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.