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Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Thank God. We are in the middle of our vacation week and Jack is sleeping all the way through the night.
It’s because of readers who commented on “Losing Sleep Over Where My Son Will Sleep (Part 1)” that we decided on our son’s sleeping arrangements while we’re staying out here in California:
We have pushed two twin beds together. One is against a wall, where Jack sleeps, and it is bordered with big pillows.
From the very first night, this system has worked well. I have no complaints and have experienced no stress in regards to Jack sleeping.
In fact, he almost sleeps better this way. Last night he slept for 12 and a half hours!
The first morning I was so happy that I promised to get him a treat.
We drove by a party store and let him pick out two Made-in-China plastic animals that cost 35 cents each, as well as, a 65 cent mini Rubik’s Cube.
For his animals, Jack chose another horse and sheep that looks like he peed over itself; it has a yellow underbelly. (Pictured right.)
So I haven’t turned into the Incredible Hulk and the three of us are very well rested on our vacation.
Use me as your Guinea Pig. If you are planning a vacation with a toddler who doesn’t sleep well in new environments, try what I did.
Put pillow borders around a bed that is against a wall and stick to your child’s normal bedtime rituals.
I’m not saying that we haven’t had a share of other behavioral issues since we’ve been here, though. Stay tuned for an upcoming post referring to India Syndrome.
But as long as everybody’s getting sleep here, I’ve got no complaints.
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
I sit on the couch in the dark with a lame Halloween movie on in the background and my sleeping wife by my side.
Right now it’s 9:36 PM in the quiet neighborhood of Walnut Grove, California, where we are visiting my wife’s family for our annual family “vacation.”
(It’s no secret that when the word “vacation” and “toddler” are in the same sentence… well, it’s pretty much a prompt for laugh tracks.)
After sifting through our 23 month-old son’s candy stash from tonight, I am buzzed on peanut butter cups and everything else chocolate.
As for Jack’s own candy peddling efforts, which brought me to my current state of cocoa delirium, we visited about a dozen houses before he saw the fire truck there to help patrol the neighborhood. A friendly fireman agreed to take our family picture. (Bottom photo.)
Just a couple of hours ago before I put him to bed, Jack was at the front door helping giving candy to “the kids.”
It was really funny because every time the door bell rang, he ran to the door, anxious to see what strangely dressed child would be standing there.
My favorite was a little boy who wasn’t much older than him, wearing a Thomas the Train costume.
The boy saw Jack wearing his train conductor costume and shouted out to this mother, “Look! He’s a train conductor! A train conductor!”
Then things got semi-awkward as the little boy saw the toy train that Jack was holding. He assumed that in addition to candy, Jack was going to give him a train too.
Thomas the Train and the train conductor stared at each other for a long 15 seconds before the boy’s mom took him by the hand to leave for the next house.
It’s a weird, random “holiday” anyway.
Looking back on this past week of Halloween, these past couple of days in particular have included family neighborhood walks where the agenda has been “looking for owls.”
For Jack, ghosts are owls.
I finally only recently realized that every time Jack saw a ghost decoration or toy, I always made a Scoobie Doo style “whoooooo” sound.
So I get it now: Ghosts sound like owls and therefore, they are owls.
Well, this isn’t the end of Halloween for us, or Jack’s costume, at least. He has his first (of two) 2nd birthday parties this weekend.
We decided what better outfit could Jack wear for his birthday parties other than his train conductor costume? After all, his birthday parties this year will have a train theme.
So these are only the first of many more pictures of Train Conductor Jack.
I guess you could say we’re going green when it comes to Halloween, as we will be reusing his costume. Of course, I have a feeling that Jack wouldn’t mind dressing like a train conductor every day if we let him.
Actually, I wouldn’t be opposed to that.
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
We’re not a family of beach bums. We’re the opposite; whatever the opposite of a beach bum is.
In other words, we like to go where the crowds aren’t and where the weather isn’t very hot.
Fortunately, my wife’s family is in Sacramento; which gives us a good and necessary reason to travel out there once a year.
This weekend, that’s where we will be flying. With Jack’s 2nd birthday coming up on November 16th, this is the last time we can take advantage of him getting to fly for free.
No doubt about it, I’m very excited to take a week off from work and travel to one of my favorite spots in America.
But of course, I’m looking at this from a realistic perspective. A “vacation” with a nearly 2-year-old where we’re flying cross-country is not exactly a vacation for me.
I don’t mind being a glorified version of a stage hand while my wife catches up with her family and gets to see Jack, after over a year since last time.
Even the plane ride with Jack doesn’t intimidate me much. After all, I survived it last year when he was much more high maintenance.
The only thing that worries me is where he will sleep. It’s a really big deal to me.
If he doesn’t get good, consistent nights of sleep while we’re out there, I will turn into the Incredible Hulk.
(Not the updated Avengers movie version, but the 1978 Lou Ferrigno TV show.)
I don’t like me when I’m angry. When Jack doesn’t sleep well, neither do I; then I turn into a monster.
Jack still sleeps in his crib and he has outgrown his Pack N Play.
So one option is to put up some safety rails alongside a twin bed once we get there.
Another option is to buy a cheap or used Pack N Play as soon as we arrive, but A) I don’t want to have to worry about that after getting off the plane and B) I don’t want to spend money on something I may not be able to bring back home.
The best case scenario is we find a friend or family member who has a Pack N Play that we can borrow while we’re there, but no luck on that so far.
I guess this dilemma took the back burner in the midst of planning not only the trip out there but also Jack’s birthday party for that side of the family.
But here we are, days away from leaving, and I don’t have closure with this.
To dissect why this causes so much turmoil and unsettledness for me, it is because it’s my job to get Jack to sleep for all his naps and bedtimes. That’s one of the things I do! I’m very proud of that skill.
Without me getting him to sleep, it’s a world suspended in chaos. Bad things, man.
Getting Jack to sleep is something I’m an expert on. But without the appropriate place for him to fall asleep, I can’t work my magic.
The world is coming to an end.
To be continued…
Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Is there such a thing as “free time” after becoming a parent? When can a new mom or dad find time in the week to just simply chill out together in peace and quiet; or even more difficult, be able to participate in their beloved hobbies that reflect who they are as individuals?
Other than daddy blogging, I also enjoy playing guitar and writing songs (though that hardly ever happens anymore). But the hobby that is a bit less sporadic in my schedule is simply exploring, whether it’s via hiking or mountain biking.
In his book, Daddy Dates, author Greg Wright perfectly describes why “exploring” is a solid hobby of mine:
“It’s the way guys operate. Exploration amps us up. There is this moment when curiosity rules and you get kind of jazzed and you think, ‘I wonder what’s in there, this is so cool!’ You’re going to figure out how to get around that mysterious place because you’re motivated by some instinct of discovery.”
While in California last month, I found a few 90 minute nuggets where I could slip away virtually unnoticed, amidst all the family. I snagged a mountain bike from my mother-in-law’s garage, then went exploring along the Sacramento River.
I ended up accidently discovering the neighboring 15 acre community of Locke. The Chinatown, settled alongside the river, was built in 1915. These days, it resembles a closed down, but kept up, exhibit at the Epcot Center. I read on Wikipedia that most of the original Chinese population of the town moved out to Sacramento and that today only 10 Chinese-Americans remain residents there.
See, that’s the cool kind of find I’m always looking for when I go exploring. My favorite part of the expedition was finding a Buddhist church. In Thailand, Buddhist temples were everywhere, but never a church. Weird and cool.
As far as finding and/or making time for myself and my hobbies, it takes creativity. There’s that strategic balance of being a good husband, a good dad, and still getting some “free time” anyway I can. Even now, as I write this, it’s 11:08 on a Monday night- my wife and son are sound asleep; I’ll be waking up at 6 AM to get ready for my “real job”.
My free time often translates as “time when I’m the only one awake,” as well as, “time during which most normal parents would be asleep if they had the chance.”
I’m one of those people who functions strangely well on less than six hours of sleep each night. If I wasn’t, The Dadabase would be on life support right now.
Categories: Home Life, Nostalgia, Storytelling, The Dadabase, Writing | Tags: baby blog, blogging, Buddhist, California, Chinatown, dad, daddy blog, Daddy Dates, Epcot Center, exploring, hobby, parenting, Sacramento, Thailand, time management, weird
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Ever since he was born last November, Jack has never been afraid of anything. In fact, things that should scare him to the point of crying are actually the things that make him laugh. On the other hand, when people try to make him laugh by being silly, he just sort of gives a blank stare, as if to say, “What? That’s all ya got?”.
Just to be clear on what doesn’t scare Jack, I often speak to him in my Freddy Krueger voice while making my Freddy Krueger face, saying things like, “How’s this for fine dining?” while feeding him his bottle. Or during playtime and he’s crawling on the floor I’ll chase him while crawling myself, again in Freddy Krueger mode: “Come here, son. I eat babies for breakfast!”. And he grunts with delight.
One particularly fun and unsafe game I play with Jack is when I throw a thin blanket over him. As he tries to remove it, waving his arms, he looks like a generic ghost from Scooby Doo. It usually only takes a few seconds for him to reappear and as soon as he does, he’s always laughing.
With that being said, we finally found something that scares Jack. Recently we ate at a restaurant meeting some friends for breakfast. Oddly enough, the place we ate was adjoined to a PetCo pet store. So we decided to check out the live animals for some Saturday morning entertainment.
Jack loved the dogs, birds, fish, and even the smelly weasels- or were they ferrets?
But on our way out the door, we realized we had totally missed the cats when we had entered the PetCo. As I held Jack in my arms, walking closer to the caged cats that happened to be at Jack’s eye level, he started crying a different kind of cry than I am used to hearing from him. It wasn’t “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired.” Instead, it was the rare “I’m scared! Get me out of here!”.
In particular, there was a black cat with green eyes that started creeping toward Jack. Though in a cage, it really freaked him out. To be fair, the cat truly was a bit creepy; all panther-like and whatnot.
The fearless and adventurous Indiana Jones was known for being terrified of snakes. Looks like the equally daring Jack has found his weakness in the feline form.
*These pictures were taken at a random mini-amusement park in Lodi, California; the same city that was featured in the 1969 song “Lodi” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, containing the lyrics, “stuck in ole Lodi again.”
Categories: Growing Up, Nostalgia, Storytelling | Tags: 1969, animals, baby blog, California, Creedence Clearwater Revival, daddy blog, fear, Freddy Krueger, funny, Indiana Jones, Lodi, PetCo, pets, Scooby Doo