Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stairway to Headwound

The War of the Grandmothers is in a cease-fire with Mema/GF/Grandma Finn's reluctant departure on Saturday. The votes have been tallied and the winner is...

Everybody! Shocking, right?

Finn wins with two G'ma visits in two months. The G'mas also win because the Ninja is so freakin' awesome. And of course, we win because we're
repeatedly told what an amazing child we have and what exceptional parents we are.

Not that we needed to be told.

It was a pleasure having the Grandmas here. Finn spent both weeks getting his pants spoiled off. Which is different than getting his pants spoiled - something that happens every two hours
regardless of where he happens to be. They all enjoyed the beautiful (and rarely so) Seattle fall weather with walks around town and he enjoyed the fact that they chased him around the house, most recently with GF on her hands and knees.

We enjoyed that too. How often is it that you can watch your own parents crawl around the floor squealing like idiots? Sean Preston and Jayden James Federline excepted, of course.

They both added ingenuity to the party - GP with her cheetah costume and GF with her ingenious baby toy inventions. Whereas we were content to continue buying toys and binkies at a rate sufficient to keep up with his tossing them from his stroller, GF immediately invented a super-fancy apparatus to tie his toys & pacifier to the stroller using some space-aged material called "shoo-laces". I had never heard of it either, so don't feel bad.

Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and tequila shots. GF did reprimand me for my handling of Finn's latest trick. Turns out the boy lurves the stairs. He can't get enough of them. I've certainly stoked this adoration by constantly helping him learn how to climb them. And he's awesome at it. He can handle two flights in under two minutes. He comes down them even more quickly, at a rate of a stair per second - on his head. Apparently, this is bad.

I was instructed that if I was going to encourage stair-climbing, I also had to teach the descent. I don't think so. That's Mom/Grandma work.

Here's a pic of the boy climbing like a champ. I'd show a picture of his return down, but I'm afraid the Dept of Social Services might use that as an excuse to visit and the house is very messy.


P.S. A
big shout-out to our faithful readers in St Helena. According to the size of the dot in our traffic map on the lower right of the blog homepage (here, for you email/RSS readers), most of the 4,250 inhabitants must be regular Fussy Ninja readers. Let me know if you guys think there's a market for t-shirts. I'll whip some up ASAP.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Great Unwashed (Toys)

Autumn arrived in earnest in Seattle this past weekend, as the magnolia tree in our front yard informed me by dropping all of its leaves in a 24-hour period. That meant that my Saturday was earmarked for raking -- one of my least favorite pastimes, as each magnolia leaf is as light and easy to rake as an encyclopedia. But given that it was a dry fall weekend, a relative rarity in the PNW, I was excited to get Finn gussied up in his little snowsuit that we bought down at the local secondhand store for some outdoor fun.

We had originally intended the snowsuit for the cabin this winter, in the event that we got some snow before the ski mountain opened, in which we could take him sledding. Judging by the fit of the suit, however, we have approximately 18-hours before he outgrows it. It better start snowing, stat.

I figured that if I was going to have to rake, Finn was going to be jumping in some leaves. Even if I had to throw him into them. The problem was that our front yard, where all the big leaves are, was still too wet and the magnolia leaves were like a big pile of mashed potatoes with a gravy that you didn't want to get anywhere near. That left our little dinky ghetto back yard. I cobbled together a pile of birch leaves, sticks and common household garbage and tossed in some Finn.

This picture's a little blurry, since he was listing heavily to starboard and was about to faceplant in a large twig and/or Big Gulp straw. It sure does look fun, though, doesn't it?

This past weekend also marked our introduction into full contact parenting -- i.e., toy shopping. Ever the conscientious hippies, we of course were focusing on second hand toys at the coolmom.org toy swap. For weeks, I had been complaining to Kitty that we didn't have enough scratched up toys with weird stains on them, so this was really her gift to me.

This place was insane. I was completely out of my league. It started at 9 AM and we showed up at 9:05 AM, only to watch the two toys that we had pre-agreed that we would go after heading out the door as we were going in. Five minutes into the event and the place was already picked clean. It was elbow to elbow with kids and parents scrambling to grab something, anything, just so they didn't leave empty handed.

Here's a picture from the West Seattle blog (including Kitty, Finn and Lisa), but it doesn't do the scene justice. When this was taken, I was outside splashing water on my face and checking my body for broken bones. We did score a 1950's phone, a little steering wheel and a Thomas the tank engine, along with some random shapes that don't seem to light-up, beep or blink, which is weird. It took about 2 hours of scrubbing with lye, but I think they're finally clean enough to go in his mouth. Which is the only destination these days.

Finn's Memaw / Grandma Finn arrived on Sunday for the latest salvo in the War of the Grandmas, so hopefully she'll be able to show the boy a better time than Mommy's crappy toy dash and Daddy's pile of dangerous garbage.

It won't be hard.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Everyone needs their 15 Finn Minutes

Congrats to Jerry Espinosa for FINALLY making it on the blog. He gave a whole new meaning to the term "casting couch".

Give me an "F"!

Monday, November 10, 2008


For the last couple of days, Finn has really been stretching his lungs. He's yelling pretty much constantly. Seriously, constantly. In fact, I'm sitting here now listening to him yelling on the monitor. And he's fast asleep. It might be due to the two new top teeth coming in, since he wasn't too thrilled about that last time.

Or, it could be due to the fact that he watched the Penn State vs. Iowa game with me on Saturday. We don't watch nearly as much TV as I'd like anymore, focusing entirely on CSI: Miami, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and on the hourly reruns of the Travel Channel's 25 Sexiest Vegas Hotspots
. Penn State football is a given.

Kitty was out running errands, so it was just me and the boy. I had intended to take Finn to our friend Sichel's house for some ribs, but his nap hit right at game time, so I settled in to watch at home. He slept through the first half, but he got up just in time for the fourth quarter. I tried to contain my disbelief & horror, but I get kind of excited and I don't think I did very good job. Even though he woke up right in the middle of "daddy freak-out time," considering that there were several Iowa Hawkeyes at Sichel's, I still think it worked out for the best.

Ever since then, Finn's turned up the volume. In fact, at daycare today his yelling made Grace cry. I felt really bad about that and want to apologize to her parents, Todd & Jennifer, who incidentally are big Iowa Hawkeye fans.

Sorry about that. I clearly need to be setting a better example. It had nothing to do with Saturday's game. Congratulations.

Here's a quick video of Finn and his new best friend, the lighty-blinky-loud thing that we keep in his pen. We've got to teach him that yelling at this is a more appropriate outlet for his sports frustration than yelling at sweet little girls at daycare.

Even if they are stupid, lucky Hawkeye fans.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Goodnight noises everywhere

Over the last seven months, Kitty and I have developed a pretty standard routine. She does everything, while I watch quality television. Mostly. In the evenings I will pick Finn up from daycare and whip up some dinner -- typically something orange & mushy, as orange is a color that he apparently finds delicious. Not like green, which must taste like crap.

From there, it's all mommytime. While I try to put the house back together after Hurricane Ninja & Hurricane Kitty collide, usually in the kitchen, the two troublemakers will retire upstairs for some quality time as Finn gets ready for bed. Apart from occasionally wandering upstairs to giggle at how adorable the boy is in his baby-in-a-bag setup, I stick to the basement with my good friend Horatio Caine.

Lately, however, Kitty has had stuff to take care of in the evening, which has left me on night-night duty. I've learned something very important as a result: night-night duty is awesome. The only time you can actually snuggle with this kid is when he's tied up, and he gets good and tied up for night-night. With the snuggle sack and a super-swaddle blanket on top of it, there's no way he can fight off the kissy-train and he's a captive audience for storytime.

Which leads me to the second important thing I've learned. Most baby books suck. Devoid of character development, illustrated by monkeys and generally lacking in any sort of compelling narrative. I'd like to take a moment to review five of the books that are currently in our bedtime rotation: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Guess How Much I Love You?; and of course, Goodnight Moon.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear starts out strong. With a brown bear. But it goes downhill from there. The theme is repetitive, with a new colored animal appearing with every page. The author lost me once he introduced a purple horse and the ending is completely confusing. Are the schoolchildren supposed to represent the animals? Which child is which animal? I think I've got the goldfish pegged, but how do I get the other ones right, especially without seeming racist?

Polar Bear, Polar Bear
, by the same author, is an entirely derivative work, however the action this time does make a little more sense and it is clear at the end that the children do represent the animals. The problem I have with both of these books is that I feel compelled to read them in silly animal voices and I can't remember which voice I used for which animal for previous readings, which just leaves Finn confused and me frustrated. Thumbs down.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar does have a cute little caterpillar and a neat little gimmick whereby the caterpillar eats through an apple, then two pears, three plums, etc. As you work through his meals, you flip little pages with holes in them representing where he's been. Once he's eaten his fill, he builds a cocoon and reemerges a butterfly. Right when you're thinking something cool might happen, you flip the next page and it's blank. The book is over. The butterfly moves to Paramus and stars in dinner theater for all we know. Terrible ending.

Guess How Much I Love You? was the book I read to the Ninja when he was still baking in the oven, so it gets sentimentality points. It's a cute book, but one of the protagonists (Big Nutbrown Hare) is a real jerk. Little Nutbrown Hare spends the whole book telling BNH how much he loves him, only to have BNH try to top him every time. Even at the end, BNH waits until LNH is asleep before totally one-upping him again. That's not cool. Big Nutbrown Hare is an a-hole, if you ask me.

Which brings us to Goodnight Moon, arguably the greatest book ever written. It's understated -- it can be read cover to cover in about 2 minutes. It rhymes funny words (Goodnight mush!). It has surprising developments (Good night nobody? Who saw that coming?!). Plus, it's got the single most soothing closing line in all of literature: Goodnight noises everywhere.

I fell asleep on the keyboard just typing that.

The worst part is that Brown Bear and Polar Bear are Finn's favorite books. He gets a big smile whenever we pick them up. I can't wait to retire them. Goodnight Moon will remain in the rotation indefinitely, but I'm already looking ahead to Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry. Since those books have actual paper pages, as opposed to the board books that we're reading now, we have to wait until Finn gets past the "reading with his mouth" stage before we can introduce them to storytime.

Paper cuts on the tongue will really kill the night-night vibe.

Before we put the cheetah away for good, here's a quick video of him racing across the Serengeti to attack his delicious prey: the Petunia Picklebottom diaper bag.