Thursday, September 08, 2005

Conjunction Junction, What's your function?
The afternoon was giving way to the twilight of early evening. The 30th anniversary edition of the School House Rock DVD played in the background, subconsciously educating the two small children half paying attention to the video as it played on. I sat next to my desk browsing the latest news stories via the wonder that is the Internet when there was a sudden thud behind me causing me to pause and instantly turn around to see what the cause was.

It's what I do. My name is Brad. I'm a dad.

Fortunately it was only a 1.5 year old (going on 15) toddler/adult wanna be, pulling yet another book off the imitation maple laminate bookshelf towering 4 feet above his blond head and letting it crash to the floor before starting to reach for another.

'Aidan,' I spoke towards the blond, oompa loompa sized, on his way to being known as 'Aidan, formally known as Son' figure that stood before me providing a head down, 'I know what I did but I'm going to do it again' look.

'Please do not pull books or anything else off the shelves' I continued. Aidan gazed back at me, smiled, nodded, and then reached for another oversized, coffee table book as I bounded out of my desk chair and took firm hold of his arm, again explaining that books are to remain on the book shelf.

I quickly reached behind me and grabbed my, as would be stated on 'Blue's Clues' my handy, dandy (guide to being a parent) notebook for consultation.

Use calm, firm voice. Check.
Move down to Childs level so as to not intimidate by size. Check
Explain clearly the desired actions. Check.

I read over the list again and validated my suspicions.. there was no listing for 'expect child to completely ignore you and do the undesired action immediately after being told not to'. Must have been a omission at time of print.

I carefully explained to the now semi-frustrated for not being allowed to pull all books off the bookshelf Aidan that he was not to pull the books down and reminded him that, in the immortal words of Bill Cosby, I helped bring him into this world, I can certainly help him out, and that he might consider putting the books pulled down and now littering the floor below back on the book shelf, he might remain a member of the family.

The books were quickly replaced to their original positions.

Followed immediately by a series of Disney video tape cases being removed from another shelf, opened and tapes being pulled out, dropped and scattered around the floor at Aidan's feet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's fairly amazing that young Mini-Me moves as fast as he does. Watching him decide that he wanted to be chased and head down the hallway at a full toddler sprint; arms a flailing, legs seemingly detached from the hips, feet thudding down on the floor with each step; I wondered how Aidan actually moves so quickly when all the functioning body parts don't really seem to be in concert with each other. What keeps him from continually falling on his face? How is it that one so seemingly uncoordinated is able to move so fast (and with such apparent glee)?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Summer Vacation
This years summer boating vacation started off with a bang – three out of four family members having colds, the water conditions being horrible for crossing the straight and dense fog – Aidan didn’t seem to care, he seemed to be treating it as if the entire ordeal was one long theme park ride, walking/bouncing around down below, climbing up on the main stateroom bed and flopping around on the pillows for each plunging nose dive the boat took as it lurched from one five foot wave to the next. He thought it was all great fun. Ella, well she slept through all the excitement.

Over all, the vacation was a success. Nobody was inured, Aidan’s parents didn’t throw the other overboard, and Aidan came back with a ‘Tiva Tan’ showing that he did spend a fair amount of time out in the sunshine walking around the docs in his little toddler Tiva’s.

Poor little Aidan though, he so badly wanted to play with all the older kids on the docks – all running around with their shrimp nets, catching a variety of sea creatures that dared to venture too close to the dock. Aidan, wearing his water skiing type life jacket, with I attached to the ‘handle’ strap behind the neck, would move as quickly as possible trying to keep up with the other kids – with I continually hunched over, keeping hold of the life jacket strap trying to keep up with Aidan. One of our fellow boaters was kind enough to donate a toddler sized shrimp net which floated when dropped – and it was dropped a lot so this feature was certainly well used. Aidan thought it great fun to dip the net into the water, play with it for a while, drop it in the water, then look at me and say ‘help’…. After about the 15th time, I finally caught on.

Aidan also visited a number of pools available to marina guests. Hopefully Aidan learns soon that he can not breath under water and that, as he can’t swim yet, walking to deeper water is not a good idea. Aidan didn’t seem to mind swallowing half the pool water as he soon found that he could navigate around the edge of the pool, hanging on to the poolside and seemed irritated each time I attempted to assist him when he was looking like he was starting to lose his grip on the side of the pool – apparently he was well in control of the situation and I was only getting in the way. I guess I should start to get used to that.

Aidan is picking up words left and right these days, I’ve lost count as to how many he actually seems to have a near command and understanding of. He’s added Car, Airplane, Notebook, Ear, Nose, Eye, Shirt, Pants, Boat, Fish, Net, Juice, Ta (Australian used for ‘thank you’ and Thank You kept coming out as Ga-Ga and didn’t seem to have any chance of migrating to the more understood pronunciation. However, after chatting with an Australian staff member at Roche Harbor, Aidan picked up on ‘Ta’ immediately.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Twas the night before, well, the next morning...
... and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except for Aidan.

I'm not sure what the deal is, Aidan continues to wake up at least once in the middle of the night, generally around 1:30am these days. He'll wake up, take his Aidan sized, white blanket with satin trim and exit his room, turning to shut the door behind him, and toddle down to his sleepless parents room. He's not really awake, but not really asleep either. It doesn't normally take much more then picking him up, carting him back to his room and placing him back on his bed and he's nearly fast asleep. The key word being 'nearly'. He will lay there, not moving, breathing as if he's asleep, but the minute I try to exit the room, WHAM! there it is, the half hearted effort at a whine - the indication that he's not asleep, and I'm not going to be able to leave until he is. Yippie.

This morning was a slight turn on the normal routine however. Aidan, in his setting out on his nightly excursion, didn't quite get his feet on the floor as gracefully as is his norm. Ma in her 'kerchief heard the thud milliseconds before I in my cap leapt up before I had actually woken up - landing nearly flat on the floor myself while the 'I've fallen and I can't get up' cry continued to emanate from Master Aidan's end of the hallway. Still half asleep, my hands and feet seemingly emulating that of the Roadrunner cartoon character, spinning round and round until I was actually upright and moving forward towards the cry - my progress only momentarily interrupted as I became one with our partially closed bedroom door.

Recovering, opening the partially ajar door the full extent, I continued down the hallway like a bumpercar with a drunken teenager behind the wheel, bouncing off one wall, then the opposite railing until I arrived at Aidan's room where, it being too dark to see and not wanting to turn on the light, I resumed my previously unintentional position on all fours and made my way towards the tired cries of one who had fallen out of bed. There was Aidan, sprawled out on the floor, face first and none too happy about it.

I picked him up, sort of, however in my still not quite fully awake state and it being dark, I managed to mishandle my young offspring and he returned the few inches to the floor with a minor thud. That certainly didn't seem to help the situation.

I did recover, and was able to successfully get Aidan off the floor, console him until he stopped crying, get him back into his bed, wait for the tell tail sign of constant breathing and begin heading out of the room. Then there it was. The floor creaked as I walked over it, followed immediately by the well known, half asleep whimper from the bed. At least by this time I was fully awake. Lucky me.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

New Shoes, Part Deux.

As Aidan has continues to grow, his feet have certainly kept up making his first pair of $50 shoes too small. This, of course, meant that his ever grateful for the parenting experience father was about to shell out yet another huge sum for stitched material, which, if laid out, wouldn’t cover a squirrel. Off to our favorite, you’ll be a bad parent if you don’t shop here for your children’s shoes, store sporting the ‘Nordy’ mascot in search of a new pair of tennis shoes. I had done my homework and found that the main thing to look for this go round was flexibility in the shoe. Armed with this knowledge off Mini-Me and I went.

Entering the shoe land of wee, the two of us were immediately approached by a sales girl/lady/woman all of 19 years old who must be participating in the summer employment program. She asked what we were looking for and I explained that we were in need of new shoes and, using the only card I had, explained that they must provide great flexibility. She said they all had good flexibility. So much for my homework. Next on the list was what kind of securing mechanism the shoes should have. I immediately expressed that the shoes should have no Velcro – as Aidan had already figured out this easy method of securing his Tivas to his feet and how to immediately take them off. So regular old laces were the shoe type of choice for me and my young son. It amazed me that of the what appeared to be 500 different types of shoes available, my proclamation of the laces only criteria seemed to limit our choices down to only four pairs.

After exercising my extensive knowledge of children’s shoes by testing the flexibility of each, I decided on a pair which was dark blue in color – so as not to show so much dirt (a brilliant move on my part I thought) and off our little 19 year old pixie sales girl went to the back room to get the shoes in the appropriate size.

Upon returning with three boxes of shoes under her arm, she explained that the pair we had selected were no longer available in the size needed, so we were back to step 1, selecting a shoe from our list of now only three options. One an ugly brown and two white. We went with one of the white pairs, produced by Strideright. A company, I’m told, that only makes children’s shoes - so how could that be a bad choice? Much to my shock and pleasant surprise, these new, larger shoes where less expensive then the first pair! It must have been a pricing mistake! That couldn’t actually be the case – more material for less cost?! Be still my foolish, early stages of parent hood, wallet! We wrapped up our transaction and stayed under the $40/pair mark – still outrageous for such a small set of shoes but, if this trend continues, his first pair of school shoes should be nearly free.

Aidan and I left with Aidan wearing his new shoes, his old ones in the box and a olive green Nordstrom Shoes balloon. So far he seems to like them and, after getting used to the slightly longer length causing some initial trip-ups, seems to be adjusting well and hasn’t lost any of his blazing, I’m going to run down the mall corridor and see if you can catch me speed.

We’re now in the 17th month ...
...and it has been a while since the last Aidan blog entry. It must be about time for a new one. The problem is, as I’ve noted before, there just are not that many ‘new’ things going on in the life of Aidan. He’s just growing up – he hasn’t found a job yet, probably due to those silly child labor laws (no wonder Kathy Lee had to tap the off-shore labor pool) – but growing up none the less.

Aidan has taken a keen interest water. Not that he hadn’t shown a liking for it in terms of his nightly bath, but the entire family took a trip down to the Kirkland shores of Lake Washington on a recent sunny, warm afternoon and young tadpole Aidan spent nearly an hour just playing in the water. Not really figuring that Aidan would really go in any deeper then the cuffs of his rolled up over his knees pant legs we didn’t bring any shorts or change of clothes with us – big mistake. Within the first 10 minutes, Aidan had already wanted to wander further out into the deeper water, sat down in the water, tripped and caught himself, face first, on the sandy shore’s water line. He was very wet and his no longer ready for prime time diaper had sucked up about half of the lakes available water causing it to bulge to the point of looking like it’s seems would split and causing his pants to continually be forced in to something akin to that sported by many plumbers.

Aidan enjoyed the water, dragging his old dad further out into the lake until my shorts were starting to get wet and, as much as Aidan would stretch further out, he was restrained by my tight grasp on his hand and wrist. Then we discovered ducks.

Ducks, of course, were even further out into the water and Aidan wanted to get an up close and personal introduction which, of course, he could not as no-fun dad didn’t want to get any wetter then I already was. After Aidan expressed his displeasure at my decision we proceeded to chase the ducks which had come in a bit closer to shore. Aidan never did catch one.

When it was time to return home, Aidan loudly expressed his displeasure at being removed from the water – and continued to express this opinion all the way back to the truck where he was stripped down and placed, naked (again we had no alternate set of clothes for him) in his car seat, sitting on his t-shirt (which I had removed so as to not have it totally drenched). Aidan continued his discourse of displeasure all the way home. What a delight.

This month’s word usage:
Water, Please (thank you seems to come out Ga-Ga for some reason, but he is at least consistant in using it), Cracker, Teva, Shoes, Pants, Up, Down, Ball, Doggie, Daddy (replacing Da-Da), Pappa, Tree, Bush, Teeth, Eye, Car, Go, Ella, Momma, No, Hot, Light, Pee-Pee, Bath, and, of course, Barney.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cheese with that whine?
As we humans have apparently been able to map the genetic code which makes up our species, you would think the next logical step would be to alter the whine gene - that which suddenly kicks in to high gear at about the 15 month mark of life. Aidan has discovered this gene exists, has harnessed it, trained it and put it to work with the tenacity of one having made the move to the dark side of the Force. He's like the official toddler version of Sybil; All bitter beer faced and teary eyed one second, a happy, laughing, everything is right with the world just a few milliseconds later. It's really an amazing transformation to watch, but if you blink you'll miss it.

Sure he's learning more each day, expanding his vocabulary past the word 'No' to include Paul, Water, Ella, baby, mo (which can be 'moore' or 'milk', sometimes both at the same time), down and Barney - but it's all overshadowed by the constant whining over anything not to his exacting standards. Here a whine, there a whine, everywhere a whine, whine.

Then there is the return of the 'I'm not sure if I'm happy or upset, so I'm going to use the happiwine' that which comes across as a confused attempt at either being happy or wanting to complain that your father won't let you run with scissors through a field of broken glass; or was it that he wouldn't let you mangle the dog in an attempt to play with something your own size... it's so difficult to choose, or tell the difference.

Wait until he's discovered that his father accidently deleted all the pictures that went with his blog - then I'm sure there will be some real whining.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Eww, Girl Germs ...
Aidan's been quite receptive of his new little sister Ella since she arrived on his doorstep, left, of course by a large white stork with a little blue hat resembling that of the Maytag repair man. At least that's the story I'm sticking to for now. Aidan, being the kind, gentle, loving brother he is has already learned to kiss his new younger sibling. He will come up to her as she's being held by anyone, lean over, pucker his lips up and get just close enough to her to make a smacking, 'Mmmmma' like noise. I can't blame him for not making any real contact; at his age I'm sure I didn't want to get cooties either.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Here a stone, There a stone, everywhere a milestone.

I’ve found that the life changing (or should that be transforming) events that seemed to come on a near daily basis in the first few months of Aidan’s life, are more difficult to come by these days. Sure, they still exist, but in the form of minor modifications rather then the ‘one giant leap for baby kind’ type. Back in the day, it was cute and funny when Aidan would sneeze – now it is just annoying when, as I am holding him, he does it right in my face (I am sure it is on purpose, but I cannot yet prove it).

Before, Aidan’s first steps were a monumental occasion! Currently there is no stopping him. The only real change in this area is speed. Each week Aidan seems to gain more coordination allowing him to first run, and then run increasingly faster. Sure, his arms and hands are still flailing away at his side, which is fun to watch, but he’s too young to understand if I teased him about it. That will have to wait for next year. On the upside – he’s still wearing his $50 ‘let’s gouge the new parents for as much as we can on baby’s first solid footwear’ shoes. But lest I forget, the $50 did include a ‘free’ Nordy and a Polaroid – worth the Grant I’m sure.

Aidan did have his first haircut this past weekend, which is itself a milestone. He is now no longer looking like the love child being raised by a hippy commune, but more like a well-groomed little boy. He sat in the barber chair with his mother, not making a discontented sound the entire time. What a fine, cooperative little hippy commune looking 15 month old he was. And there I was, the ‘I can’t believe he’s doing that – he must be a new father’ guy, capturing the entire event on video – not missing a snip of the scissors or a falling lock of hair (much of which was saved, sealed in an envelop for prosperity – maybe I’ll have some of it bronzed).

Aidan also has his second wave of teeth coming in, six, possibly eight (depending on viewing angle and available lighting) more poking through. Just what he needs for those unannounced, sneak attack, ‘I’m going to spin around and bite daddy’s face for fun’ moments.

Other mini milestones of note:
• Moving from ‘onesies’ outfits to mini polo shirts and pants
• Adding Teva’s to his footwear arsenal
• Eating more real ‘people’ food, less Gerber.
• Sucking liquid through a straw
• Adding more words to his vocabulary
• Actual understanding when his parents talk to him and taking direction such as (go get your hat)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

In the immortal words of Golden Earring…

It’s 3am.... actually, to be more accurate it’s 3:30am that has me so puzzled. What is it about 3:30am? Nearly every night for a week our most recent household addition has been waking up and crying like I just told him that, after watching ‘Supersize Me’, we’re never going to McDonalds again. And it’s always at 3:30am. To be fair, Aidan did start out at 3am, but has progressed to the point where it’s between 3:25a and 3:30a every night. What is it about that time of the morning that awakens the sleeping giant? I’d like to know.

Is he worrying about his college education fund? No point in worrying about that, he’d be better off worrying about how he’s going to get a scholarship as, by the time he’s old enough to go to college, I’ll have long since spent his college fund on fuel for summer boating trips.

Is he suddenly distraught with the earlier then anticipated ousting of the NCAA tourney by the number 1 seeded Washington Huskies? Well, unless he gets that scholarship, no need to worry about a school he’ll be looking at from the outside in.

Maybe he’s concerned about his reputation at the local Mall play land as his hair is looking like a mop and his mother doesn’t want to cut it quite yet.

Maybe he startles himself awake trying to figure out why his parents force him to sleep in what ammounts to a giant sock with a zipper up the front.

I'm not sure why Aidan wakes up at this less then desireable hour but I’m determined to get to the bottom of this issue… which could be the issue itself. His diaper is generally awfully full at this time of the morning. Maybe we should be feeding him more steak and fewer martinis at dinner time.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Milestone: An important event or turning point.

Aidan’s has experienced a number of milestones since the last January blog entry. He now walks with ease, even over uneven terrain – although he does have the occasional trip up which places him face down in the grass or dirt, but for the most part he’s lifting his feet up, navigating obstacles and is generally ready to start training for the Olympics. This mile stone was reached one evening, just matter of factly. Sure Aidan had been taking steps for nearly a month and a half before this time, but Aidan apparently decided that it was time to just become an upright human. He stood himself up, steadied himself, then followed me around the kitchen island and back to the front room again. From that point on there has been no turning back. It was so fun to watch for the first week or so as he would walk around, sometimes less steady then others, watching him recover from a near loss of balance, walking around with his hands up in the air like a circus performer on the high wire. He didn’t quite make it to the fully walking point before his first birthday like I was hoping he would, but hey, I’ll take a week or so after his birthday, that’s close enough for this proud parent. And he’s making use of the $50 shoes before he out grew them – that’s something of a relief.

Aye, Carumba!

We’ve also discovered that Aidan has a liking for Mexican food. We’ll go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant and I’ll order my usual combination plate number 24. I’m not really sure why I order the combination plate each time – it comes with refried beans and rice, neither of which I’m a big fan of, but it’s easier to say ‘I’ll take a number 24 with beef’ then it is to explain to the waiter that what I really want is two tacos and an enchilada. However, Aidan apparently likes the refried beans and will eat nearly the entire portion which is brought along with my #24 platter. He can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. He’ll crane his neck and head forward while sitting I his restaurant provided high chair, mouth gaping open with his lips doing that cute, protruding outward, baby bird like thing that they do wanting yet another bite of the brown, mushy protein goo. Yum yum. As a side note, he also seems to like the taste of margarita found on the straw I’ll give him out of my glass. Yup, that’s my boy!


Another milestone, or maybe not a milestone but a work in progress which has made progress in the past couple of months is that of communication. I always used to wonder how these new parents all around me knew what their infant son or daughter was saying when some incomprehensible utterance came pouring out of their tiny lungs. Now I know. They make an assumption based on situation. For example, Aidan will use the sound ‘Daa’ to either mean Dad, Dog or Down. You really can’t tell the difference, if there is one, between the three, it all depends on if there is a dog near by, if I’m the only one in the room and Aidan is already on the floor, or if I’m carrying him and he’s simply tired of my mindless dribble and wants down. He his however developing a nearly understandable series of words: (na-naa) Banana, Momma, Da-Da (again could be dog, depends on who’s closer), Maa (More/Milk - again depends on the situation), Craa (Cracker) and of course the one word that is very clear, and sometimes loud, ‘No!’. There are others, I think, which must mean something as Aidan seems very insistant and makes the same exact sound over and over again – I just am not bright enough to figure out what it is that he’s saying. He’ll eventually get fed up with trying to make me understand and moves on to something more entertaining.

Aidan has also started to pick up some basic hand signals –waving bye-bye, waving bye-bye at a 90 degree angle and thus looking like he’s milking a cow for ‘milk’, touching his two hand’s fingertips together for ‘more’. It does make life a little easier with the onset of communication. Limited as it may be, it’s a start.

Back in the saddle again...

I know I had decided to only blog my new fatherhood for the initial year but there always seems to be some new event that takes place or some new milestone which has been reached and should be documented. As such, I’ve decided to add the occasional blog entry if for no other reason then to traumatize my fine young son with during his teenage years.

Here it is, nearly the end of the month of March. The weather didn’t really seem to come in roaring like a lion, and neither did Aidan. March could only be classified as the month of illness at the Stutz compound. Poor Aidan was down the flu for nearly two weeks. The first couple of days our normally happy, energetic, smiley boy was just a lump of flesh sitting on the couch slipping in and out of a fitful state of sleep with one eye while the other tried to keep focus on the television. Television eye generally gave in and joined sleep eye for an hour here, an hour there until both eyes would open half way, Aidan would look around, barely moving his head, then back off to sleep he would go.

Once our poor, little sick offspring seemed to be on the road to recovery, then came the flushing of toxins. I had no idea that any single person, let alone one which was 1/6th scale, could expel so much fluid out of every orifice possible. The eyes were running, the nose was running, there was nothing solid being contained in his stage 5 pampers at all. For nearly a week and a half we tried to simply replenish his fluids as fast as he would expend them. Oh, the joys of parenting.

I’m beginning to understand (not that i wasn't already suspecting this was the case, but I'm more firm in my conviction at this point) why all other parents, be they recent or seasoned veterans, are always asking the newly nuptialed ‘When are you going to have kids?’ It’s not because they have a genuine interest in your starting a family to either carry on the family name or cost you thousands of dollars on a white gown which will be worn for, at most, a few hours – it’s because all those other parents either want you to have to go through and experience the same misery they did. They had to go through all the tears, all the sleepless nights, all the thousands of diapers, all of the fluids being shot out every escape hatch like an erupting volcano or Old Faithful when they’ve passed their pressure limits.

Yes, it’s month 14 and we’re having a ball.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Last Post
When I started writing this blog I thought it would be a fun and interesting thing to do - what did I know, I was still awash in new parenthood bliss. I told myself that I would continue posting until Aidan was one year old - documenting along the way my experiences in dealing with being a new dad, with coping with sleepless nights and the different events that happened along the way.

It has certainly been an eventful first year; one starting out with Aidan's arrival and his having to be brought to life after being born as he wasn't breathing and blue, to tonight where Anya just put him to bed for his last night as a pre one year old. When he wakes up in the morning it will be past the time he was born and he will officially be a one year old. It's been a long road this first year, yet it seems to have gone by in just the blink of an eye. From the tiny newborn who wouldn’t open his eyes to the toddler who rarely closes his mouth - and all the many diapers and milestones in between.

It's been a fun, entertaining, educational, sleepless, many times frustrating but overall very rewarding experience which I thank Aidan for. It's been a great 12 month ride and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Shoes
We decided that Aidan was starting to out grow his baby slippers which had started to show quite a bit of wear and tear in addition to starting to be a little too small. My fine wife decided to go out and find him some new shoes, real shoes for his now walking around feet.

Someone $#%@#$^%^ explain to me how tiny infant/toddler shoes can cost more then the cross training/gym shoes I buy for myself??? How does that happen? Sure, little Aidan was provided with his own personal 'nordy' stuffed animal and provided with a picture of him wearing 'baby's first shoes', but come on - I'm sure aidan's parents would be much more pleased to do without the .05 worth of stuffed animal corporate advertisement and memento of a shopping trip in lieu of a lower price on shoes that don't seem to have much more material to them then a Brazilian thong bikini. Is there some 600% profit margin on baby shoes? Are the retail outlets simply preying on the new, insecure partents who feel they must get the best for their children for fear that by not doing so will either hamper their physical maturity or cost them later during pre-teen theropy sessions? That would be my guess.

Hey, Mr. Gates: 'Where do I want to go today?' How about to a store with baby shoes tagged with a realistic baby shoe price? Try writing some software for that will ya?

They are cute shoes though and they'll be great for the next month or so that he's actually able to fit into them.