Friday, August 29, 2008

Armistice

The War on Breastfeeding is finally over. It was a long war -- 5 months -- and there were many casualties, nearly all of them financial. In the end, we didn't so much lose the war as we simply agreed to stop fighting it. As I'm sure you can all guess, this was not a decision arrived at lightly by Hurricane Kitty, but luckily it doesn't mean the end of the breast pump. The only thing that she likes more than playing with her son is sitting in dark closets for 20 minutes at a time with a large vacuum attached to her chest while the people outside stare at the door and wonder what in God's name is going on in there.

I'm sure it would be tougher to let that go.

But now that it is over, we must direct our attention elsewhere. We must focus on the tools that we now must use to grow our boy up healthy and strong. I'm speaking, of course, of super fancy high-tech baby bottles and ridiculously expensive imported small-batch artisanal formulas.

When the Ninja was in his final stages of arrival, Kitty and I got in an argument on the depressing drive to Hell on Earth. Kitty was explaining about how, when we introduce the bottle, we would need to have several kinds available to ensure that we had one that Finn would take. I pondered that thought for about 3 seconds before declaring it "full of crap." "There are no differences between baby bottles," I exclaimed with absolutely zero knowledge on the subject. "It's just a jar with a nipple, why do we have to buy more than one kind?"

First off, I'm an idiot. Secondly, I had not yet learned about BPA and how it is guaranteed to kill your child within 30-seconds of it entering the house. Kitty knew both of those things already and we left Babies R Us seventeen hours later with two bottles: BPA-free Born Free and BPA-filled Dr. Brown's. Of course, Finn hated the Born Free. Turns out, this was OK because I loved the Dr. Brown's. There are so many parts! It's like you're putting together a model car 6 times a day! Unfortunately, there was the BPA.

I don't know how much you guys know about Seattle, but there are two things residents here excel at: looking down their noses at you and passive agression. I was afraid that if I were out in public, feeding Finn from a bottle with BPA, that legions of Seattleites would pedal their recumbent bicycles over, stop right next to us, and discuss with one another the risk that I was posing to my child while watching out of the corners of their eyes to make sure I could hear them. That on its own wouldn't bother me, but I'd be worried that they'd spill their half-caff non-fat triple grande lattes on the boy and I'm afraid their North Face jackets wouldn't clean that up very well.

So I did what I do best. I searched for the most expensive bottle I could find. With the BPA scare in full effect, BPA-free plastics and glass bottles are all the rage. I couldn't find a Dr. Brown's BPA-free bottle at the time, so I began my hunt for the Dr. Brown glass bottle. I probably would have had an easier time finding Nessie. These things were sold out all over the interwebs. Amazon.com had them for $50 a pop, when list price is only $15. If I was going to pull this off, I would have to rely on the most important skill that I learned in college.

Those of you that misspent your youth and young adulthood in the same way that I did are likely very good at this too. I'm speaking, of course, of scoring tickets to sold out shows. I can count on 1/2 of one hand how many concerts that I've been shut out of. Working the phones, while filling out my mail-order and simultaneously hitting refresh on my browser used to be old hat. The problem here is that unlike on-sale dates for concerts, none of the baby bottle sites would tell you when the bottles were coming back in stock. You had to wait for an email and jump right on them. I was 15 minutes late on the first email and 7 minutes late on the second and stock was sold out before I got there. It wasn't until the seventh email that I hit paydirt.

I've now succeeded in doing this twice, since I had forgotten that I had to buy bottles for daycare too. I had to give them my first score, because I certainly didn't want to look like a bad parent feeding my kid BPA.

I won't get into the formula bit here, since my fingers are bleeding from typing, but here's what my bottle setup looks like now. Pretty sweet, huh? Let me know if any of you want to come over and put some of these bad boys together. It's a good time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

5 Months Young

Happy Birthday Finn! You better enjoy these month birthdays while they last, because once you pass the year mark, you only get 1 per year and that's if you're lucky. Are you feeling lucky? Daddy usually steals the Aries show and now I have 2 of you I need to fete. Woe is me.

Here's Finn dwarfing his newborn girlfriend Layla. He's like, "Check me out baby, I'm HUGE, my feet were twice that size at birth!"


....and here is Finn's 5 month head shot. We think he is drooling at a 6 month level. Check out his "Blue Steel". How about next month we stop getting up at 5:00 AM every morning, huh?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Like father, not at all like son

The Ninja has fought the dreaded Coxsackie and has emerged victorious. In fact, watching Finn cruise his way through hand, foot & mouth disease, something became very apparent. My son is way tougher than I am. Even though his hands, feet and face were covered in angry little "beauty spots," he was for the most part still happy, smiling and laying waste to his bottles and porridge.

If I stub my toe, I complain about it for at least a day and a half. Loudly.

But I'm a wuss. Luckily the boy didn't catch that from me. He's apparently caught his mom's grit. This is clearly great news, as I don't think the house could have handled another crying baby. I've got that role nailed.

In other "baby disease" news, Scott & Jena hosted a "get my new baby as sick as possible, please" party this past weekend in honor of their new arrival, Layla. They called it an Open House, but I think my name is more on target. The entire gang and their ever expanding brood showed up. This was both sweet and sad. Sweet because it's always nice to meet a new baby. Sad because this is my social life now. We no longer discuss how we're going to score tickets to Phish in Vegas. We now discuss formula and whether you get a price break if you buy a case.


Here's a pic of Finn and his newly enlarged baby harem. I like his odds. Unfortunately, he's staring at Layla a little too transparently.

Finn, that's not good game. We'll need to work on that.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Worst. Ninjas. Ever.

Only in New Jersey:

Two “modern day Ninjas” calling themselves Shinobi Warriors on a quest to rid the area of drug users and drug dealers have been put out of business by police.

Tadieusz Tertkiewicz, 20 (left), and Jesse Trojaniak, 19

Officer before dawn yesterday approached a car parked in the left lane of Route 46 east and found two Clifton men dressed in black claiming to be Ninjas.

The men were wearing tactical vests and armed with knives in sheaths at their waists along with Ninja throwing knives, Chinese throwing stars, four-pointed tacks, swords, bows and arrows and nunchucks, said Detective Capt. Robert Rowan.

Jesse Trojaniak, 19, and Tadieusz Tertkiewicz, 20, told police they were “modern day Ninjas” also called Shinobi Warriors on their way to deliver warning letters to known drug dealers and drug users to stop their “impure” activities.

I'm pretty sure that Finn could have done a better job at ninja-ing than these guys, and he's four months old. Letters are for wussies. Ninjas don't write letters, they flip out and kill people. Everyone knows that.

Here's a pic of the real Ninja taking out a suspected milk dealer. She doesn't stand a chance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coxsackie

Life in the Parker house (a.k.a. Mudville) has been kind of dull lately, since we appear to be in between milestones. The boy is still rolling over (yawn), grabbing his feet (booooring) and laughing (I wonder if Quantum Leap is on?). So it was with great relief that we learned yesterday that Finn has hand, foot & mouth disease, which we shall refer to as Coxsackie. Why Coxsackie? Three reasons:
  1. It sounds dirty. In a bathroom humor kind of way. And I like that.
  2. Someone else already stole the other angle that I would have used to make the funny. I hate that.
  3. Plus, it's actually the name of the virus that causes hand, foot & mouth. Look it up. What are you waiting for? A link?
Anyway, as far as Coxsackie (now you say it) goes, it looks like we've got a mild case. His sores must not be bothering him too much, since he still has plenty of energy to shatter everything his idiot parents leave within his reach. We're keeping him doped up on Tylenol drops to manage the fussiness, so it's been relatively easy so far1. Of course, he is throwing up on me like I'm an IHOP waitress working the night shift in a college town.

Waiter. I mean IHOP waiter.

The plus side is that I was already planning on working from home yesterday, to help out our wonderful daycare providers who have just adopted an adorable little girl named Layla. This then gave me the opportunity to spare the rest of the daycare from the dreaded Coxsackie and to have the time to take Finn to the doctor.


Informed that he was not going to die from his affliction, he spent the day answering my emails with the poor grammar and clipped sentence structure befitting a true captain of industry. Since I couldn't get any good pictures of the boy's little happy-spots, due to poor lighting and an excess of vomit, here's a picture of him helping me work.


He looks real sick, doesn't he? Faker.


In other news, the Ninja got weighed again at the doctor and he had gained an astonishing 1 lb. in 10 days, thanks I suppose to the rice mush. 1 lb. in 10 days. We better get fatso on a diet ASAP.

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1 Jinx.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ninjas of the Caribbean

Anyone who knows anything about Ninjas knows that they really don't like pirates. So it was with great trepidation that we agreed to go out on Rob & Holly's new boat last weekend, not entirely sure that Finn wouldn't ruin the day by picking a fight with one of the Seafair Pirates on Lake Washington.

Luck was with us and we didn't sight a single Jolly Roger. We did, however, sight a hilarious little boy in a life vest. Doesn't he look pleased with the situation? Notice the convenient handle. That was really the selling point for the vest. That and the ducky.


We were initially concerned about bringing the boy out on the water, but we saw a video that totally erased any fear we had. We didn't get to test out his new techniques, but that's probably a good thing. We'll save those moves for the next pool party we're invited to. That trick will make us the hit of the party for sure. Push. Splash. Awesome.

Any day on the water is a good day. It was overcast (because it is Seattle, after all), but that just meant we had the whole lake to ourselves and we didn't have to worry about frying our little albino sailor. Finn didn't look entirely comfortable in the life jacket, but that might have been Uncle Rob's driving.

We'll have to try again next weekend just to make sure.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Episode 3: Nosh with the Finns

Sorry it has taken me a while to get out part 3 of our North East adventure but a head cold got the better of me last week, and everybody loves a summer cold. N’uf said.

We last left off with the Parker family wedding. My Mom and my 12 yr old niece Caroline were with us in MA babysitting, which allowed Woody and I to celebrate the wedding in style1. Thanks Mema and Caroline! On Sunday after the brunch we were all headed back to CT to see the Finn clan. After a quick stop for beer and wine before we crossed the border, Woody roared us off to CT barely containing his glee at being amongst aggressive, cutthroat drivers again.

My nephew Sam met us at the car when we pulled up to my oldest sister Kelly’s house in West Hartford, CT. He had been waiting a long 4 months to meet his first and only cousin. Sam has made it his lifelong goal to annoy his sister Caroline and he was more than ready to recruit some new blood for his cause. Kelly has been providing us with updates on his excitement over the fact that Finn turned out to be a boy (bonus) and how he is planning to teach him all his tricks, “but if he steals my act, then he’s out” Sam warns. Below is the letter Sam wrote to Finn in anticipation of his arrival.


Finn’s middle name is “David” in memory and honor of Sam’s and Caroline’s Dad. Now from what I hear, David was quite the troublemaker himself when he was young, so we all better watch out for Sam and Finn in the future. I think we all figured Sam would be bored with Finn once he realized that he doesn’t do much yet, but he surprised us all by wanting to be wherever Finn was, even holding the monitor during his naps and keeping us updated on his status. With Sam on watch we could relax into our wine and beers and enjoy some QT with the Finn Fam.

Caroline, who I like to call my “mini me,” was the perfect babysitter. At 12 she really has been waiting a long time for a cousin and she made sure to tell Finn how cute he was every chance she got. The kid likes compliments, just like his Mommy.



Some notable highlights were Finn experiencing his first thunderstorm with Kelly and Brian on the veranda (he actually may have been napping but we were psyched!) and some quality pool time at Mema’s. With only 5 days of summer in Seattle we seize any and all chances to frolic in the water. Finn got to go in up to his knees and dive off the high dive but that's where we drew the line.



Another highlight was Finn’s fancy dinner with Big Finn (Grandpa). We expected a meltdown with the time change and the late hour, but Finnja was enthralled with Grandpa Finn. He was anxious to start training Finn in the art of, well, being a Finn. Trust me there is a lot to learn but it's mostly "on the job training". Finnja excelled; he charmed the pregnant waitress and even offered to pay the tab, but his Baby Amex black card was declined. We think he discovered online gambling. Just try to take that toy away from him. Trust me no one will sleep, just like in Vegas.


One really cool thing I've noticed about delivering a Grandkid is that you get to see your own parents with your baby and get a glimpse into how they were with you. Not to get all sappy but that really is a sweet thing to see. When Mema took Finn off the car roof where he had been strapped and his hair was all mussed up, she cooed and sang to him as she patted his fauxhawk down. I just melted. Just kidding Child Services, just making a funny. The trip was great, but too short as always. Luckily babies change at lightning speed so my family got to see Finn discover his feet. I suspect he was taking advantage of being out of his bulkier cloth diapers and into his streamlined disposable travel diapers.



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1 My favorite reception moment had to be when Woody dropped me on the dance floor. Luckily no one saw it, except for, gee, the nice older couple sitting with us at brunch the next day. Oh right, that’s where that bruise on my foot came from. Luckily there were mimosas. Nobody puts Kitty in the corner!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Please sir, can I have s'more?

We took the Ninja to the doctor for his 4-month check up last Friday. This was a milestone visit, as we were eagerly anticipating the green light to move on to solid foods. The boy is still a wee bit on the skinny side (shocking, given his parents' combined weight of 47 lbs), so we were eager to bulk him up with some burgers or Tat'stramis. Plus, we figured the extra food couldn't hurt his sleeping.

I had heard that rice cereal was typically the first solid food, but I was totally bummed to learn that rice cereal does not mean Cocoa Crispies. It doesn't even mean Rice Crispies. This crap isn't crispy at all. It's Rice Mushies. I feel like we're feeding Oliver Twist.

I guess I need to come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to be able to order pizza with the boy for a while. This is a tough realization to come to, on account of the fact that I built that kid with the express purpose of having someone to share food with, since Kitty has a broken cheesy/wheaty-bone.

Of course, the boy has had the sniffles for almost a month now, so it's starting to seem like he might be all allergic like his mommy. What if he can't eat pizza? Or nutritious McDonald's Chicken Selects with delicious Spicy Buffalo Sauce?

I don't even want to think about that.

Here's Finn enjoying his very first solid meal. I think it's safe to say from the look on his face that he would rather be eating pizza.


On another note, we got our first real, legitimate laughs from the mouth of the boy tonight. They came when Mommy was trying to put him down for bed, but of course that didn't stop me from running up there in an attempt to get him all riled up with more laughing.

As a result, Mommy's still trying to put him to bed.

Bad Daddy. Bad.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pass the cold, please

This past week has been very snotty for the Parker household. For the last month we've been perfecting a new game called Pass the Cold and last Monday we got really good at it. I had always heard that daycare was going to turn our house into a petri dish, but I didn't expect that it would start on Day 1.

Of course, it doesn't help that the Ninja's latest move is "Put it in My Mouth." He's not all that great at grabbing stuff, mostly because he still operates his hands like a possessed televangelist, but when he does get a hold of something, you better believe that it's going in his mouth.

To try to counter the crap he's inhaling, we've started bathing him more. Which isn't hard, considering that we used to only wash him about once a quarter. He didn't used to like it so much. Lately, however, he's really taken a shining to it.

Behold the Ninja as he discovers splashing. I recommend putting on a slicker before clicking Play.


video

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hey man, you got a binky?

... It'd be a lot cooler if you did.

Finn channels Slater:


This explains everything. The hunger. The laziness. The conspiracy theories about mind-control formula.

Forget daycare, we need to get this kid to rehab.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hose the nose

For the last month or so, the Ninja has been dealing with a stuffed up nose. He's got abnormally small nose-holes, so any snot at all makes him sound like Randy eating dinner every time he breathes. To help alleviate his congestion, we've implemented a strict regimen of nasal spray and nasal bulb syringe therapy.

Incidentally, if you clicked that last link, I think you should know that the baby in the clip is really just a tiny little adult actor. There's no way any baby is going to take that kind of intrusion that well. At least, ours doesn't. Perhaps it's the lack of Kenny G's smooth sounds in our nursery, but the moment he sees me grab the nasal spray, he commences heartbreaking crying until I've successfully extracted the three pounds of snot from his tiny little nose.

Aside from the cries, it's oddly rewarding pulling that much crap out of his face. Unfortunately, it's hard to pat myself on the back while I'm bouncing around like an idiot trying to calm him back down.


Finn: If you ever read this blog, know that Daddy is very sorry for the discomfort that he caused you. Know also that it was all Mommy's idea.

In other news, the boy and the bluebird have broken up. Don't worry, he's getting over it with his new animal friend, Hootie. And by getting over it, I mean stuffing Hootie entirely in his mouth. Hootie seems OK with that part. Apparently only the Dolphins make him cry.



Saturday, August 2, 2008

Episode 2: Meet the Parkers

Travel issues aside, Finn was incredibly excited to meet those remaining family members that he had not yet had a chance to douse in bodily fluids. We had built our East Coast trip around my cousin Lee's wedding, so this was the perfect opportunity to hit everybody at once.

Upon arrival at JFK, the boy was immediately sucked out of our arms by Grandma Parker, the human baby vacuum. From that point on, I only saw him across the room and the only time I touched him was when his diaper needed cleaning. Funny how that works.

After what seemed like mere minutes relaxing at the grandparents' house, we were on the road to the wedding in Massachusetts, which means we were headed straight into the jaws of Red Sox Nation1. We had arranged for Mema Finn and Cousin Caroline to babysit at the wedding, so we were fully prepared for a Grandma on Grandma smackdown. Unfortunately, no blood was spilled and they were able to resolve their issues with snide comments and sidelong glances.

I kid, I kid. Everyone got along just fine. The Ninja Credits that everyone was issued dictated how long they could hold the baby and we were very strict about enforcing them. Grandparents need structure and it's the parents' job to provide that.

The weekend was full of firsts. It was the first plane ride and the first trip back East, but perhaps most important, it was the first time that Great-grandma Parker laid eyes on the Ninja. This is the first great-grandchild, which means he will inherit all of the family goats & cows, or something like that. It was also the first time that Great-aunt Judy and my cousins Lee, Roy & Parker (I would put their relationship to the Ninja here, but after considerable discussion, we have no idea what it is) got to hold the boy as well. Altogether, this means that we took an obscene amount of pictures. This is good, because my parents never took any pictures of me as a baby, no matter what they say, or what photographic proof they present to try and disprove that statement.

The one my father was pushing for the most was the four generation portrait. We have a similar shot of me as a baby, with my father, his mother and her father, so we were eager to add the next generation to the mix. Please disregard Finn's evil black eyes. I don't know if you've ever seen an undoctored picture of an infant, but their eyes are huge and red. I traded those in on some huge and dark black eyes, courtesy of red-eye reduction.


All in all, it was an amazing first part to our trip. The wedding was gorgeous2 and it was great to see all of the family that we hadn't seen in so long. As with all of our trips lately, it was over way too soon and before we knew it, we had to get back on the road. But not before taking a million more pictures, the cream of which can be seen here.

















Once our battery died and the memory card was full, it was off to CT for a recharge and to meet the rest of the Finns for which he was named.


To be continued...

_________________

1 I've got to admit, that is an extremely catchy name for a bandwagon. Nice job, ESPN.

2 Aside from the Yankees effigy hung in the foyer. Relax Red Sox fans, you don't need to try so hard any more. You're winners. Now it's time to learn how to show some class. But don't look at me. We Yankees fans haven't figured that one out yet either.

Friday, August 1, 2008

It was bound to happen

I suppose I should have expected this, but I don't think I could have ever prepared for it. There I was this morning, lying in bed and playing with the Ninja - my two favorite things to do in the world - when the inevitable happened. While I was playing SuperNinja and flying him over my head, he threw up in my open mouth.

And I swallowed it.

I knew that the formula that we've got him on smelled bad, and I've even tasted it briefly on occasion, but never like this. It made my tongue numb.

We need to get this kid on solid food. I would have much preferred pizza from the sky.