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.