Peary Happy – a bad pun, a good vid clip

I wish it was always this easy to make Sweetie happy. Any of you who have children or have been around children know that their contentment can pass quickly. When you are in that moment though, it’s great. This is a 5 minute video of one such moment with Sweetie and I at snack time. So the back story:

On this particular day, for no particular reason, I plopped down with Sweetie to have an afternoon snack on the floor of our kitchen. I had a bowl of goldfish crackers for her and a pear for myself. Well, one look at my pear and she was all about it! Once she started on the pear I couldn’t help laughing and thought that I had to record it. She jumps right in around the 15-18 second mark with some enthusiastic “ummms” and keeps it up throughout the clip. Sweetie really shows some gusto with this fruit. (My hand makes a couple of cameos around 2:40 and 4:45 to collect some unwanted pear skins – internet fame earned as only a parent could.)

I figure people are entertained by videos a lot more bizarre than this, so up it went on the youtubes. Enjoy, it is only 5 minutes. And I apologize for the strange scraping noise, that’s the bowl of goldfish crackers that were not as exciting!

A little neurosis, a lot of sanity

I found these notes while going through some things the other day. Written back in November they are just as relevant today – now about a year in to this detour (and there’s a whole different entry!).

13 November 2012:

I find that my days are filled with little reminders that I am not in control of many things. Despite schedules, Sweetie sleeps when she is ready. Despite standard mealtimes and seemingly delicious food, Sweetie eats when she is ready. After days filled with unwarranted crying, Houdini poop that escapes from diapers, games with three minute entertainment value and countless other moving targets I needed something to pin down. So much of care giving is organic and like life in general, things are constantly moving and changing. Just like trying to influence the “input variables” at my previous employment, I tried to find something that I believed I could control.

The answer came in the day-to-day chores around the house, in particular, the laundry. Well, not just “the laundry”, but specifically the towels; and not just any towels, but particularly the bath towels. I found that if I folded all of our bathroom towels in a particular way that they all took on the same size. When they were the same size then they all stacked in same-sized units. And those units stacked neatly on the shelves designated for the towels, even where they shared the shelf with the sheets. It doesn’t describe well, but here goes: in half lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again (making sure the decorative stitching shows), then folded in thirds from the outsides in.

I found that this folding method did not work when Sweetie was awake and “helping” me with the laundry. That usually goes “fold one, chase two, re-fold one, chase child, repeat”. So I started folding the towels during her nap times. And I found that it was just me quietly folding towels.

This became my thing, my little neurosis, and one aspect of my life that I can control. I demand a particular fold, I work on it until it’s correct and I deliver my little bundles to their shelves. I change the towels on the same day each week. And I hang the fresh towels a particular way on their bars. These activities are simple accomplishments, small victories (and sometimes the only ones in my day!). I also found that once I set up this routine I was able to process while I was folding, shelving and hanging. I solved small problems, worked out home projects and planned meals. Focusing on something so common helps to ground me and definitely gives me back a sense of control. And focusing on something so UN-important helps me maintain perspective. I am better able to sort out the battles I will fight. Without sounding too esoteric, I think of it as a type of meditation on my day. Yes – a meditation while folding bath towels.

I don’t think this is a unique experience. I bet that plenty of you also have a little neurosis that helps you find a lot of sanity. I definitely don’t think it is as strange as it first seemed, and I highly recommend looking for it. Now it is part of my routine, and an important part at that. I completely acknowledge that having your towels folding a particular way is neurotic, but it is also nice. And on the rough days it is good to have something solid to fall back on. Hopefully it’s also going to help me prepare for the future. Sweetie is just as human and just as fickle as the rest of us. She is bound to stray from the standard and do her own thing. I don’t know how much the towels will cool my temper when she breaks curfew and comes home at a late hour, but I like to think that they will help keep me centered on what is important.

Sleep Schedule

After two days with marathon naps I was inspired to write about Sweetie’s sleep habits. Momma Z and I were recently comparing notes about how the girls’ sleep and at one point she asked straight-out, “So how did you get her to do that?”. “That” meaning nap twice a day and sleep from 7:30PM to 6:30AM (roughly since the 6 month mark).  The short answer is a sleep schedule – a firm sleep schedule. The long answer starts at the hospital the day after Sweetie was born.

Nurse Rita worked on the recovery ward at our birth hospital and taught the new parent class. She was a gentle but firm “whisperer” able to calm a crying child with a few words spoken directly. She had a couple of simple steps to teach your child how to sleep well. Nurse Rita said our first job was to wear our children out so they are ready to sleep at bedtime. We quickly experienced the truth in this step, seeing that if we did not sufficiently entertain Sweetie while she was awake, then she would wear us out when we tried to put her to sleep. Next Nurse Rita encouraged setting up and following a schedule to get your child in a routine. We went with a 6 PM dinner, 7PM bath, “spa” time afterwards, fresh pajamas and a final nursing with Wife. And finally, Nurse Rita stressed that bedtime is sleep time – “no goo-goo, gaa-gaa stuff” at bedtime. No matter how badly you want to stand at the crib and coo –let ‘em go to sleep.

Compadre has also weighed in on the subject. His background is in early childhood development and he spends his days making Chicago’s pre-school situation better. He stressed that young children respond to structure. I’m fairly certain he said they need it. So we try to stick to the routine, the schedule.  And so far Sweetie has followed the example, despite the occasional fight.

Of course we have consulted the interwebs and read multiple books as well. Most also suggested some type of sleep schedule and sleep routine. So we have kept it up and modified Sweetie has grown. The naps have shifted every couple of months. And we stopped the nursing/final bottle at 1 year so now Sweetie just has a final cuddle with Wife before going down. The schedule continues to develop with Sweetie’s needs.

So a sleep schedule has worked for us. Nurse Rita’s advice stuck with us from the beginning and our resolve is strengthened by what we have read and by other peoples’ input. And that’s been important for helping us stick with it. Over the past 13 months we have left family events early, we have shut down the house with guests still visiting; we have bowed out of some social events. So in some ways we have compromised our schedules to keep Sweetie on hers. And I guess that sums up parenting as a whole; the sleep schedule is just one specific example. I know some people think that any sort of “schedule” is rigid, especially one without “goo-goo, gaa-gaa” time. But when I wake up on Saturday morning after a solid eight hours of sleep, I’m okay with that.

How sweet it is...

How sweet it is…

Testdrive: New Logo

Change is a good thing. Even though I am quite fond of the original D-3 logo I had a nagging feeling that it was not presenting the image I was going after. So I am trying this new one.

"The new style"

“The new style”

I kicked it around with Wife before, during and after the conception of this image. I think her ideas helped get us to a good point. I ran it past Captain Jack as well. His comments: “What I do like about the orange model is that it convey’s a bit more chaos especially as little one grows and doesn’t sit still…” I couldn’t have said it better.

So what does this new logo have to do with being a Stay-at-home Dad? Nothing really. Except that I burnt up precious sleep hours learning how to play with Photoshop. Hopefully I can churn out some t-shirts or stickers or some other really cool merchandise (that you must have in order to be a true SAHD!). It does help with the sense of ownership with the blog, though. Ah well, enjoy!


Forever an homage to the SAHD