Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dear Berkley: Sleep Well

We're about 5 days into teaching Berkley to lay down in a big boy bed (no more crib), stay there, and then sleep there all nightttttttttttttttttttttttt. Sorry, I just fell asleep for 30 minutes from being awake for 4.92 days.

Berk moved into a real bed about 3 weeks ago. He was crawling out of his own bed, so it made sense. 3 seconds later I got a concussion mountain biking. So, for a good week I was useless, and Courtney wasn't up to the whole sleep training while as the same time I wasn't up to not sleeping. On the contrary, I slept about 20 hours a day. Thanks Courtney.

After that Courtney picked up a rough cold/cough. I think she's got tuberculosis. She sounds like Doc Holliday on Tombstone. Finally Sunday that started to let up.

So Sunday night, off we go. A typical evening can go like this:
7pm to 8pm: Go through normal relaxing bedtime routine
8pm: go up and put Berkley to bed
8:01pm: sing some songs, read a book, say some prayers
8:05pm: kiss obviously sleepy child, go to leave room
8:05pm + 1 millisecond: crying begins, followed by tantrum
8:15pm: Berkley comes out of room, Courtney puts him back in bed

Oh yeah, she's right there, sitting in a chair outside the room. Want to know what's super fun? Sitting on the other side of a door from your screaming child. Yay.

8:16pm: repeat crying, open door, back to bed routine 13 times.
8:40pm: Berkley goes back to sleep
11:56pm: Berkley wakes up. Nap over mama! Repeat back to bed, scream, door, bed scream, want to commit suicide routine 9 times.

So you get it. Admittedly, it's gotten easier the last couple of nights.

Nap time? Yeah, that's pretty much gone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Berkley: Nobody Likes a Copycat

Whenever I start to do something now, and I do mean anything. Berkley wants to do it too. Or, just do it instead of me.

Today, I was going to mop the bedroom floor and get rid of the dust bunnies. But oh no, Berkley decided he wanted to "sweep." Awesome, go sweep then. Except Berkley's sweeping is not so effective. I think it's roughly 4% coverage, or lasts until his attention span rolls onto something else. That's about 19 seconds of sweeping.

Berkley, let Daddy sweep when he gets started, it doesn't happen often.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Berkley: You Make Vacation Kinda High Stress

We dont' really have time for summer vacation. I have a few organization-defining projects due this fall, and Courtney is working out of town about 562 weeks this summer. BUT, we found some time, and here's how it went with a 2 year old.

Myrtle Beach.
Did you notice "beach" in the name up there? Well, I should just call it Myrtle Swimming Pool, because that's where I'll be. You can have the beach and every single sweaty, dirty, sticky grain of sand on it. I have no love for this sand. And if it's not the above type of sand, it's soft, fluffy sand between the house and the packed down dirty sand that has warmed to roughly 4000 degrees by 9am. Oh yes, let's walk around on that as long as possible while dragging three armloads of beach crap that will be forgotten the second a giant hole is dug by yours truly. Next year I'm just bringing a full-size shovel.

Berkley was pretty dang good on the beach trip, I have to admit. He slept well, played in the pool in at least 45 second blocks, and in general did not drown. Here's a typical day for him at the beach:
1) Wake up
2) Shit! I'm in a room with other people? Well, let me say their names as many times as humanly possible until they get me out of here.
3) Thanks for getting me up. Now, where is that train the other kid brought?
5) Whew, the train. And I'm hungry.
6) Pancakes are the elixir of the gods. I need more. What is this bacon you mention? I need all of it.
7) Time to swim. Yes, I hear you say it's 8am. Get your bathing suit on, slave.
8) Nope. Tricked ya. I am going to open and close the gate to the pool 700 times. You stand in the pool and call my name over and over.
9) Allrighty, let's swim, mofo.
10) Throw me. Again. Again x 100.
11) GATE! Now, x 500.
12) LUNCH, now. I will literally die of hunger if I'm not fed in 14 seconds.
13) Ham? WTF? I like pancakes, and bacon, but I'm starving so this will do.
14) Train please. TRAIN DAMMIT.
15) The TV is on? WTF is this news stuff? YO GABBA or you die.
16) Swim.
17) Got you again, sucka. GATE!
18) Actual swim. I pooped in the pool. Whose your daddy now?
19) Hey, all these adults are laughing a lot. Must be that giant cooler of beer.
20) Empty beer bottle? Yes, that is a toy. I should play with all things that I do not recognize.
21) Why is Mom always saying "No" to the toys I pick out?
22) I'm swimming with you, but I'm thinking... Train.
23) Beach? Hell yeah. Dig me a hole you man slave.
24) What is that? Ocean? I should run into that without an adult.
25) This sand is annoying. I should shove it in my eyes.
26) GATE. Seriously, I have to open and close this here gate. Somebody said if I close it 100 more times I get a train set.
28) Oh, everyone is on the porch relaxing after taking a shower? That's sweet. I'd like to go to the ocean now, unless I can play trains.
29) STILL HUNGRY. Whew. Thanks for the dinner. Pizza is my fav.
30) I'm dead tired, but can I play with the train? That wasn't a request, BTW.
31) Read books, sleep.

This one was a grand total of one night. But it was pretty good. Berkley has no concept of "our campsite" so he just wandered all over the campground looking at other people's stuff. They were nice about it. The water was too low to swim in the lake by the campsite. I'll remember to check that next time, because camping 100 miles away was the same as camping at my house, except it was 80 degrees in the tent as we tried to sleep. Super fun.

Berkley was very good for this trip too. Even slept in the tent alone while Courtney and I lit a campfire which lasted long enough to roast a grand total of 2 marshmallows before it burned out.

We're going to Knoxville for Labor Day to see old friends. Report to come.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dear Berkley: You're Pretty Heavy For a Skinny Kid

Anyone who sees Courtney's blog on Berkley knows he's a skinny guy. I say good. Clothes are expensive, and I saw a report not long ago showing that people who are slightly starving live longer. We've got him on the part to happiness: starvation.

But for a skinny kid, he's pretty dang heavy when I load him up in a jog-stroller and try to run a 5k. That was the case this past weekend when we ran a 5k in downtown GSO to benefit the Children Museum.

Of course, I ran to benefit my wallet: so I wouldn't have to buy new pants for my big ole' butt. And I figured pushing Berk would be no big deal. WRONG-O.

He's heavy, and our ridiculously nice and expensive stroller has an equally ridiculous tendency to turn right at all times. Sort of like when you're in the car and it's always drifting one direction.

So Berk: eat, don't eat, whatever. I'm not encouraging you to gain any more weight as long as I'm doing the pushing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dear Berkley: Hats Are For Outside

Really, that's all. I just want to remember to educate Berkley to dress like a grown up once he's out of school. That means no hats inside.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dear Berkley: You Cannot Have a Handgun

I've noticed a tidal wave of people (people I know) getting their concealed carry permit so they won't have to wait for a background check before buying a firearm. I think it's in the event someone like President Obama thwarts the NRA and makes people wait longer, or makes less people eligible for gun ownership. I also noticed the NRA (whose board of directors seem to be awfully in bed with the gun industry) has had many of their gun toting myths debunked lately, and has gone back to the "gun control is a socialist plot to disarm America then make us all eat organic food and recycle everything" myth.

Anyhow, I'm not for or against guns. I've hunted a lot and had an amazing time, I enjoy shooting a gun. On the flip side I would not trust 80% of the people I know with a gun. I barely trust me, and have missed many ducks because I'm always putting my gun back on safety then forgetting it's on.

What I am against in general is shooting someone. In war, yes, shoot away. Hunting? Bang bang, get some meat. But in the house? Seems like a bad idea.

I realize that in order to shoot an armed intruder hell-bent on killing everyone in my house and then stealing my Rooms-To-Go furniture I'm going to need a gun. But how often does that really happen? I looked it up in case one wonders. It's about 500,000 times per year in the US. So, that's about the population of my metro area, and one-tenth of one percent of the country. And I also noticed that the FBI (I know, socialist government) has stated that a gun in the home is 6 times more likely to be used against the homeowner than on a criminal. I'm guessing everyone with a gun at home responds with "oh, but not me, I'm careful." Well I can tell you straight away that I'm NOT careful, I already know this about myself. So I would be in the 5. Therefore, no gun.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Berkley: There Was No Way to Prepare For You

I re-read Courtney's baby blog from the beginning the other day, and that little exercise made me realize how utterly clueless we both were about the whole parenting process.

I should go ahead and qualify that we have a pretty great kid as far as "ease of use" goes. He sleeps all night almost every night and he's done it since he was very small. He likes his bed so he'll sit in there and play for at least an hour after waking up. He eats most of what we give him. He only went through a very short spell of crying for no reason (well, it was evening, I suppose he liked daytime). He will go places the majority of the time without it being a hassle. All in all, if we stick to some semblance of "the routine," he's a happy kid.

But, it's still at least 5 times harder than I thought it was going to be, and there was nothing anyone could say to prepare me. I'm convinced you just have to live it, and if you're not happy with the changes that are coming up you're really toast. Let me list out the general changes now that we're 18 months in.

1) You cannot go wherever you want, whenever you want. The baby needs to be on a schedule and therefore you are on a schedule.
2) Most everything just got twice as expensive, except going out at night, because you don't nearly as often. So for instance, if you get a babysitter, that's about $8-10/hour, so for even a simple dinner date add $20-40 to the tab. Plus, babysitters eat.
3) Diapers disappear at a rate that would confound any logical human being. We received quite a few diapers at showers, but now that Berkley is up into the 2-3-4 sizes, we are on our own. Berkley wears Huggies or Pampers, which run somewhere between $0.25 and $0.30 per diaper. This can be cut back by buying value brand diapers. But, you'll be holding a wet baby, and said wet baby will wake up due to being wet. So, quick math says you're looking at an additional bill of $2000 for simply keeping baby clean.
4) Baby has to be fed, so let's not forget that little added expense. $25 a week (and growing in quantity and price) is formula. Of course one can breastfeed, but there is a common myth that this is free. Totally not free. Gotta have a pump, gotta get bottles so baby can feed, gotta buy containers to store extra milk. Momma has to eat more because she's still feeding two. Count on an extra $1500-$2000 in year one for food, and it only grows after that unless you feed the toddler mac and cheese every day (which would make everyone in our house very happy, because mac and cheese is pretty great.)
5) For those who are easily frustrated, or don't like unexplained circumstances, prepare to have your mind blown. Babies cry, get sick, complain, trash things, and then give you an occasional hug. There is little rhyme or reason, and everyone just puts up with it because what can you do? The baby can't tell you what's up for like 3 more years.
6) Even if you try very hard to keep an "adult looking" home, baby stuff is always everywhere, and it's brightly colored and generally makes turns your formerly well decorated house into PeeWee's Playhouse. There is no escaping, especially once the toddler starts REALLY playing.
7) You forget all of the adult music you know, and songs from kiddie shows are stuck in your head forever. "JACK'S BIG MUSIC SHOOOOOOOW..." These songs clearly have crack in them.
8) Once you get the baby to bed, you are often so tired that any chance of romance or doing something adult-oriented are history. You just want to lie on the couch and stare at Discovery Channel's latest pseudo reality show until you fall asleep.

This list could go on and on, but just know if you're having a kid. You need to love kids, and playing with kids, and acting like a kid, because that's what is coming. And if you wanted to do other things, it's generally impossible due to cost and the schedule.

All in all, it's totally worth it for the hugs.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dear Berkley: Other Kids Are Stupid Anyway, So Its Okay If You Don't Play With Them

Berkley isn't big on playing with other kids. His mother is convinced something is "wrong" with him and we must put him in school asap in order to rectify this situation.

Berkley - I've been watching the other kids and they're not real bright. Stay away from them for a bit longer and stay smart. Thanks, Daddy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear Berkley: If You Will Go Back To Sleeping All Night, I'll Buy You a Cool Car When You Turn 16

The last couple of nights Berkley has decided to wake up screaming at about midnight. This is new. And while I do like these times because they involve lots of hugging, they must end and end now.

The first night he seemed to be in some sort of legitimate abdominal pain. We resisted the urge to rush to the hospital and have him tested for stomach cancer, but this didn't mean he instantly went back to sleep. Instead, after taking several laps around the house, rocking in the chair, and growing a steady migraine from the 30 minutes of screaming, I decided to throw in the towel.

By throw in the towel I mean I just took him into our bed, and sort of half rocked, half laid down and hugged him. He stopped the screaming, but I'm pretty sure it was because whatever ailed him calmed down. I don't claim magical baby-crying-stoppage powers.

Unfortunately, he also woke up pretty good in this process, and the rock, then back to bed trick wasn't going to happen. Being the disciplinarian, straight-laced, steady as a rock dad I am, I turned on the bedroom tv so he and I would watch. Much success!

He instantly started smiling, and flipped around so he could watch Toy Story (it just happened to be on at midnight and was a big hit with Berk. (Oh, thank you Disney Kids channel, I'll stay in the park when we bring Berkley there later, throw a few extra bones your way).

As he laid there on his belly, kicking his feet with happiness while he watched the TV, I was excited about how he's growing up and doing more "little boy" stuff. But not nearly as excited as I was when Courtney finally took him back to bed, and he slept the rest of the night.

But that was a Saturday night and I didn't have to work the next day. Last night, he repeated the behavior, but quit screaming as soon as Courtney got him up. We kept the up time very short, no TV just hugs, and he did peacefully go back to bed.

If this keeps up I will sell him, or trade him on Craig's List for a Char Griller dual fuel grill with side smoker box, which I have really been wanting. Let me know if you spot a good sale on Char Grillers, it may keep Berkley in the family.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dear Berkley: When You Scream Like A Little Girl, God Kills a Puppy

As Berkley continues to develop a personality and exert his independence with said personality, Courtney and I have both reveled in watching him become more of a real person, and less of a eating, pooping, sleeping machine. Unfortunately, this has recently come with a bit of... high-pitched-screaming-like-his-feet-are-fire-for-no- apparant-reason.

Happy? Why not scream about it?
Didn't get something you want? How about trying to lay on the floor and scream while Momma and I go about our business as if you don't exist.
Hey, you tired? Hungry? I've got an idea, you should scream about it.

As you scream, Daddy will be over here wondering if the doctor would report us for putting one of those collars that keep dogs from barking around your leg.

So, if you're thinking of having kids and can't wait until they can talk to you, just remember, that additional vocal dexterity goes both ways. Equally as sweet as the "Da-dy" you hear first thing in the morning when you get him out of bed is the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard scream of an 18 month old trying to say "Hey mfer, did you not see that was Yo Gabba is on TV? GO BACK!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Berkley: This is Where Daddy Works, and My Mamma Sent Me to Regular Preschool

Today I got to get Berkley up and play with him for an hour or so while Courtney went to register him for pre-school. That got me thinking, and now here's the Blog post.

I should admin that I was a pretty terrible student. I always did whatever I needed to in order to get by. I wasn't terribly focused in the classroom. I mostly wanted to play sports. Fortunately, school seemed geared for the kids who needed a little more coaching, so this didn't exactly require any mental olympics until I was in college at Wake. There was that "Jet Math" class in 4th grade. Woot!

Yet, somehow, here I am today, contributing to society along with everyone else.

So I got to thinking: What difference does it make where Berkley goes to preschool?
So what if he doesn't learn to read until he's 5 or 6? Once you can read, you're in. There are no super-readers out there. You can read like an adult, or not so much.
Any who cares if he's not very good at coloring, or has a vocabulary that doesn't include "escheat" or "deleterious" when he's 16? Nobody I like uses those words in day to day conversation.

I went to the available preschool. I'm pretty sure my mom didn't search all over town for the very best 2 year old education she could find. Heck, I fell off of the same chair and busted my chin, TWICE. Must not have been Harvard Junior School.

Here's hoping Berkley is just fun to be around (like me), nice to people (like Courtney, NOT me), and is decent at something he enjoys. I find those a much better litmus test for future success than being a wonder kid mentally.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear Berkley: I Hope You Are Warm

Berkley has 12 coats. Twelve. That's one for every day of the week, and an additional 5 in the event we were to enter the next Ice Age.

I was trolling through the house this weekend, picking up after he so gracefully threw all of his toys all over the downstairs of the house and then threw anything he could find upstairs off of the balcony. (Don't feel sorry for me, Courtney does this more than once a day I'm told). Anyhow, I was picking up, and I started gathering his clothes too. I picked up a brown corduroy coat that makes Berkley look like a frat star. I picked up a blue and red striped zippered hoodie that makes Berkley look like a track star. I picked up TWO fleece jackets. He's fleeced out.

Then after the nap I went to hang them up in his closet and BANG, the coats just kept coming. I was astonished. At Christmas there was a coat drive for kids downtown. My kid has 12 he will grow out of in the next 6 months.

Welcome to America.