 'Babyface' Malone in some upcoming mobster movie.

I quickly found my way to the kitchen to find him a bottle of formula, tossed it in the microwave for a few seconds, then made my way back to his room where, after downing the entire bottle, quickly went back to sleep. Total time, 15 minutes. A much preferred experience compared to the previous nights 1+hr experience where Mini-Me didn't seem to have any interest in going back to sleep and we once again, as we did in the very early days of his life, became comfortable on the couch and tuned in to see what fantastic, must have, can't live without items were being offered on late night television.

We're expecting the SoloflexGinsuLettuceChopperMiracleMop to arrive any day now - Only 30 easy payments of $19.95.

I put it on Jr's credit card.

After feeding Aidan his post midnight bottle and watching him slug it down like a future WSU Coug thinking it was the last beer on campus, I inserted the designated crib resident pacifier (you'll have to note my reluctance to call anything a 'binky' found in a previous posting) which Aidan immediately began making use of. He sucked and sucked and sucked... reminded me of this years Mariners... until he drifted off to sleep - at which point - POP! he spit the pacifier out and was sound asleep. Just like one of those thermometers that you find in turkeys these days that pop up when the turkey is done - the pacifier being spat out was Aidan's indication that he was done for the night, just like a turkey.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Rip Van Winkle Where are you?
It used to be so nice. Little Mini-Me had been sleeping through the night for so long that I began to take it for granted that was just what he did. Now, through blurry eyes and a grande latte, I am here to report that Jr seems to have suddenly decided he, and as a result his parents too, need to wake up between midnight and 1am. What's going on here? Where is that magic, sleep inducing pixi dust?

And the little bundle of joy doesn't just wake up once, he waits until just about 30 minutes after either of his parents have gotten him back to sleep and have themselves just started to drift off to slumberland - then wakes up again.

As I attempt to fight through the fog within my head, sipping what should have really been a double, grande latte (Tully's only of course - why should I support Starbucks who's ownership of the Seattle Sonics can't seem to make a positive roster move - that and I just don't like their coffee) ... as the sleep weary mind starts to drift..... ok, back again... I wonder if anyone would notice if I took a nap under my desk here at work?

Where was I.. oh, yes "As I attempt to fight through the fog ..." we've covered that part... It's time to recount the continuing development of young master Aidan...

His two additional new teeth are continuing to come in, followed by a flood of drool which would make even the most hurricane hardy Floridian sit up and take notice.

He is crawling all over the place in a rapid fashion. Standing himself up at every opportunity and is even starting to catch himself before actually falling down. He's able to crawl up an entire flight of stairs - much to the delight of Aidan but to the fear of his parents.

He continues to stuff anything he can into his mouth - shoes, keys, toys, my Sea magazines.... all of which are left with the tell tail sign of puddles of slobber and, in the case of my magazine, torn, wet, and missing pages.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

He just keeps going.. and going...
Baby on the go Aidan just keeps crawling around better and faster each day - moving from one area he shouldn't be in to the next non baby safe area of the house. How is it that someone who isn't yet a year old already knows all the places in the house he shouldn't be and knows when you're not looking in order to make a bee-line to those areas? Are all the toys and play things in the middle of the wide expanse of space called the floor not exciting enough? Is the fact that none of them have batteries or make annoying loud, obnoxious sounds cause for Jr. to go racing towards all the stereo cables on the far wall and immediately try and fit them all into his mouth? Is it really that much more interesting to crawl up into the center of the end table pushing what had previously existed in that pace off onto the floor? It must be.

Our future rock climber also seems to have been caught by his mother on the second step of the stair case - time to get those stair barriers and make the stairs look like East Berlin before the wall came down.

It's hard not to smile each time he does something he's not supposed to do - mostly because it's new and he doesn't know he's not to be pulling on wires or climbing on stairs - but he also looks so proud of himself for having accomplished the feat. He'll also crawl over to any fixed item, say a chair, couch, or human, and use them to grab onto and stand himself up. Once standing he's happy as anything to just stay that way for a while, seemingly pleased that he's standing like a big person.

NEWS FLASH... This just in... Two additional bottom teeth have been spotted on the outsides of the previously known middle two lower teeth. No further details at this time, however, as this is prime time and we are a news agency, we'll go ahead and speculate, make things up, come to what will later be shown to be completely inaccurate conclusions and provide opinions based on nothing more then the previously mentioned speculation on this fast breaking news story. (I should really write copy for the Fox News Network. )

Here's what we know at this time... Aidan Stutz, 7 month old son of Anya and Brad Stutz, smiled revealing the two additional protruding incisors. Film at eleven.

And that's the way the baby stumbles... thank you and good night.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Aidan On The Go
I've noticed that as Aidan continues to grow older the blog entries describing the milestone events in his life as recounted by his sieve minded father have become fewer and father between (probably because I've managed to stay out of 'Babies R Us'). As a result, having just taking another sip of my tall, nonfat, French vanilla latte in an attempt to stimulate the normally stagnate grey matter, I will attempt to recount some of Aidan's major events of the past week - or ten days - or however long it has been since the last entry.

Break out the radar gun - Aidan's on the go! This past weekend while on the boat in Poulsbo Aidan decided it was time to make a decisive move towards crawling. He would lift him self up on to his hands and knees, as he's done for quite some time, but then he would suddenly lift one arm up off the filthy blue carpet which covers the interior floor and put it back down just a little further out in front of him... then he'd try and do it again - lifting the same arm up off the floor and raising it above his head while semi twisting his body to see if anyone was noticing only to then fall over backwards. He gets that kind of intelligence from me. But only a few days later Aidan had figured out to lift one had up, put it back down and lift the alternate hand up and put it down - finding that it worked much better then trying to lift the same had up every time. I'm sure he gets that from his mother. Soon future Olympian track star Aidan was making his way across the floor, one uneasy movement at a time, up to the point where, today, he just crawls from point A to B fairly well. Sure, he still does the 'Army Crawl' when he wants to get someplace quickly (it helps that with one push off the hardwood floors and he's half way to his distination before he slides to a stop).

What's with all the whining? Monica Selles meet Aidan Stutz. Much like the over enthusiastic grunting Monica was known for during her tennis playing days Aidan seems to have adopted this kind of whining whenever he is putting forth effort or has some obstacle to overcome. Crawl, whine, crawl, whine... It's not that he is terribly upset about anything, he's just having to put forth effort and seems to be whining because of it - he gets that from me I'm sure. It's not really a cry or an all-out whine, it's more a tight-lipped, rounded cheek, squinty eyed loud half grunting half humming - much like an Olympic athlete who was busted for drugs or blood doping (feel free to pick your favorite out of the 20 or so who were escorted from the games this time around) Aidan seems to be complaining, but he doesn't seem to really be complaining about anything in particular. Picking him up seems to solve all problems and he will transform back into the smiling faced, happy baby again. It's just the noise which is annoying - or maybe I'm simply a new parent who is getting his just rewards after having done the same thing to my own parents. Nah, that couldn't be it.

High Five! Aidan has discovered he can get nearly his entire hand into his mouth. Yippie.

Run down to the rusted Ford Pinto three blocks down and cut in, I'll fake it to you. Ahh the ageless line from Mr. Cosby can only mean one thing football season has started. I've recently started taking Aidan for stroller rides up to the local High School to watch all those much younger then me, and with much better knees, hone their skills on the 'ole grid-iron. Aidan seems to enjoy watching all the kids run up and down the field as he crawls around pulling up grass up by the handfuls. He's also made a few friends along the way - younger brothers/sisters of those playing - and Aidan seems to enjoy being around others his same size.

No need for crampons Another one of Aidan's new accomlishments is to be able to climb up the side of something, say the couch and stand himself up. He is all excited when he gets himself all upright - until the point yesterday when he apparently fell over sideways and bonked his head on the floor.. although he seemed more upset by the shock of falling then actually being hurt - he must have a thick head - yet another trait I'm sure he's aquired from my side of the kiddie gene pool.

Monday, August 23, 2004

For those who haven't yet experienced shopping at Babies R Us let me begin by setting the scene - IT's A TRAP!

Babies R Us (BRU for those of us who are too lazy to type the entire name of the store) provides the new gaping mouthed, wide, horrified eyed parent with anything and everything one could ever imagine for the latest 'isn't he/she the cutest' recipient. From a grand assortment of formula bottles (each with it's own distinctive can't live without feature), passifiers in every shape and size (these are referred to as 'binkies' to some however I just can't bring myself to call something a 'binknie' and feel adult enough to run with scissors later), to strollers, playthings and furniture. Each 300% marked up item providing the casual baby shocked new parent with it's unique way of suggesting you would be a horrible parent and that your X month old is never going to get into a good college if you don't just back up a UHaul truck to the front door, hand over your wallet to the cashier and say 'filler up'.

Yes, I'm certain I've commented on BRU before however, having just again returned from escaping the evil diaper empire here are some serious thoughts.


Don't go if you don't have to.
If you have to go, Don't go without doing your research before buying larger items like high chairs, cribs, strollers and the like.

We, and when I say 'we' I mean my diligent wife Anya, did our research ahead of time on high chairs and 'booster' child car seats. We (again, Anya) looked at the Consumer Reports listings and talked to friends who had recently had an occasion to make such purchases and determined which manufacture/model of each we were after.

Oddly enough, when arriving at BRU (which, coincidentally, sounds like a fine, imported malted beverage required after escaping the store with your wallet only marginally dented) we found that quite a number of other gaping mouthed parents were also in need of such items as their little bundles of joy had out grown their current car seats and methods of being propped up while eating. We talked to a few of these couples who had done the same research, come to the same conclusion - the most expensive was the Consumer Reports selection of the month and which (I know this is hard to believe) was sold out at the moment! Oh No! What to do?! None of the parents (wisely) wanting to make a second trip back to this money pit of postnatal pampering were now franticly pouring over the multitude of alternate selections. In our case it was the new 20-40lb rear facing car seat - upping the tonnage to 100lbs when turned 180 degrees to be a front facing car seat so that the potential nighttime oncoming headlights dont' interfear with the latest Gameboy super-duper-mondo advanced hand held parental piece of mind entertainment gadget - either that or it has something to do with safety. It's pretty much a toss up.

Nothing that the car seat that we (again, Anya) had researched and targeted for a quick purchase was not in stock, we exchanged opinions and quick factoids with other parents about the alternate selections.

'Well this is the same as that, except for the leather option.'
'This one reclines easier that that one over there.'
'This one seems to be the same as that except for the color.'
'This one has a side cup holder where that one does not.'

For a moment I thought we were shopping for a car, not a car seat.

After some additional short conversations of car seats and some ooh-ahhing over the other couple's youngsters (difficult to do with a straight face when you know your child is much, much cuter then theirs is. I'm sure they had the same problem.) we made the decision to select the one with the optional cup holder and fake leather sides - the one recently referred to as 'snooty' by some other new mother. I'm sure she must have made her way to the Evil Diaper Empire by way of horse drawn carriage as she selected the same model without the optional cup holder - Geeze, where's the kid going to put his morning Tully's?

We packed up our selections threw as many Franklins at the less then pleasant cashier stormtrooper and made our escape.

I can't wait until Aidan needs new furniture.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Beep Beep - Baby X'ing
Oh, those were the days... days where young mini me would simply look up, slowly develop a big, full open mouthed, toothless smile and all parties involved would be content with that. Aidan would be happy that someone was looking at him, we'd be happy that he was smiling - life was good.

Now, just a few days past Aidan's 7 month milestone Aidan is a baby on the move. A baby on the move towards anything that he shouldn't be moving towards. No, he hasn't learned to crawl on all fours just yet, but he quickly propels his tiny body across the floor in such a manner that it would make any army sergeant proud. Aidan moves across the floor by working his forearms and elbows and one leg/foot. Leading himself with an outstretched elbow he'll recoil his leg and thus his foot up to his side and with one quick extension of the leg he's move forward about 8 inches.

Now you wouldn't think that moving 8 inches at a time would enable such a small person to move so quickly - but I assure you that in the time that I've increasingly large caboose off the couch, gone to refresh my beverage of choice and returned to the mothership Aidan has traversed the 15 feet across the light maple hardwoods and is trying to pull the leaves off a low plant only to, upon success, stuff the leaves into his mouth - everything goes into his mouth. Sure, I notice this, go pick him up, return him to a safe, no leaf zone only to blink and find Aidan hoisting himself onto the lower shelf of an end table or up on to the lower glass shelf of the TV stand, knocking over family pictures as he moves his way towards the multitude of spaghetti like wires in the back.

After removing the hardwood based Jacque Custou from his latest TV stand exploration it's immediately known that Aidan has learned to express his displeasure on cue. Immediately the face scrunches up into what should be featured on a bitter beer commercial, the downturned mouth slowly starts to open and out comes a very unhappy baby sound. However, just as easily as it seems to be turned on, as soon as Aidan finds something else to capture his attention, suddenly he's a happy child again. The most entertaining is when he's sure he should be upset about something but is happy at the same time.. this results in a mouth slightly upturned at the corners, eyes still upset and squinty, but a semi giggle, semi cry is emitted from the the confused face. Well, at least I find it entertaining.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Sea-going Aidan

It was a dark and stormy night... well, not quite. It has been a while since the last posting as the Stutz family departed on what Aidan determined was a much needed vacation. We packed up all of our gear and headed to the San Juan Islands to hop around a bit. Aidan did pretty darn well throughout the entire trip. Now, one would think that with an entire week's worth of vacation time with yacht master Aidan there would be many tales to regail around a pint at the local pub - however the entire week went fairly smoothly with only a couple of notable events:

New Teeth
During our fun in the sun Aidan finally poked his first two bottom teeth through! Let me tell you, those puppies are sharp. It used to be fun to lift Aidan up and, with his gaping mouth open, he would attach himself to my nose - well, not any longer! The two tiny tooth tops may be small but they've got grip! Aidan doesn't seem to mind the new teeth and has actually started to figure out how to use them to grab onto his rubber baby spoon making it difficult to pull it out of his mouth after a nice spoonful of cold, blended carrots (given the horrible facial expression following a spoonful of blended peas I think we'll be waiting to try those again).

Aidan visited three different swimming pools while on vacation. He seemed to take to the water pretty easily in his baby float toy (see previous posting about Lake Washington) and putting up with being lathered up in a thick application of SPF 4000 baby sun block. Aidan would float and kick his way around the kiddy pool attired in his little blue baby swim suit and blue foreign legion looking hat to protect his fair skinned, blond haired head.

While Aidan was kicking and walking around one kiddy pool, with myself and mother Stutz only a few short feet away, Aidan decided to see just how far forward he could stretch himself - and he did quite well - stretching himself clear over the front of the yellow, doughnut shaped, baby float toy and head first into the ever so slightly yellow tinged kiddly pool water. It really went in slow motion as I watched from a little more then an arms lengh away. ... he's stretching... he's stretching... he seems a little top heavy... and with a small arm flail, a splash and a pool toy upending - into the water he went. I, with my sloth like reflexes, flashed into action, quickly covering the thirty six inch ocean of pool water, scooping up the now submerged Aidan and bringing him back up above the surface of the water where he gave a small cough and then a big toothless (well, now semi toothless) smile. Disaster averted. The overall end result was that Aidan doesn't seem to mind the water. Good thing.

The rest of the vacation was fairly uneventful. Aidan crawled around the boat, was carried around to look at different flowers, different points of interest such as English Camp at Garrison Bay, different boats (I think Aidan is wanting a bigger boat, but that's just a guess) and he was able to spend time with my aunt, uncle, cousins and their kids who were also all on the trip in their own boats.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Wanted: A Full Time Village
This past weekend we attended a boat cruise with our Sea Ray Cruising Club at Port Orchard. Everyone seemed to want to take Aidan - which was certainly a welcome invitation to unload mini-me and allow someone else to entertain him for a while. Now, to be honest, Anya does 90% of the entertaining and for my 10% I'll play with him until my arms get tired then put him down to crawl around and play with his stuffed animals. Regardless of this fact, I'm still happy when someone comes up and offers to do 90% of my 10% and so it was this past weekend.

Many a club member offered to take Aidan and entertain him for a bit. Whoever came up with this 'It takes a village...' but was on to something. Aidan enjoyed being carried around by different people, getting a change of scenery while his parents are able to socialize without having to constitute watch after Aidan at the same time. What a deal! Aidan was able to visit other people, crawl around on other boats, drool on any number of rugs, feet, and upholstery up and down the dock. What a great educational and brain stimulating experience. When Aidan was returned to us he had obviously been on a boat with dogs given the amount of dog hair collected on his shirt and had apparently kicked one kind club member in the mouth and given her a slightly bloody lip. Well, at least we know his legs work and are getting stronger.

A number of club members commented on what a good baby Aidan is and I would have to agree. This particular weekend Aidan was a great baby. Rarely fussing, only crying at inopportune times as we went through the locks but never on the docs during the weekend. By this time next year he'll probably be driving the boat to the next village gathering.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Bee's Knees
Just when you thought it was safe to back in the water... Last Tuesday I convinced my fine bride that we should go down to the boat, and, having nothing else better to do, we packed up the family, hitched up the horses to the wagon and headed south to the marina.

Upon arrival, we all climbed aboard and A2 (Anya and Aidan) headed below decks to occupy their time while I pretended to clean the boat up a bit. Some time passed and from the depths below I heard the tell tail audible indicator, '..Brad....' and I knew it was time to leave. I ventured down below to see what was going on and here was Aidan up on his hands and knees, rocking back and forth! Not going anywhere but just supporting himself on all fours. Yet another milestone in the life of Master Aidan. He still hasn't quite figured out that he can move himself using all four of those ground contacts, but he's one step closer.

It may have just been Aidan's way of telling us we need a newer/bigger boat. Or not.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Hot Fun In The Summer Sun
Generally I have tried to relate specific events which appear to me, in my young life as a father, to be notable; something which transpired while trying figure out what this whole fatherhood thing is about or provided clues as to the answer.

Since my last posting I must report that I have nothing to report. No Aidan firsts, no Aidan blunders, no Aidan mishaps no father noeable fathering mistakes (that I'm aware of) or anything that is going to promote future lengthy and thus costly sessions with a thearopist - for either Aidan or myself. Although he does currently have a cold. There, that's it. That's all there is to report. I'll refrain from providing descriptions of baby sniffles and snot - this time.

Aidan really hasn not done much but continue to grow. Which prompted some thought (generally speaking any thought on my part usually requires some prompting). The simple fact that Aidan does just continue to grow is eventful in itself.

Over this past weekend I went back through some of the older pictures of young master Aidan and realized that, as many of you experienced parents can easily attest, babies grow. They grow right in front of you, bit by bit, day by day, but you don't really notice until you compare them to themselves as they were a month or two ago. It then occured to me that this daily groth is a noteable event in itself.

A month or so ago Aidan only able to lie on his back and act like a turtle - frantically flopping his arms and legs around in some random manner just because he could or had nothing else better to do. Today you can't keep the kid in one spot. You put Aidan on his back, on the floor and he's already half rolled over by the time you take your hands away. A few minutes later he's ten feet away from the original spot reaching out for something he's worked so hard to move towards. Another example of this growth came as we recently took his 6th month baby footprint. Anya had it framed and put it up next to his newborn footprint and I was amazed by how much larger the newer, green inked, slighly smugged foot print is as compaired to the first, equeally as smugged but smaller print. He's growing up.

I also noticed this weekend ,as we were walking around the front of our house, a few months ago when I'd carry him around he would simply stare into the void which is my head. Now his head whips his head around from side to side as if he's afraid he's going to miss something new to look at, miss some new experience, miss the chance to whip his little head around and catch his fathers nose with it - he thinks that's so funny. I think he does it on purpose.

Aidan did have a new experience this weekend which was that of being introduced to Lake Washington. Aidan had the opportunity to become one with the water. Well, one with a baby floating doughnut type contraption that one of this grandmothers had provided. This contraption can only be described as a doughnut within a doughnut where the inner doughnut held a set of cross straps where the soon to be water conquering Aidan was to place his feet through and provide support while he floated around. Aidan was a natural and soon didn't even seem to notice that he was floating around in his little baby doughnut until he became a little chilled and expressed his desire to be removed back to the mainland.

After being placed on a towel on the grass where he promptly fell asleep in his customary spread eagle position his less then grown up father immediately placed a pair of sunglasses on him, stuck a peanut in his belly button and bookended him with a couple of empty beer bottles... pictures to be posted shortly and to be made readily available for his date prior to departure for their first formal.

Another new experience, more growing up (for Aidan, obviously not the father).

Monday, July 19, 2004

Where's the return address for this kid?

Infants, I've discovered, seem to have bad days. Sure, young Master Aidan/mini-me, has had times where he's been less then happy and expressing himself through a frustrated cry here or there and, this being normal I've come to just accept it. Last Sunday was a little different.

Anya was committed to attending a shower of some sort; baby, bridal, ivory - who knows what kind it was, I'm not really sure there's much difference between them anyway, other then the ivory as it is 99.44% pure according to all the marketing materials. As a result, I was left in charge of watching Aidan... And watch him I did. I watched him cry, I watched him scream, I watched him bellow, I watched him sniffle, whimper and cry some more. And I'm not talking about just the normal 'I'm bored with this toy and want another' cry, this was more of a 'Someone gored me like a luau pig and I want you know I'm holding you responsible for it' cry. The full on, closed, watery eye, mouth can't be opened any wider, cheeks red as cherry tomatoes, full lung use type of crying.

There was just no stopping it. Food didn't help. A pacifier (ironic name in this instance) only seemed to make matters worse. Changing positions - front to back, back to front, laying down to standing up, being held horizontaly, being held vertically, being held upside down (while i found it funny) didn't help. Chaining a diaper that was hardly used didn't help. Nothing seemed to appease the poor kid.

Figuring he must be broken I immediately started looking for the return address and a receipt. Strangely enough, he didn't seem to have been delivered with either. New humans should have some kind of warranty provided by Babies R Us... They charge enough for everything you can't live, or, more accurately stated, your baby can't live without - they should provide some kind of kid return process when all the items purchased from their store don't seem to help stem the raging river of tears and torrential onslaught of yelling, searching noise coming out of Aidan's tiny body. Oddly enough, they only accept return with receipt, which, of course, I didn't have. I have a sneaking suspicion Anya has hidden or filed the receipt for Aidan, knowing such a day of torment was inevitable.

A break in hurricane Aidan was provided only after Aidan had worn himself out from crying so much that he need a nap. Which he took. On the floor. On his face. Apparently the most comfortable position he could find.

Whew! An entire 15 minutes of silence. Yes, 15 minutes. Then it was back at it for Aidan - more loud crying, more trying to feed him, pacify him, adjust him, change him... All to no avail.

At last I decided there was only one thing to do.... Go to the boat. Why should I be so selfish as to horde all this parental bliss for myself? Others would surely wish to experience and bask in the glow of all that was Aidan this fine day. I packed up the diaper bag, poured a new bottle of formula to take with us, packed up our sobbing, red faced, tearing child and off we went. Once arriving at the boat and unloading Aidan all was well with the world. He even took a nap. A real nap.. Not the previous kind of nap where he's only pretending to nap so as to lull you in to thinking you are actually going to get reprise from the ongoing wailing only to whisk it away after you've gotten comfortable on the couch and select some random program on TV.

This break/nap was encouraging. It was nice. It was healing. It was short lived. While it did last around 40 minutes, it seemed to have only provided Aidan with a fresh set of lungs and allowed his tear ducts to refill themselves... Then we were at it again. So we packed up the diaper bag, packed up Aidan and headed home. Anya was there when we arrived home.

Oddly enough, the crying stopped.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

For those interested, a new album of Aidan photos has been posted. You can find it here:

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Here A Stain... There A Stain

It wasn't that long ago that I can remember having clothes without stains on them. Oh, sure, occasionally I do something stupid like work on my car while wearing my work clothes and get something on them - but for the most part I work in jeans and t-shirts - a polo shirt if I have to look nice for a meeting, so getting something on my work clothes wasn't an every day event.

Recently I find that I'll go to put on a pair of pants - more khaki then jeans these days... get them on, agonize over which belt ( a huge decision, either brown or black) to go with the pants, pick out a shirt to go with the pants and belt, get everything on - to discover that the pants are stained with baby spit-up that didn't quite come out - but hey, that's ok, because it matches the stain on my shirt which also didn't quite come out and may have very well been the result of the same half digested, milk based formula, spewing without warning event.

Sure, the first couple of times when Aidan was only a few weeks old, spit-up was cute - it was kind of like interacting with mini-me on some level. I feed him some food, he smiles, burps, then spits it back out at me. If it weren't for the cute interface, the data in, data out might have been a little disgusting, but seeing that little newborn face smiling back made it all worth while. Well that was five months ago - now it's just yuckie (yes, that's a technical term, I've looked it up in "Nipple Confusion, Uncoordinated Pooping and Spittle: The life of a Newborn's Father"; Roger Friedman, I'm sure you can find it on FindAnyThingForSaleIncludingThingsYouWouldNotEverNeed dot Com.).

So here we are, Father and mini-me, each testing the other's will. Which will flinch first? Will I grab a drip cloth before Aidan spits up? Will Aidan do his best to spit up as quickly as possible so as to not allow me grab said drip cloth?

I'm going to need to go shopping for new pants.

It's a good thing he's cute and didn't come with a gift receipt or return address.

Monday, July 12, 2004

6 Months
Somehow Aidan has survived to be the ripe old age of 6 months last Saturday. To commemorate this notable milestone we packed up around 30 drip cloths, along with the Drool King of the Eastside and headed to the local J.C. Penny photography studio. For those who have yet to experience the department store based studio for a few quick pica - it is entertaining.

Upon arrival we were blessed to witness the rantings of some mother who couldn't believe that the poor, trying only to do her job JCP employee wouldn't give her some coupon package price when she DIDN'T HAVE THE COUPON! After what seemed like hours of bickering (an excellent example for the young'ns in attendance by the way), a visit by some ineffective manager, who didn't contribute any assistance or support for the employee and simply stood there, arrived as if the simple presence of his hulking 5'3" frame was speaking volumes and the participants should recognize the power held by the position of 'Manager: JCP Photo Studio' and wrap up the difference of opinion. I know I was in awe. The employee and mother were apparently just as in awe of the manager's presence as I and, ignoring the manager, continued their argument.

Now, let me take a break from this exciting tale to explain that these picture packages range from all of $3.50 to some $7 a sheet of pictures. The two women probably burned up more money in slimfast breakfast bar calories then the picture sheets were arguing over were worth; Not to mention the months of therapy that the poor womans daughter, subjected to this less then polite debate, is going to have to endure in her later teen years as she tries to discover why she can't find a date for the prom and has no friends.

Eventually, if for no other reason then to move on to her other customers (us) the employee finally agreed to allow the woman to bring in the coupon on the following Monday and the package price would be adjusted. Whew! I turned towards Anya with a look of pure fear and hesitancy to which she replied; 'I have the coupon.' I could breath easy again.

Once actually getting into the photo studio room there was a whirlwind of poses, costume and backdrop changes and camera flashes. Our JCP employee was very good at her job - moving from one pose and picture to the next with great efficiency. Once all the shots were taken the arduous task of selecting the pictures to be printed, and which package to be applied began. I stepped up and recognized what I needed to do - I left it up to Anya while I took Aidan wandering around the rest of the store. Sure, I occasionally returned to the computer where Anya was toiling over not only which pictures to select, but whether to have them in color, black and white, or sepia, but only to provide the occasional opinion, 'yup, that's great. Good choice.' then make a quick exit back to the rest of the store. There's nothing more helpful then a quick comment and exit. Anya may not agree.

Aidan did a very good job with his pictures; Smiling on queue, not being fussy and seemingly enjoying the entire experience Aidan was a natural in front of the camera. We'll see if that turns into an actual job where he can start supporting himself. It's never too soon to learn good work values - and contribute to the family's boat fuel fund.