Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My Anti-Christmas Toy

Here's a toy I do not plan to get Sophie for Christmas:

And in case you didn't look at the reviews in Amazon, someone purchased it, and was disappointed with the complete lack of realism. (Thanks Pewari!)

Welcome to Pewari's Prattle!

I have another renter for my blog, and this week it's none other than Pewari Naan of Pewari's Prattle! That's right, yet another UK blogger - perhaps it's the connection with Bonjela.

I know I turn over my tenants rather quickly, so hurry and check out her blog! She's the at-home mother of two adorable children, Akra Jr and Li'l Bahji. They're all pseudonyms, but I'm not sure how close Pewari is to her real name (I think my pseudonym would be my real name backwards or something un-creative like that).

Check her blog out, she's been blogging since before her younger one was conceived (although I haven't seen that entry)!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Steal the Best, Forget the Rest

I got this from Betsy's cousin (thanks Lisa!) - it's an email sent to her from her husband about their daughter one morning - she (Heather) was four at the time:

From: xxxxxxxxx, Randy
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2003 12:29 PM
To: xxxxxxxxx, Lisa
Subject: Heather's am performance

FYI...story time for tonight has been revoked as a result of her "unsportsmanslike conduct" after mommy left this morning.

Attached is top 10 list reasons for losing story time this morning...
10. Excessive requests for saying goodbye to mommy.
9. Refusal to calm down in lieu of not getting to say good bye to mommy for the fifth or sixth time.
8. Pulling off the "Pony Tail" and demanding that mommy put it in again.
7. Refusal to put on coat in lieu of not getting new pony tail.
6. Excessive screaming in frustration of not getting one's way.
5. Telling Dad "no".
4. Removing safety harness straps from shoulders enroute.
3. Causing dad to "pull over" enroute.
2. Screaming "I forgot to bring the bunny" in lieu of reasons 5-10.
and the number one reason....
1. "Pissing Dad Off"

Following the cooling off period, she was asked if she understood why story time was revoked to which she responded....... "yes...because I was crying".

I did fix a few spelling mistakes, which I suspect were caused by Randy's state of mind at the time.

Note to self: Keep Sophie's & Maggie's hair short. At the rate that it currently grows, this should not be a problem.

Monday, November 28, 2005

They grow up so fast....

I'm starting to go through parent shock ... times two.

Maggie actually smiled at me the other day. And this time it wasn't because she was making me a gift in her diaper. I verified it the only way I know how - I tickled her under her chin (which works on her sister and mother), and got another smile. It was that goofy ear to ear grin that you can make only when you have no teeth in you mouth. I'll be making that grin in about 30 years or so if I'm lucky.

Sophie is sprouting up too - her vocabulary and ability to put together sentences cracks me up all day long. She is constantly telling me what to do, "Daddy, off the bed!" "Daddy, play on shoulders!" "Daddy, play sleep under da covers!" I have no idea what I'll do once her sister starts talking. Then I'll have three women telling me what to do. I don't even have a workshop to go hide in.

I think I'll follow the lead of another guy in the neighborhood (thanks Bob) - go grocery shopping. It's going to become the new haven for city guys without basements. We'll meet up in the dog food aisle and hang out for a few hours. Then we'll return back home with a box of cheez-its and some ice cream, claiming "Boy, the lines were incredible! People were flocking there like it was the blizzard of '78!"

The other thing I have started to do is take Sophie on little neighborhood trips - the most recent one was to the library, which consisted of her running up to a book shelf, pulling out a random book, exclaiming, "How about this one?" She then threw the book done, ran to another shelf, and started again. I am running after her, vainly trying to reshelf the books (yes, I know the signs say not to, but I am not going to get thrown of yet another library for excessive book pulling). Then we ride the elevator and go home.

I'm starting to read about the next phase of toddler development - potty training. From what I have read, it involves lots of stickers, lots of wipes, and lots of extra changes of clothes. I'm looking forward to it. Really. Of course, first I have to make a trip to the grocery store.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkey Day in Charlestown

With today being Thanksgiving, it reminded me of so many Thanksgivings past.....

When I was young, we would have Thanksgiving at my Grandmother's house....the table stretched from one end of the dining through the other end of the living room (she had 8 children, plus all the grandkids, plus some cousins). Of course, the kids sat at the kids "table", which was the far end of the table (the furthest from the kitchen). We ended up at the mismatched chairs, jammed up against the random card tables slid together. My family were always the "late" people, which was a double curse since we always brought the crudite (a fancy word for cold vegetables, usually bought at the last minute and thrown together as we were rushing out the door). That incurred the evil eye and disapproving comments from my grandmother, who wanted everyone to be on time.

Later, we would all sit down to the (dry) turkey, slathered with gravy, with stuffing piled on top. Down at our end of the table, we never ended up with any of stuffing from the bird, but instead the basic stuff which was used to ensure that everyone had enough.

After dessert (which included yummy banana cream pie), we would all sit down to watch the game on the TV, which was one of the first remote control TVs ever. It was controlled by a real "clicker", where the "click" caused the channels to turn. I'll always remember the "Click..Clack" of the remote and the TV knob turning.

I've also had the saddest Thanksgiving ever, and it involved "Turkey Loaf". But that's a story for another day.

This Thanksgiving we have our own little tradition. Since Betsy & I are both from the Midwest, we don't need to break out the card tables or the extra large bird. Instead we have other "orphans" over for dinner. Betsy's "cousin" John, who is from the next town over in Ohio is our family. Aurelie & Thomas, who are from France (and have no family here) are welcome guests. They promised to bring over some apple pie, but she mentioned making it "Normandy style", so I'll bet it means it'll be a little fancier than the pie grandma used to make.

Part of Thanksgiving is giving here's the short list: Two healthy and (for the most part) happy kids, a beautiful wife (who is also an excellent mother), our nice warm house, our family and friends, and a turkey that fits in our oven. I'll get back to you on the stuffing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Welcome to Motoki Log!

The newest tenant for "Rent My Blog" is Motoki's Log, a fascinating story about a little boy who was born three months early...his birth weight was 14 ounces! He's now almost 17 months old (based on birth date), and is growing like a weed.

Check out his blog!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

It's the Music, Man

Sophie has reached that key milestone...she is now capable of keeping up with her dad in one respect - singing off key. It's something that I've been really working on, and we're finally getting results.

It started with "Bite-A, Bite-A, Bite-A", which was a song that Sophie started singing over and over (and over) again. It took me a while to find out what it was...a Spanish song that the kids learned in music class, which goes something like "Donna Freda baile, baile baile baile"...which translates into Mrs Freda dances, dances dances dances. Of course, I am no help at teaching the song, or helping her to sing it. Instead, I have to depend on the Music Man to handle that for me.

About the Music Man
Sophie used to be in some hippy music class called Music for Aardvarks run over at the Charlestown Working Theater. They sang songs about how great it is to live in New York, and saying hello to kids named Blanche. These classes ran about $30 per session for a ten week class. We loved our Sunshine, and wanted to make sure she didn't miss out on music.

Along came the Music Man. He was willing to play music in someone's house for $15/kid for each session, and you could show up (or not) and it was no big deal. Yes, you guessed it - Sophie became a "Music for Aardvarks" dropout. She now learns songs from the Music Man.

I have to admit, though, it seems like a good gig. He shows up for an hour, collecting $15/head under the table, and just plays the guitar. He claims to have a girlfriend, but he enjoys singing falsetto a little too much, if you know what I'm sayin'.

Of course, he seems to be working it a little too. One week when I was home I attended the class held in our house (it rotates each week). At the end, everyone was pulling out tens and fives to give to him. Right at the end a nanny came up to him and said, "Sorry, I don't have any change, do you have change for a twenty?" His response: "No, not here, but I have money in my car. Why don't you come out there and I'll get it for you."

OK, what's wrong here?

Anyone that lives, works, or even just parks in Charlestown knows rule #1: Never leave any money in your car. Rule #2 is if you violate Rule #1, make sure that you leave nothing more than change and old NH toll tokens. Music Man violated both rules....or so he said. I suspect it was a slick ploy to get a little one-on-one time with the nanny. Pretty smooth.

So now Sophie's expanded her musical repitoire, and now includes such classics as:
"A B C D H J L P S T"
"Fi Fo Kitchen Dinah"
"Wheel on the bus go ound and ound"
"Right foot In, Turn about"
"I Love You, Ella Ella Moss" - Barney didn't know he was teaching young girls to show such affection to each other

Of course, she has also learned more "popular" music:
"Round and Round" - Yes, that classic song by Ratt, which I think I taught her
"I'll Tumble For You" - Another one that I taught her on the way to Gymnastics
"Get Down Tonight" - OK, I had the 80's CD in the car, sue me.
"I Know What Boys Like" - Well, at least it's something she'll put to good use

I have seen postings from other Dad Bloggers talking about how they teach music to their kids - usually it's modern classics like Sgt Peppers or Mozart or even Free To Be, You and Me (I still think fondly of those Garanimal days). When Sophie was in utero, we played Baby Mozart and Miles Davis. I don't know how much it really helped, because she still prefers New Wave. Oh well, there's always #2.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Keeping up made easy

Do you like to read about what's going on here? Do you get annoyed that you have to visit the website every time to see if I've posted anything new? Fret not, dear reader (all ten of you)!

There two easy ways to keep abreast (no feeding pun intended) with what's going on over here!

1) Sign up for email updates:

This is through FeedBlitz, and is a spam-free way to keep up just by checking your email!

2) Use an RSS reader:
This is a little more involved, and you should use this if you're keeping up with more than a handful of blogs. I use a site called BlogLines, which allows you to combine all your blogs into one place, and will alert you when a blog has a new entry! Once you have an RSS reader set up, just click here to add The Sweet Stuff!

For more info on RSS readers, check out this article.

If this makes no sense, tell was written on three hours of sleep.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

HNT #3

This is what I see when I am awakened at 2AM by Maggie Moonbeam and her need for the late-night feeding. Luckily this time my feet hit the floor first.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bring along your baggage

Metrodad wrote the other day the struggle he had about going on a fun-filled trip to Europe without his daughter. Like any good parent, he missed her terribly while he was gone, and swore that he would never leave her side again (OK, I'm stretching the truth on that part).

Watch what you blog, MetroDad....that commitment may come back to haunt you!

We have taken Sophie on all of our trips, including two trips to Europe and countless visits to our homeland, the Midwest (aka "Flyover States"). I think we've had enough experience and learning to be seasoned parental travelers. After all that first-hand knowledge, we've decided to never travel again.

Just kidding....but not really.

What does a major trip with toddler in tow entail?

1) Pack a bag for just the trip. Pack enough diapers so you're not caught midflight (or midconnection) without any. You ever notice those cute shops in the airport? Ever see any diapers sold in them, let alone the Huggies LeakProof uber-absorbant ones (in size 4)? Same goes for food - you can scavenge only so many bar pretzels.

2) Don't fall for the early check-in scam. Those airlines are so nice. They allow early check-in for people with kids. Here's what happens - you end up getting on the plane first, heading back to your cramped seat (where the three of you fit into two seats), and wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait while every other seat in the plane fills up. Wait until that guy that always runs onto the plane the last minute gets there. You know, toddlers love nothing more than waiting. That's really what they're known for.

3) Don't forget the toys. You always need to bring something to entertain while you're stuck in the flying aluminum tube, but it can't be too loud, big, or round. If you think losing a ball in the car is tough, just wait until that ball drops under the seat and rolls up to aisle 12, Seat J. And remember, don't shoot your load too early by breaking out the toys before takeoff. You've got about 0.1% of all of her toys selected for the flight (asking of course which ones she'd like to bring), and 1/2 of them will no longer be interesting when you get them out.

4) Got Milk? Airlines don't have milk on the planes. We found this out the hard way. Before she gave up the bahbah, we needed the equivalent of 1.2 cows along in order to statisfy Sophie's milk fix.

5) Jet's not just for adults. We all know about jet lag, except it's a tough concept to explain to kids, especially when you have a tough enough time getting them on a sleep schedule in the first place. The only upside of this was that on our last trip we went to Italy, where a toddler going to bed at midnight raises no (thick) eyebrows.

6) How do you say "diapers" in french? Unless you plan on bringing a U-Haul along on your trip, you will need to buy supplies while on your trip. Even when we were in the UK (a more-or-less English speaking country), it took us an hour to figure out which baby formula was right for our sunshine. The labels made no sense, there was "first milk" and "second milk", formula for "hungry babies", etc etc etc.

I remember the days of traveling to Europe with nothing but a backpack and a guidebook. Those days are over, much like the days of chugging a funnel full of beer, and staying up all night. Well, two out of three.

Update 11/17 - I didn't realize what a popular topic this is....Dutch at Sweet Juniper had some similar comments, and mentioned one in particular that I forgot - grabbing the aisle & Window seats to "box out" the middle seat for the little one. It's a sweet move, especially if you have a "baby in the bucket".

Friday, November 11, 2005

Welcome to Francesca!

This week's blog renter is Francesca of "My Name is Francesca" (over in Wales, UK). Be sure to check out her blog, where she covers the trials and tribulations of being a mother of a very busy two year old. I know Sophie appreciates a child who loves curry like Noah does! Yumm!

She also talks about how all the blogs she reads are about sex...hmmm, what search terms are you using, Fran? I know I'm not finding that many, not that I'm looking or anything, er, umm...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

No HNT today

Yes, I know. I suck. I will have a new one next week.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hail the Night Nurses!

The first few months of Sophie's life were really tough for us - she wasn't sleeping, we weren't sleeping, and as I've mentioned before, sleep is important! So, with Maggie's arrival, we knew that we couldn't just hope for the best as far as sleep went. We were going to need help. Since both our families live hundreds of miles away, we would have to "outsource" it.

Betsy took the initiative, and found two nurses who could stay overnight and take care of Maggie. How? Did she use an outside service, one that prescreened candidates and made sure they were worthy of the job? No....she went through craigslist, that earthy-cunchy classified ads website better known for listing broken toasters and counterfeit Red Sox tickets.

She waded through the responses and found someone who also had a friend who needed some extra hours. I don't know how Betsy did it, but we got really lucky with Marianna and Lesley. They take great care of Maggie and Sophie, and give us the chance to get a full nights sleep two (or three) times per week. They're not just night nurses, not just babysitters....I guess they're special members of Team Patrick working on Operation Maggs.

The best thing I have been able to do over the last several weeks is pop some Ambien and turn off the monitor, knowing that we have lefty Maggie in skilled hands. Marianna and Lesley are helpful not just at night, but also during the day. I suspect that they like taking care of Sophie, since it gives them an excuse to go on the boat into town and walk through Fanueil Hall.

To give you an idea of how much a party of our family they have become, they were the only two non-family member invited to Maggie's baptism. In addition, before one of Lesley's dates, she had the guy pick her up at our house - we had the opportunity to meet him before her own parents did. It was also a good chance for me to work on my "bad-boy sense" to weed out the rotten ones. I think I still need to work on it, since I didn't pick up any bad vibes with this one.

While they are very professional, and take excellent care of our two little ones, I didn't want you to think that they were boring, stay-at-home types. So I also grabbed a photo from one of their recent nights off...down at the Redline in Cambridge. You go girls!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

It's a Famdemic

That's right - the whole family has been knocked low. I blame the flu shots, but then again, I believe in Intelligent Design.

I probably caught it from someone at work, and wanted to share my gift with the family. So far we've gone thrugh a half dozen boxes of tissues, a few bottles of cold medicine, and a jar of honey (for that nasty sore throat).

The only good news is we're not alone:

Bean's dad is dealing with the same thing I am - how do you teach a toddler how to blow through her nose? When I say blow, she just blows through her mouth like the kleenex is a birthday candle.

Laid-Off Dad also has gone through the House of Pox, where phlegm is considered one of the four food groups. Of course, no sick family is complete without the scary hospital visit.

Eric over at More Diapers has been dealing with his famdemic (OK, I stole the word from him - if you can't be creative, steal the good stuff), so it seems like Massachusetts has not been spared.

And that was just the Daddy Blogs that I read. It looks like the chicken flu will be with us all season.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

HNT #2

OK, this is a scar...but it does come with a story.

Get into the "Way Back Machine" to the year 1990. America has just finished helping Iraq defend itself against the evil Iranian ayatollahs. Computers are a bargain at $2,500.

I went out on Saturday, a night of drinking, clubbing, more drinking, and going home alone. In my drunken stupor, I noticed my urine color was a Nothing too troublesome, at least when your BAC is 15+.

The next day I wake up, and my back hurts. Once again, given my nighttime activities, nothing too surprising. I figured if I just slept it off, had some coffee and a hot shower, it would all work out.

I knew I should get to the hospital, but I couldn't get hold of anyone - my roommates were all gone, I called a few friends who weren't around (in fact I left a grunting message on one machine that was replayed for the next two years), and even my neighbors in the apartment building weren't there. Screw it - I can drive to the hospital myself. I don't need any help.

I get to Somerville Hospital, where I get to wait in the emergency room with ODs, gunshot victims, and people with random gaping wounds. Needless to say, since I wasn't bleeding, I was a low priority. I ended up waiting for several hours in incredible pain - I was laying on the middle of the floor in the emergency room, writhing like a fish who's been pulled on deck.

Finally two little old ladies took pity on me and harassed the admitting nurse until they took me in. The nurse even said, "We just pulled you back here because those two old ladies wouldn't shut up".

To kill the pain they gave me a shot of morphine. Ahhh, sweet drugs. Of course, it didn't take right away, but at least I knew salvation was in the future.

"OK Mr Patrick, now we need you to pee in this cup." Those dreaded words. Peeing on command is tough enough, but I had nothing to drink all day, and was in back-doubling pain. I could barely concentrate on breathing, let alone draining the bladder.

"Well, Mr Patrick, we need you to pee in this cup - here have a cup of water to help you out." Here goes....water down....and the pain...throw it back up. Crap. I can't even drink water to help make water. Come on, people.

"Hmmm, Mr. Patrick, if you don't pee, we'll have to get a catheter." - Horrors! Anything but the catheter! If I wasn't running around in a johnny, I would have left and taken my chances on the outside.

Luckily, the morphine was kicking in, and it loosened the muscles enough that I could given them their precious liquid gold. It confirmed what they thought - I had a kidney stone. Being young and dumb, I didn't really know what that meant. "Well, imagine a rock working its way down your'll have to pee it out." Crap. I didn't like how this was going to turn out.

They were ready to discharge me, and so they told me I needed to pee into a special cup with a filter for the next several days - the filter would capture any part of the stone (Why? So they could put it in some kind of kidney stone mosaic they were making?). No problem, I said - morphine is a wonderful thing.

They wouldn't let me drive home hopped up on drugs, so I walked back to my apartment. I then regaled my neighbors with the story, impressing the ladies with my tales of pain and crying like a baby when they threatened the catheter (well, I didn't really cry, but I wanted to).

I went back to my apartment, ready to finish up the evening with a much needed draining of the dragon. Damn. I forgot the contraption that I had to have to capture my stone. That's OK, I watch MacGyver. You can make anything out of anything. I figured a plastic cup and a coffee filter could do the trick just as well. All I had to do was make a hole in the bottom of the cup so that the pee would drain.

OK, here's the filter, here's the's the exacto blade to cut it. One slice slice there-auuuuuugh! I cut my hand! Thanks to sweet morphine, I didn't panic - even with blood spurting all over the kitchen. I quickly wrapped it in towels (multiple since it was bleeding pretty badly).

I was amused by the show of blood enough that I wrote "PIG" on the wall in blood. Looking back, that was a little disturbing, but I guess I found the humor in the situation.

So here I am, hand wrapped in a bloody towel. I know one thing - I am NOT going back to that hospital. I've already spent most of the day there, I'm not going to spend most of the night! So instead, I wrap my hand in as much gauze and bandage as I can find. I have it elevated (so the bleeding slows), and sleep with my arm suspended above my head.

The next day, I went back to the hospital for an appointment - I guess they wanted to see if I had passed the stone. The attending was shocked. "Why the Hell didn't you come in last night? You sliced your hand open!" "Umm, I had just left the hospital. I thought I would look pretty stupid if I came back an hour later."

He told me I was lucky - it looked like the cut was clean (I guess I hadn't been using the exacto on any unsanitary items), and I had not cut any tendons, so I was going to be able to use my hand. Of course, he said, it was too late to sew it up for a scarless recovery. He put a new (and less amateur looking) bandage, gave me a shot (to protect against infection), and sent me on my way.

This scar reminds me of my 20s, when beer was cheap, and apparently, my life was too.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Obligatory Halloween Photo

Hey Ladies.....Has this ever happened to you? You go to a fancy dress-up party, and somebody there is wearing the exact same outfit! Doesn't that suck?

Sophie feels your pain.

Of course, she went the whole nine yards, wearing the pumpkin stem hat. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Welcome to Beanhead Babbles!

Here's a new renter for my space on Blog Explosion, Beanhead Babbles! This is a blog by a mother of three who also works and is a full time student. That more than enough for me!

Check out her post about the creepy conversation with another kids dad at the local WalMart!