Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dad tip #101: Appreciate every member of your family

The summer already seems to be coming to something of a close as my sister and her family headed back to London yesterday and my parents will be heading back to Richmond in three days. It was really nice having everyone around regardless of what we were doing, because the more important thing was what we were just being: family.

Tonight, my parents came over to hang out. We had takeout Chinese for dinner, and then we watched the Boston Celtics 2007-2008 Championship Season DVD. What a totally chill and great way to unwind from work!

Plus, our son got to spend a little extra time with his grandparents who he TOTALLY recognizes and loves now; which really is awesome beyond words.

So, tonight's advice is just appreciate everyone in your family: your baby, your wife, your parents, your siblings, your in-laws ... everyone!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dad tip #88: Beware the lamenting baby

Tonight's advice will be in the form of a haiku:
Why, James Posey, why?
Oh, why did you have to leave?
I'm just a baby!
Okay, it's late. I'm not feeling particularly creative. And I'm totally bummed that James Posey left the Boston Celtics for a longer contract with the New Orleans Hornets. I certainly don't blame him; after all, he's got to look out for his family. We just won't be able to replace a guy like that.

If for some reason the Celtics aren't able to win at least one more championship in the next three years, I'll point to this as the reason why. And by then, my son will be old enough to ask, "Why?" and I'll have to explain to the little boy the nature of professional sports as a business and that James Posey (and Danny Ainge for that matter) did what he had to do.

So the advice here is, umm ... something about balancing loyalty and logic or balancing the heart and the mind. Or something like that.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dad tip #64: DVR is your friend

Last night, I watched game 7 of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Semis between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. At this point, that games is really just a footnote in the tale of how the Celtics won their 17th championship. However, it was a game I never actually watched due being in London for a business trip. So, it's great that I can go back and enjoy that game now because my lovely wife (who gave me a live play-by-play of the the last three minutes of the game) DVRed it for me.

I suspect 99% of the people who read blogs (or even know what blogs are) must know that DVRs are Digital Video Recorders. Apart from scenarios like the one I just described, there are many situations for parents of babies where a DVR is a luxury that we'd have a hard time doing without. Let me run down some examples:
  1. Your baby is make louding noises and you missed some key dialog in an episode of Boston Legal ... no worries, just rewind and replay.
  2. Oh no, the bedtime routine is running long and right into primetime or the middle of a Red Sox game ... no worries, with a DVR, you'll probably miss just enough to fast forward though all the commercials.
  3. Awww man! They shifted Lost to a 10:00pm time-slot and that's too late for us to stay up ... no worries, just watch it tomorrow.
DVR is your friend who can help you through all of these scenarios. HOWEVER, I will warn that Boston-area Comcast subscribers who are testing the Tivo software "upgrade" on their DVRs may find that while DVR is their friend, Comcast is just an incompetent jerk. But that's a story for another time and another blog.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dad tip #60: Beware flailing babies

Tonight's advice will be in the form of a haiku:
Chubby arm-windmills
"If do right, no can defend!"
Bye-bye daddy's teeth
I've previously copped out of writing full posts by warning fathers of head-butting babies and kicking babies with haikus. I'm being a lame-o tonight because I'm preparing to attend the parade in Boston tomorrow celebrating the Celtics' 17th NBA Championship!

And yes, I realize that I quoted Mr. Miyagi from the first Karate Kid when I'm obviously thinking of Daniel LaRusso's movie-ending "drum technique" from Karate Kid II. I figured it was close enough to get the point across. Anyway, I'll be the first to admit that I'm always looking for a cheap excuse to lift quotes from Karate Kid.

P.S. The Celtics TOTALLY squished the Lakers like grapes (131-92).

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dad tip #59: Expect to have at least one conversation about poop a day

Guess what? Now that you've got a baby, you have a being in your house who poops his pants regularly. Sometimes you'll change the diaper. Sometimes your wife will. Sometimes it's a two person operation. No matter which scenario, you'll end up with a conversation about poop. The conversations may include phrases like:
"Oh my god, I can't believe how bad that poop smelled!"

"Ewwww! I got poop on my finger!"

"Did he poop today? No? When was the last time he pooped?"

"I went through five diapers because he just kept pooping!"

"There's poo erupting out of his diaper in the back AND the front!"

"I'll go do a load of poo-laundry..."
And on and on and on. But you know what? The last thing I'll say about poop tonight is that I hope the Celtics kick the poop out of the Lakers and close out the finals tonight!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dad tip #57: Enjoy your first Father's Day

So, today was a great day! My wife (and my son, obviously) made my first Father's Day really special. I'm REALLY lucky and thankful to have them.

What made today extra nice is that there were absolutely no distractions from spending time with my wife and son. The entire focus of today was to enjoy being with both of them. No chores, no errands, no obligations, and no expectations. It's nice sometimes to just BE.

And also, it was nice to reflect on the amazing journey that the last six months comprised. Cheesy and cliché, but true.

Now that my son is down for the night, it's time to enjoy game five of the 2008 NBA Playoffs. My Celtics are up 3-1 on the Lakers and I'm prepared to go absolutely insane (in a good way) if they manage to close out the series tonight in LA. But I'll do it quietly so as not to wake my boy up.

Happy Father's Day!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Dad tip #55: Rioting is not a proper form of celebration

So, last night's Celtics game went from being a total disaster to being one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history with the Lakers blowing a 24-point lead. The series now stands 3-1 with the Boston Celtics needing only one more win to clinch the 2008 title.

This afternoon I stumbled across an article detailing security preparations in Boston, should the Celtics win their 17th NBA World Championship. With the New England Patriots' and Boston Red Sox's recent success, the local police have experienced their share of incidents where something that should be entirely positive turns horrifyingly negative. The anxiety factor is such that:
Bars will be instructed to close their blinds if they have televisions facing windows that look out onto the street so passersby are not incited by the game.
Wow! Sounds a bit marshall law-ish, but there have been a couple of post-championship deaths in recent years.

So, my advice is more of mental note for myself to make sure that when the time comes we teach our son that rioting is not a proper form of celebration. Or perhaps it's that we should simply just teach him how to both win AND lose gracefully.

On the other hand, while I've never seen my wife riot, she does like to give a good taunting when she wins anything. Tetris? Yep. Blokus? Yep. Phase 10? Yep. Boggle? Yep. PathWords? Yep. Thumb wrestling? Yep. etc. etc. etc.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dad tip #54: Cloth diapers make perfect burp cloths

Babies spit up, throw up, pee, and spill food. In general, they're incredibly capable of making wet messes in just about any situation.

As opposed to using things like paper towels (not particularly environmentally friendly) or designer burp cloths (not particularly economical), consider using cloth diapers. I'm definitely not suggesting you replace your Pampers (or Huggies or Luvs or whatever) with cloths diapers ... that's just more effort than I'd be willing to invest and more effort than I'd ever even propose to anyone else. I'm just suggesting that if you're considering buying actual burp cloths, consider using cloth diapers in their stead.

They're cheap, durable, convenient, and super-absorbent. We keep a stack in the living room and a stack in the nursery. It's allllllll good.

(Now I'm going to go resume SCREAMING at the television because the Lakers are kicking the POOP out of my Celtics in the first half of game four right now of the 2008 NBA Finals.)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dad tip #52: Baby still wants to hear you sing!

Waaaaaay back in April when I first started this blog, I posted an article about how "Baby wants to hear you sing and doesn't care how bad you're messing up the song."

About a month and a half later, I'm finding this to be even more true than before. Heck, I'm finding that it's even better when I play guitar and sing, but I'll save that for a post on another day. Anyhow, I figured I'd reiterate that tip and post my wife's verses for the "Hush Little" lullaby (I have no idea what the name of that song actually is):

Hush little {insert child's name} don't you fret,
Daddy's gonna buy you a brand new jet.
On that jet you'll go real far,
Faster than in any car.

Hush little {insert child's name} don't you wail.
Daddy's gonna buy you a boat to sail.
On that boat you'll have some fun,
Playing all day in the sun.

Hush little {insert child's name} don't you boast,
Daddy's gonna make you a slice of toast.
On that toast he'll put some jam,
And perhaps a side of ham.
I figured that was totally worth documenting. I also figured tonight was the perfect night to do it since it's an easier topic to cover. I got home late from work and game 3 of the 2008 NBA Finals is on tonight so a faster post was on the docket. And if you've been following this blog, you'll know how insane I've been about the Celtics.


(P.S. If you're looking for that "Frakkin' Toaster" t-shirt, go to Glarkware.)

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dad tip #50: Unless you've got a truck, get your crib shipped

More than likely you've had your crib purchased, delivered, and assembled for quite some time now. We got ours months before our son was born, but I suppose there are some people who wait.

If for some reason you haven't yet purchased your crib, my recommendation would be to make sure to have it shipped. We have a Toyota Rav4 and chose to pick our crib up at the store. We were JUST able to fit all the pieces in the SUV. The box was GIGANTIC; far larger than we were anticipating for some reason.

We didn't feel safe putting the whole box on the roof and we were concerned about scratching the wood when we put the crib in the back piece-by-piece. On the whole, it was just plain aggravating. The $20 shipping charge (or whatever it was) would've been worth it.

And if this post sounds like something of a cop-out, it kind of is because I'm settling in for the drama of game 2 of the 2008 NBA Finals where we'll see if Paul Pierce can come back from his knee injury to lead the Celtics over the Lakers.

Hey, at least I'm honest.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dad tip #47: Stop, breathe, clear your head, and balance

We're thankful. EXTREMELY thankful. Our baby boy is wonderful for any number of reasons, but one reason that we're particularly thankful for is that he's been sleeping through the night for a while now. [Knocking vigorously on wood as I type.]

However, that wasn't the case four or five months ago. Back then we were lucky to get three and half hours of broken sleep a night. When you're running on that little sleep and you're getting woken up every 15 minutes, you're dangerous. No matter how careful you are, you're just not operating a 100% efficiency. I recall waking up in the semi-darkness -- I think we kept a bedside lamp on all the time; what was the point in turning it off if you needed to turn it on a couple of minutes? -- and being so exhausted, that I literally wobbled out of bed.

Wobbling is NOT a good thing if you're about to pick up a baby.

So, I'd stop, lean against the dresser, take several deep breaths, clear my head, and get myself balanced. Sure, this sometimes took a minute or two and the baby was crying the whole time, but I'm sure it was worth it.

And now, I'm planning on using the same technique as I prepare myself for game one of the 2008 NBA Finals as my Boston Celtics take on the LA Lakers.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Dad tip #41: "Sleep when the baby sleeps" cliché is true

The old cliché advice "sleep when the baby sleeps" is typically given when your child is a newborn. During that phase of your life, every 15 minutes of sleep you can steal count.

There are times even now, six months in, where I think that cliché is relevant advice -- say, on a day where you got up early for a business call to India (they're nine and a half hours ahead of us) and the Celtics are in Detroit trying to close out the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in six games and tip off is at 8:30pm (which means the game will end after 11:00pm). I certainly could and should go to sleep early because yard work and Home Depot await tomorrow. But you're positively insane if you think I'm missing this game.

Anyhow, I got to thinking, could there be alternate yet equally sound bits of advice that I could squeeze out of "sleep when the baby sleeps"? Let's try these on for size:
"Drink a bunch of breast milk and spit up when the baby drinks a bunch of breast milk and spits up."

"Grab anything within arm's reach and jam it in your mouth when your baby grabs anything within arm's reach and jams it in his mouth."

"Accidentally roll on to your stomach and have a red-faced fit when your baby accidentally rolls on to his stomach and has a red-faced fit.

"Poo yourself and have it erupt out of your pants when your baby poos himself and it erupts out of his pants."
Honestly, I thought about this and struggled to find a bit of advice structured like this that I really believed in. What I did come up with was: "Find joy in the ordinary simple things in life when your baby finds joy in the ordinary simple things of life." Hmm ... the more I think about it, the more I like that!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dad tip #39: Consider shifting your work schedule

Tonight's post is going to be a quickie. Why? Because I got home just in time to catch my son's bedtime routine. And now having just finished dinner, I'm going to immerse myself in the Game 5, Eastern Conference Finals experience.

So, tonight's advice simply is: Consider shifting your work schedule so you can leave early enough to have dinner with your wife, to spend some time with your kid, and to decompress a little. Take traffic into consideration, too if you live is a major city.

Now I'm going to go watch the Celtics game and lose my mind if they lose to Detroit.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dad tip #29: Babies don't need as much chaos as you do

Growing up, I have pretty clear memories of my father at his desk working on his computer, while reading articles on cell biology, watching the news on television, and sometimes also listening to some NPR-ish or classical music AM radio station. I suppose I am my father's son, except you'd swap "articles on cell biology" for "Geek Monthly Magazine", "the news" for "Lost" or "Celtics game", and "listening to the radio" for "playing guitar".

I'd like to think that in some fashion, this sort of media over-stimulation has made me a stronger multi-tasker. But, I'm also the first to admit that I think I'm a little ADD and not always the best listener.

That all said, with research out there showing that exposure to pretty much anything and everything can lead to your child developing ADD or ADHD, it certainly can't hurt to limit how often your baby is exposed to stuff like television and also how many different things you expose your baby to at once. I'm not saying ANY of the research is 100% correct or even 10% correct, but it does make you think.

Sure your kid needs stimulation to help with development, but isn't the best and most fun stimulation the kind that you're better off personally supplying as a parent? Now that I've said that, I'll try to do a better job walking the walk now that I've talked the talk. Hopefully I'm not doing too badly right now, but I can always do better.

On the other hand, if as a result of all the chaos, my kid turns out to be a geeky musician who loves the Boston Celtics, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dad tip #28: Spend as much time as you can with your baby before you leave on a business trip

What I'm finding is that it gets harder to leave on business trips the older my son gets. Since he's becoming more and more aware of everything around him, I get the sense that this time he'll know I'm not around. That kind of sucks.

So, I recommend spending as much time with your kid as possible before you have to leave. Secondarily, maybe have your wife do some things that may give your child the impression that you're actually there.

For instance, while I'm gone, my wife might play every Star Wars DVD (in the order of their original release), cook up something garlic-y and spicy to fill the house with that familiar aroma, repeatedly make some complaints about how the Celtics are playing well below their ability right now in the 2008 NBA Playoffs, and then play the new Jason Mraz CD We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things non-stop with any time left over. (I've been singing the song "I'm Yours" to Connor as his lullabye for a couple of months now -- I included Jason Mraz's video for the single below.)

Okay, here's the part where I expect anyone I know who's reading this blog to fill the comments with all sorts of other unflattering stuff I do on a regular basis. And ... GO!

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