Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dad tip #11: Giraffes have skinny necks, babies have small hands

The title of this post contains two ridiculously obvious statements. What's not as obvious is that giraffe necks and baby hands go together like Jay-Z & Beyonce, like bacon & eggs, like Batman & Robin, like iPhones & Priuses, like Mario & Luigi, like apple pie & vanilla ice cream, like the Nintendo Wii & smashed flat-screen plasma televisions, like Indiana Jones & fedoras, like ... well, you get the picture.

In any event, I've found that my son loves his giraffe toys. I think the first picture I ever took of him grabbing something with his tiny hands was one of him strangling an overly colorful giraffe whose bulbous body doubles as a rattle. More recently, we received as an extremely thoughful gift the legendary "Sophie" who he also loves and loves to hold gently by her graceful neck ... as he tries to jam her face and/or legs into his hungry drool filled mouth. It's adorable.

So, the advice here is, get your kid a giraffe toy. It'll be something that he can both enjoy as a toy and a mechanism by which he develops his motor coordination.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dad tip #10: How to avoid getting peed on by a boy

One of my co-workers is going to be having his first boy in three months. Having only dealt with a daughter in the past, he expressed some concerns about getting peed on or perhaps peed at by his son. I know that the trailer for Riding in Cars with Boys scared me with that scene where an off-screen baby pees directly into Drew Barrymore's mouth, so I don't blame him!

So, let's start off with identifying when you're going to get peed on unexpectedly. For me, it's mainly when I'm changing his diaper. Early on I figured out that you could frequently visually identify when it was likely to happen as his penis looked ... well, full. Actually, PLUMP is probably a more accurate word for it. So, if your boy's equipment looks like it's about to erupt urine all over you, it's entirely possible that he is about to erupt urine all over you.

But then later, it might get harder to eyeball it. I think my son has turned it into a game where he tries to fool me into thinking that the coast is clear so he can blindside me with his baby firehose. The best advice I received to avoid this came from my brother-in-law. He basically said, "Baby wipes are cheap. Just throw an extra one over his unit while you're changing him."

Sure enough, it's a great strategy. Take a quick peek under the hood and toss a baby wipe over his crotch and you avoid getting pee all over the place if he decides that he likes peeing in open air better than in a diaper. (It's like a like using a Peepee Teepee but you get more coverage.)

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Dad tip #9: NEVER under-dose on coffee

I have a RAGING headache right now. Why? Because I only had one cup of coffee this morning. I usually have a few extra cups when I get to the office, but three solid hours of meetings first thing prevented me from getting my usual intake of caffeine.

If you're dependent on the 'feine the way I am, you cannot under-dose or else typically enjoyable things, like baby's bedtime routine, turn into minor ordeals. In other words, feed your addiction for baby's sake.

I'm going to go have a handful of Advil, pray my head doesn't burst in a juicy explosion of gray matter, and pull a Rachael Ray tomorrow morning at Dunkin Donuts.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dad tip #8: Infomercials are a valid form of entertainment

You may find that a recurring phrase or theme of this site is "sleep deprivation". Babies have a way of disrupting your sleep and you may very well find yourself awake at odd hours. While you should always "sleep when the baby sleeps blah blah blah", it's sometimes hard to drop in and out of sleep in five to fifteen minute increments. Occasionally it's just better to stay awake.

There are many ways to entertain yourself while keeping an eye on the baby. Television is potentially one of the easier (and lazier) solutions. What is there to watch on the boob tube at 3:00 or 4:00 am?

In your youth, Skinemax might've been something you'd watch late at night, but it is most assuredly not the best choice now as a.) you don't want to scar baby with soft-core porn and b.) you're just too exhausted to care about it. However, oft-overlooked options that will be just the right level of stimulation for you in your condition are informercials.

Infomercials are great because they're almost always fascinating, they're chock full of unique characters, and they're programs that you can watch five or 50 minutes of and still get the same level of joy and understanding. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Total Gym starring Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley

  2. Magic Bullet starring Mick and Mimi,

  3. Cableflex starring Jackie Chan,

  4. Miracle Blade starring Chef Tony,

  5. P90X starring Tony Horton, and

  6. Tater Mitts starring Tater Mitts

I'll admit that I have a predisposition to enjoy infomercials anyway (I even watched part of the Magic Bullet infomercial in Spanish on our honeymoon). But, they really are solid entertainment when you're delirious from having only slept a handful of minutes. And if exercise and cooking products aren't your bag, keep in mind that there are plenty of real estate, cleaning supply, music, and hair-related infomercials out there, too. (Hello, Flowbee and Hairigami!)

I'll just have it known that I'm not the only fan of infomercials in the world. Check out this dude who Simpsonized the cast of the Magic Bullet infomercial!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dad tip #7: What you say in front of your kids WILL come back to haunt you

To be completely forthcoming, I have not yet had the awkward pleasure of learning this lesson first hand. My kid is just short of five months old and my cat has spoken more clearly disernable English than my human child. (The cat said, "Hello," once. Really. It was pretty creepy.)

However, I have heard plenty of anecdotes from a whole slew of mothers and fathers; but none so entertaining or memorable as the one I heard from my father-in-law this morning. When my wife was two or three years old, my father-in-law was in the process of removing an annoying tree from their property. Apparently this tree must've been an extremely annoying tree because the following conversation occurred:
"That damn tree is not looking any better!"

"That's not a Damn Tree, it's a F***IN' Tree!"
Ah, the logic of my wife as a child ... Clearly if dad keeps referring to the tree as a F***IN' Tree, that must be its technical designation like its Latin name or something.

Now I think I not-so-secretly harbor the hope that one day I'll be watching reruns of Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi Channel and my son will become conditioned to only refer the toaster as a "Frakkin' Toaster".
"Mom?!?!? Can you put some Eggos in the Frakkin' Toaster?!?!?"
Frak yeah! Leggo my frakkin' Eggo! (My wife is so not going to be frakkin' amused.)


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Friday, April 25, 2008

Dad tip #6: Amazon Prime is a worthwhile investment

Babies need lots of stuff. They need BPA-free bottles, they need brain-stimulating toys, they need cartoon-related music, they need potty training books, and they NEED Star Wars-themed costumes. Obviously they need lots of love, too.

However, love is available in abundance at home and fortunately does not require any annoying trips to the mall or pesky charges for shipping and handling. Everything else does. You're either stuck bringing your baby to the germ- and jerk-infested corridors of the closest mall or you pay out the wazoo for the convenience of shopping at home and the shipping charges that entails. UNLESS you join Amazon Prime.

[Cue heavenly fanfare and white light from above!]

For $79/year you get unlimited free two-day shipping (or $3.99 overnight shipping) for orders of any size for up to four members in your household. $79 might initially sound like a lot at first, but think of everything baby needs ... if you happen to think of one new thing a day, you can order it guilt- (and shipping fee-) free. Furthermore, it's a LIFESAVER for Christmas shopping. You'll probably break even on that alone.

[Cue the intro music to "The Final Countdown" by Europe.]

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dad tip #5: You, too, can exercise while getting your baby to sleep

There's an interesting dichotomy to babies when it comes to sleep. On the one hand, as a parent, you should do everything you can to set expectations for your child by way of routines and establishing a general sense of calm before bedtime. On the other hand, you stick a baby in a car seat and drive half a block, they're out like a light regardless of how many people are honking at you and flipping you off. These two sleep methods are not realistically compatible.

However, the thing I've found is that even with the best of routines, you still need to endure some sort of personal triathalon consisting of some variations of rocking, pacing, and bouncing to get your baby to surrender to sleep.

Now, let's digress for a quick moment and consider the fact that in the first few months of being a parent the most exercise you've gotten is lifting your baby out of the bassinet and oh-crap-the-baby-woke-up-again "crunches" when getting out of bed in the middle of the night. If you need to simulate some sort of motion to help ease your baby to sleep AND you're in desperate need of exercise, you might as well try to kill two birds with one Born Free bottle.

Early on, I liked doing some kind of SAFE side lunge. But now, I like to mix it up a little more by doing an extremely sloppy (but SAFE) version of a Capoeira sequence known as the "ginga". Obviously you can't really do the accompanying arm movements, but I think it's more interesting than just doing the same single movement over and over again.

For the record, I have about ten years of Kung Fu training under my belt and all of one Capoeira class. I know that makes this bit of advice a little preposterous. So, the real lesson here is that there are other options than having to endure a 26.2 minute marathon of sitting in a rocking chair to get your baby to go to sleep. There's almost certainly something you can do that can help you burn off at least a couple of calories. (But don't forget the routine!)

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dad tip #4: Baby wants to hear you sing and doesn't care how bad you're messing up the song

If there were a time in your life that you wanted to sing your heart out with reckless abandon and no fear of embarrassment, regardless of how good or bad your voice is and regardless of whether or not you even remotely know the words, NOW is the time to do it. Baby is not American Idol's Simon Cowell and baby is also not that high school English teacher that forced you to memorize Shakespearean sonnets word for word.

What this means is: Baby wants to hear you sing and doesn't care how bad you're messing up the song. For example, my wife and I have both composed many "alternate" verses to a well-known children's lullaby, but I'll just share with you a few of mine that you're welcome to adapt for your own child:

Hush little {insert child's name} don't you cry,
Daddy's gonna buy you an apple pie.
And if that apple pie is good,
Daddy's gonna buy some vanilla Hood.

Hush little {insert child's name} don't you fuss.
Daddy's gonna buy you a brand new bus.
The bus will have a lot of seats,
Space for apple pie and treats.

Hush little {insert child's name} don't you kick,
Daddy's gonna buy you a car named KITT.
KITT might try to talk a lot,
That's 'cuz he's a car-robot.

We recommend mixing up the lyrics to traditional children's songs, contemporary pop, and even holiday music. Oh, what's that? You want another sample of our lyrical mastery? Try this one on for size (to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree):

Oh {insert child's name}, oh {insert child's name},
You love to fill your diaper.

You like to pee, you like to poop,
You fill it up, I need a scoop.

Oh {insert child's name}, oh {insert child's name},
You love to fill your diaper.

They say that "music soothes the savage beast". Well, it's a lesser known fact that babies are actually the distant cousins of savage beasts. So enjoy making up words and enjoy singing them because your baby will love you for it. Knight Rider's David Hasselhoff will love you for it too.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dad tip #3: Don't flinch when your kid poops on you

Like the title says, "Don't flinch when your kid poops on you" (and your kid, more than likely, WILL poop on you). You might be asking "poop directly ON you" and not just "GET poop on you"? So, let me tell you a short story:
Once upon a time, there was a man. This man was taking wonderful care of his baby one afternoon. By chance this fine afternoon, the baby was feeling gassy and also having slightly watery bowel movements. During one diaper change, the baby launched a substantial volley of baby feces (also known in this household as "rocket poo") all over the man's arm. The end.

No big deal. A few baby wipes, a spare diaper, an extra load of laundry and we were good to go. Now, let me tell you the sequel to this story:
Once upon a time, there was a man (the same man as before). This man was taking wonderful care of his baby one evening. And by chance, the baby was feeling gassy and also having slightly watery bowel movements again. During one diaper change, the baby sprayed -- SPRAYED! -- rocket poo out of his butt. Alas, the man's reflexes weren't fast enough and upon flinching, that is to say vigorously yanking his arm out of the way, created poo-themed Jackson Pollock-like "artwork" all over the changing table, the wall, and yes, the white curtains three feet away. The end.

It should go without saying that the moral of the story simply is, "Don't flinch when your kid poops on you."

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Dad tip #2: Wind-up mobiles are crap

$50 might sound like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on something as seemingly trivial as a mobile. After all, you can only use it in your baby's crib until they begin pushing up on their hands and knees, at which point, it becomes a safety hazard.

However, let's think about the first few months of your life as a new parent. You're learning how to change diapers, you're feeding the baby all the time, you're insanely sleep deprived, and the biggest decision of your weekend is whether you should eat, pee, or shower with the ten free minutes you have.

Enter the $50 mobile (we have the Tiny Love Symphony, Light & Music Mobile). It rotates in a billion different places, it lights up, it plays music, it makes nature sounds, and most importantly, it keeps your kid mesmerized for up to 20 minutes straight.

Let's compare these attributes with those of a traditional wind-up mobile. It plays an annoyingly jaunty version of some children's song like "How Much Is that Doggie in the Window", it plays that song about 20 times over before stopping after three minutes, and it forces you to rush back to the crib in a panic to rewind the mobile HOPEFULLY before your baby starts flipping out.

In retrospect, I'd probably go back and buy the model that comes with a remote control so that Sunday mornings when baby wakes up at 5:45am, I can fire up the mobile from our warm cozy bed for an extra 20 minutes of sleep. Think about it ... wind-up mobiles really are crap and your sanity is worth way more than $50.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dad tip #1: Don't let your wife read the freakin' Nest!

I couldn't think of a more fitting or more helpful piece of advice to kick this site off with than to warn husbands/fathers to somehow prevent your wives from reading The Nest is the devil incarnate.

The Nest will put CRAZY ideas in your wife's head and will make her doubt or question every and any possible thing about your child. For example, if you were wondering, "Hmm, I wonder when our baby will start rolling over?", your wife will hop on to a Nest message board and determine not only that your child should've been rolling over weeks ago (regardless of how old he or she is), but also that everyone else's child has been sleeping soundly through the night since birth and is already somewhat well-versed in metaphysics and the finer details of constructing a Japanese haiku ... IN JAPANESE.

As a side note, The Nest has also accidentally accepted shady advertising in the past that has resulted in nasty virus-y things being installed on people's machines and forced people (read: ME) to clean spyware off of the computer. And yes, I realize that there's some sort of irony in having to link to a Nest message board for documentation on said issue, but I honestly couldn't find reference to this elsewhere right now.

So, do what you have to and keep your wife away from The Nest!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Welcome to daily advice for the new dad!

Welcome! I am the uber-proud father of the coolest four-month old kid the world has ever seen.

Those four months blew by in flash, but I feel like I learned so much stuff that I wish I'd known right at the start of fatherhood. Stuff like "what should I do if my kid poops on me while I'm changing his diaper?" (Or perhaps more importantly, "what shouldn't I do?")

And so, I plan on sharing one juicy tidbit a day for all you new dads out there. The disclaimer here, of course, is that I've only been a father for four months, so I'm just about as new as a new dad can get and still dole out advice for other new dads.

Take it all with a grain of salt and enjoy!

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