An Open Letter to Reed Hastings

IMG_4334b Dear Mr. Reed Hastings,

You and I go way back, Mr. Hastings. I’m a HUGE fan of your service and the countless number of films and TV shows you have beamed into my house over the last few years. I was the first person in my circle of friends to sign up for your DVD service, the first to jump into the streaming game, and I’ll probably be the first to implant the Netflix Streaming chip into my brain whenever you guys decide to roll that out inevitable piece of technology (I’m willing to be a guinea pig if you need test subjects). For someone like me who is absorbing content on an almost constant basis, Netflix has been a tremendous asset and/or destroyer of productivity and being the loyal consumer that I am, it will take a mighty force to push me away from the Netflix brand.

As such, I thought it prudent to let you know about a SIGNIFICANT issue that has popped up in recent weeks. I’m talking, of course, about the decision to drop Phineas and Ferb from your instant streaming collection. I speak for parents everywhere when I say that this is a grievous error the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the 1986 World Series. Mr. Hastings, we are tired. These kids, while tremendous blessings, are just plain exhausting. I only have one and dude, he wears me out! I try to play with him as much as possible but let’s be honest, there are times when the best I can do is turn on Netflix and let him partake in cartoon goodness. This, too, is tiring. Have you ever spent two hours watching today’s cartoons? All of them are fine for an episode, maybe two, but by the third episode, Calliou’s extreme obnoxiousness starts to seep into your brain and you start asking some serious questions about the Man in the Yellow Hat. And don’t get me started on the little slice of hell on earth known as Mater’s Tall Tales. A little piece of my soul breaks away every time my son begs me to watch it; it’s like a Horocrux, slowly tearing me apart.


But the one thing my son and I can agree on, the one beacon of light that keeps us both entertained and lets me believe in a not-so-distant future in which we can share any number of movies and TV shows, is Phineas and Ferb. This kid LOVES Phineas and Ferb, Mr. Hastings. He asks for “Pewwy” by name and he’s the only toddler I know who regularly uses the word “platypus” in conversation. This show is his jam and we watch an episode or two almost every night as he winds down before bed. Likewise, I’m totally enamored with this show’s brilliance. I’m pretty sure I’d watch Phineas and Ferb even if I didn’t have a toddler begging for it. It’s hilarious and having come late to the party, I see elements of this cartoon that have popped up in my favorite sitcoms over the years totally unbeknownst to me.

All that to say, when I looked over the list of movies and shows coming to and departing from Netflix in the month of March, and saw our beloved Phineas and Ferb scheduled to end on March 4, my heart sank. I’m man enough to admit I shed a tear, Mr. Hastings; not just because our shared interest would be taken away from my son and me but also because now I would be forced to watch wayyyyy more Curious George than any grown man should have to endure. The fact that Phineas and Ferb has remained on my queue going on a week after it was supposed to expire has somehow made this experience even worse. Every time he asks to watch “Pewwy”, I have to nervously turn on Netflix and hope against hope that it hasn’t disappeared in the hours since we last enjoyed the company of our animated friends. We’re basically living on the Lost island at this point, just waiting for a polar bear to devour us, and I’m slowly turning into Jack, demanding that we go back to a time when we didn’t even know Phineas and Ferb existed. Don’t make me turn into Jack, Mr. Hastings!

Look, I get that you have a business to run. When a movie or show pops up on the “soon to expire” list, I understand that there are complicated contracts, agreements, and licenses that have to be agreed upon in order to provide all of this content. That’s the way of things. Keep getting’ dem checks, my man. But my not-quite-two-year-old doesn’t understand the way the business world works. He doesn’t even have a job yet. Lazy, I know. So in order to keep all parties involved satisfied, I’m willing to offer the following incentives to keep Phineas and Ferb on Netflix:

1.) I will personally give you $87, which is the exact sum of money I have in my wallet at this very moment. Just let me know how you would like to process this transaction and we’ll get it done. 2.) I will turn over to you a vast collection of Chewbacca memorabilia I have accumulated over the years except not really because some things are worth more than my son’s happiness. 3.) I will tattoo the Netflix logo across my shoulder blades (as long as you require no photographical proof of such actions). 4.) I will carry with me, at all times, a list of great movies and shows available on Netflix engraved on a heavy tablet (the Biblical kind, not the Apple kind) to throw at anyone and everyone who laments the lack of quality content on your service. 5.) I will NOT email and tweet you videos of my son bawling his little eyes out every time he asks to watch “Pewwy” and I have to tell him, “No son, mean Mr. Hastings took Perry away from you and with it, stole all of our joy. It’s a cold, dark world out there.”


Hopefully this offer will be acceptable to you but I’m not above groveling if that’s what will get the job done. I look forward to your response and moreover, to your continued commitment to keeping Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and the preservation of exhausted parent brains everywhere.

With kindest regards, Brian

P.S. Seriously, what’s the deal with the Man in the Yellow Hat?

Adventures in Parenting #52: Santa Belly

So it's been a while since I've had the chance to write about the Coop and the outcry against this negligent behavior has been fierce. But I was waiting for the right time to make my/Cooper's triumphant return and as anyone will tell you, January 23rd is the perfect time to write about Christmas. Timeliness! Last year's Christmas was a whirlwind of new traditions, given that it was our child's first go-round. We read The Night Before Christmas, Cooper slept right through the prime present opening hours, and then we ate lunch at Applebee's. After a CPS investigator ruled that they couldn't take our child away from us just because we took him to Applebee's on Christmas but that they would be keeping an eye on us, Lindsey and I decided we'd better make his second Christmas significantly better. This time around was less new tradition-centric and more, "How many things can we jam into like three days so that we're all super tired and grumpy?"

The week started off Sunday night with a cookie party one of Cooper's teachers threw for a bunch of kiddos at church. Cooper insisted on wearing his boots for some reason. And I really mean that; he refused to leave the house until his demands were accommodated. At this party, we got the kids all hopped up on sugar then asked them to sit still for a picture. Within 10 seconds of this picture, two of the four were in tears and the other two were desperately searching for more cookies.


On Monday afternoon we had a Christmas celebration with Lindsey's family. A good time was had by all but since we tried to stretch Cooper past his nap time by, oh, maybe three hours, the last half of the day was spent with me chasing him around the house and scooping him up every time things didn't go his way and he was reduced to a puddle of tears. This kid cannot handle his emotions when he's sleepy.

On Monday evening we opened presents as a family. Again, having skipped over a large chunk of his nap time, Cooper's attitude toward receiving gifts was somewhere between "unsure" and "downright angry."


Now last year, you may remember (as I'm sure Cooper will never forget) Lindsey and I totally punted on gift buying and took whatever Target had left on the shelves on December 23rd. This year, we really came through in that we bought a few small gifts, one big gift (a Cozy Coupe car), and then filled in the gaps around our tree by re-wrapping gifts he had received for his birthday but wasn't old enough for or didn't have room for and pretended like they were brand new. So if you gave Cooper the car puzzle or the Little People barn playset for his birthday, he's really enjoying it six months later. Oh, and also, we totally forgot about the Cozy Coupe we'd "hidden" in the garage and so he didn't get his big gift until Martin Luther King Day. (I know what you're thinking and yes, we are putting some of the savings from not buying presents towards Cooper's future therapy bills.)

If that wasn't enough activities for one day, after presents we headed over to Patty's house for even more insanity. For the uninitiated, Patty is my boss, a close friend to us all, and a crazy person who turns her entire neighborhood into Whooville for Christmas, with an active Grinch and everything. It is literally my worst nightmare. But Cooper had a good time with his friends so I guess it was worth it?


On Tuesday, we did all of the things. Cooper and I had brunch with my friends Kyle and Rachel and their little one. The two kids spent most of the meal staring at each other and then Cooper tried to leave in order to chase a truck in the parking lot.


Then we both had some work to wrap up. Then we headed to a friend's house for our annual viewing of Home Alone except traffic was bad and I was getting frustrated so I just quit halfway there and came back home. Then we had to pack for the evening's trip to Lubbock. Then Cooper decided he needed to walk around outside in the cold while wearing only his boots and a sweater.


When we finally started packing the car, Cooper lost his mind. He loves the car because he is basically a golden retriever. He kept running back and forth between the garage door and wherever I was in the house and mixing his emotions, sometimes clapping and yelling, sometimes crying and yelling but always yelling. Eventually I just stuck him in his car seat and he literally cheered, you guys. I've never seen him as excited as he was for the 30 minutes he stood in his seat while I continued loading everything up. Once we finally hit the road, he promptly passed out and his first long road trip went off without a hitch until we got to our destination at 1:30 in the morning and Cooper woke up ready to party. Needless to say, Tuesday was not a particularly sleep-filled night.

On Christmas Eve, we opened presents with my family. Cooper wore his Santa Belly pajamas and engaged in the following activities:


He put on the mustache from a Mr. Potato Head:


He attempted to steal the gifts given to his younger cousin:


He made a piece of wrapping paper levitate with his mind:


He struggled with excessive tape (who hasn't?):


And then he crashed HARD (not pictured).

On Christmas morning, Cooper ran around the house like a crazy person, having no idea that there were EVEN MORE presents residing in a side room just feet away. I imagine this is our last year of him not having some understanding of the concept of Christmas but I'll take it as his lack of knowledge let us all wake up, settle into the day, and eat breakfast before doing the Santa thing. Eventually we let him dig into the Santa gifts:


And of course, out of all the tremendous gifts he received, the one he appreciated the most was the $3 plastic rake that we Santa found on the clearance rack at Target:


Oh and then he again stole his cousin's gift:


And then he made this face because why not?


Once Friday rolled around, we decided we'd had enough family time, sugar consumption, and sleeping in the same room as a wild toddler and we took our leave. But first, we needed to get a picture with Cooper and his great grandparents, whose hospitality we had just enjoyed. I took seven pictures and in none of those pictures were all three of them looking at the camera and smiling so this was the best we could do:


Next year we stay home and do nothing for two weeks, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #51: Random Saturday Mornings

One of the drawbacks of my job is the weird work schedule. I love what I do and the time I get to spend with the kids that come through my program is extremely valuable. But evening and weekend hours are tough; they should almost count double because to be at work not only means you're, you know, having to work but also means you're probably missing out on something. I miss the stuff my friends schedule, the opportunities for the occasional weekend getaway, weddings (okay, I wouldn't say I miss those), and other life events but most importantly, I miss a lot of quality time with my kiddo. Moments in which both Lindsey and I are home with the boy are, at times, in short supply and those valuable weekends slip away so quickly when half of them involve me working all day. That weighs on me at times. My parents, and especially my dad, were always great about making weekends and holidays count with my siblings and me. Breakfasts, random excursions, etc. were a regular part of my childhood and even in my teen years when I pitched a fit about not being able to hang out with my friends in the name of familial unity, these small adventures continued. Often times, I think these events started with the simple concept of, "Let's go do something." The funny thing is, I can scarcely remember the details of just about any of these weekend events but I remember the sentiment and the impact they had on me. And these memories impressed upon me the importance of creating similar moments with my own kiddo and to make the most of whatever time we do get together on those random Saturday mornings when I'm not working and can embark upon a small adventure.

So last Saturday, Lindsey and I had plans for pretty much the entire day. They fell through, however, and our babysitter called in sick and thus, it was 9 o'clock in the morning and our plates were empty. Now I'll be honest, if this had happened in, say, October when I could've sat around the house all day watching college football, I'm not so sure I wouldn't have seized that opportunity. But since college football is over for me (rest in peace, ghost of Texas Tech football 2014), a new plan was required. My phone informed me that the weather was incredible, Cooper was in a fantastic mood having just come off of another ridiculous little illness that he so loves to bring home like a mangy alley cat, and it was clear we needed to get out of the house. I turned to Lindsey and suggested we throw on clothes and hats, get donuts, and head to the zoo. Lindsey agreed with my suggestion wholeheartedly and 20 minutes later our little polar bear was shoveling sugar into his mouth like a champ.


(Small aside: If I was granted the ability to suddenly make any food good for me and therefore consumable on a daily if not hourly basis, the first choice would be pizza, the second choice would be fries, and the third choice would be donuts. Apparently there are people out there who don't understand the simple brilliance of a donut and I believe we should probably put those people on a government watch list and revoke their rights to vote.)

After ingesting all of the world's sugar, we headed to the Fort Worth Zoo. We've hit up the zoo a couple of times over the course of Cooper's life but this was the first time that he was fully aware of what was happening. We headed down to the Texas section of the zoo (my favorite part and the part that usually gets skipped over due to a tired child who's had enough of crowds and animals and being alive, etc.) and he ran the whole way. Well, he did his version of running which involves him pumping his little arms like he's setting the pace in an Olympic race but actually moving only a fraction of a second faster. And every so often he stopped to point out whatever caught his attention, like a tree or an empty cup but never, ever an actual animal. Apparently we were the only ones who got the memo about the amazing weather because there were places in the zoo where we were literally the only people and thus, Cooper had free reign to play with all of the exhibits and say, "Hi bear" over and over again to pretty much every animal we saw. He likes bears and can you blame him? Bears are awesome.

Of course, in true Cooper fashion, the most excited he got during the entire trip was when he discovered a set of stairs that he could go up and down without any interference. He had a blast for as long as we would let him then grew irritable when I had the gall to sweep him away to pet a goat or get up close to a duck. Dads are the worst, I think we can all agree.



Our last stop of the day was the MOLA exhibit (for the uninitiated, that's the snake house but like, the coolest, least creepy snake house ever). Here he had the time of his life until he climbed up on to a step, fell backward and had to be swung to safety by his still-gimpy dad. That's when our amenable, fun loving kiddo suddenly realized he was tired and hungry and angry that his dad had embarrassed him by not letting him fall on his head and with that, our day at the zoo was done. I tried to get a picture with my smiley, happy son outside the exhibit but as you can see, those sunshiny days were over and the child literally wailed the entire way out of the park.


We made it home in time for Cooper to crash and take a three hour nap, giving his parents time to revel in the success of family outing. We spent a little money and we gave up a lot of energy but much more importantly, we turned a rare free morning into a little memory that our son will probably forget but that will hopefully serve to lay the groundwork for the activities and events that are to come for us. And maybe in 30 years he'll be able to look back on his childhood and recognize the value of those random Saturday mornings when his dad didn't go to work or watch football all morning and instead said, "Let's go do something."

Why haven't we domesticated bears yet? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #50: Halloween

Last year being Cooper's first Halloween, we put a great deal of time and effort into trying to make it a good one. This makes a lot of sense considering he was six months old and literally just sat there the whole time but hey, that's what first time parents do. Also we totally mailed in his first Christmas (here's a link to that wonderful story, including our trip to Applebee's) so we probably made up for it. This year, though, not so much. We're tired, you guys. Between walking and developing opinions on things and like, having seizures and stuff, this kid is exhausting. Lindsey and I have both been swamped at work, too, and I've been prepping for a shoulder surgery and thus, Halloween just kind of got here.  As such, last year's awesome and well-planned out "E.T. and Elliot" costume gave way this year to, "Ugh, I guess he could just be a basketball player." And so that's what Cooper was. He needed a costume for his Halloween party at YCW (his primary pre-school) and of course the big night itself. So we went to Academy and purchased a new Dirk jersey (that cost more than most of the clothing items I own but whatever) for him and BAM! costume. Truthfully, this is really just Cooper following in my footsteps because I was very often a basketball player for Halloween as that required no effort on my part, which is really all I ever wanted in a costume after the age of 10 or so. (This is why my current go-to Halloween "costume" is a Chewbacca t-shirt, much the same as my go-to 80's party "costume" is a Goonies t-shirt and my go-to 90's party "costume" is a Nirvana t-shirt.)

In true "Just give the kid a box instead of the toy inside the box" fashion, Cooper could not have been happier with his new costume. He threw a fit when I took it off him in the store so that it could be purchased and when he donned his outfit again the next day, he strutted around sticking his belly out. He could not have been prouder. It was as if the spirit of Dirk Nowitzki had come over him through the jersey. Suddenly he WAS Dirk and the world needed to know that he's big stuff. As an added bonus, Cooper got to take his basketball with him to YCW on Thursday since it fit with his costume and I'm sure he spent the entire day yelling, "Ball! Ball! Ball!" to the annoyance of all his little friends.

On Halloween proper, his Friday school didn't have a Halloween party (because apparently we send him to a school for the Amish) so his jersey was left at home and replaced by a tuxedo t-shirt. Because we want to make sure his school knows this kid likes to party and might possibly live in a trailer park. When he returned home, he donned a plastic top hat that he picked out demanded at Target the week before. I mean, look at that face!

photo (4)

For the evening portion of our Halloween, Cooper engaged in the following activities:

1.) He shot some hoops. This seems only fitting given his costume but it's also his way of getting things turnt. We're basically a Jock Jams CD and a strobe light away from the full on NBA arena experience over here.


2.) He walked around in jersey but without pants. Just like the real Dirk Nowitzki, I imagine.


3.) Every time a trick or treater showed up, he helped pass out candy (albeit a little begrudgingly), tried to make friends, and then collapsed into a puddle of tears when they turned and walked on to the next house. Every. Single. Time. Poor kid. He thought this was a trade off sort of event. Kids come to the door, he gives them candy, and in return, they come in and become his best friends for life. Sorry to disappoint, bud.

4.) He ate his shoe. Also a thing I imagine the real Dirk Nowitzki does after a tough loss.


5.) He became a hot mess and ended up spacing out in his mom's lap. Seriously, why in the world did we think this little booger who usually goes to bed at 7 could stay up until 8 or 9 in the midst of all this excitement and not-forever-friend-making and keep it all together? At one point he just started wandering around the room being busy with a look on his face that said, "I have no idea what I'm even doing right now."


Shortly afterward, I asked him if he was ready to go to bed and whereas he usually puts up a fight at the mere suggestion of this question, for once he agreed and went to bed with only a hint of a whimper. Probably over all the friends he didn't get to make that night.

We didn't even get to go egging, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #49: Walk This Way

As any parent will tell you, and as I’ve written about previously, there are a handful of milestones that you look forward to and keep track of as your little one grows. Lifting his head on his own, sitting up, eating baby food, eating real food, crawling, sleeping through the night, jibber jabbering, talking, standing, walking, etc. all earn a little mental checkmark and maybe even a fist pump like, “Yes, we did it, we haven’t messed this kid up yet!” And even the most secure of parents (which I consider myself though part of that is probably due to sheer ignorance) can’t help but compare their kid’s progress to that of the other little one’s around them. “Every kid is different” you (rightfully and truthfully) hear and you know that’s true but in the back of your mind you occasionally think, “Dude, would you get it together with (insert important benchmark here)? This is getting ridiculous.” For me, “insert important benchmark here” was walking. I knew literally NOTHING about babies in the first six or so months and therefore couldn’t have even told you if Cooper was behind on anything. He was a delayed crawler but this kid has literally the biggest head in the entire world; he couldn’t hold it up well enough to get moving so I wasn’t concerned. He started talking a little late but he recognized a ton of words very early so the fact that he wasn’t vocalizing all that much didn’t bother me. But the walking thing…come on, dude. For months, Cooper looked like he was right on the verge of beginning to walk. Lindsey and I must have said to each other, “I think he’s about to start walking” 100 times in his fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth months of life. Countless times he would let go of whatever piece of furniture he was holding on to, survey the landscape as if he was Neil Armstrong stepping out of the moon lander, then look at us like, “This is happening”…before dropping down to his crawl and scampering off. I think he enjoyed faking us out, honestly.


About half the time when he did start to take off, that planet-sized orb of his would shift like a bobblehead and he’d have to return to safety. Even when he was able to keep his head under control, he clearly didn’t feel secure about two-legged movement and often adamantly refused to engage in that sort of shenanigans. (His incredible stubbornness is definitely something that’s going to go away soon, right veteran parents? RIGHT? PLEASE TELL ME IT’S GOING TO GO AWAY!) Over and over, Lindsey or I would hold him under the arms, put his feet on the ground, and try to get him moving and about 90% of the time he absolutely lost his mind and arched his back in protest until he was almost a little (chubby) ball. Then he’d go back to his crawl and get wherever he needed to go in record time. And hey, it’s tough to blame him; he moved fast, like something out of a horror movie except really cute, so why fix what ain’t broken? But boy, was it frustrating to his stupid parents. For a couple of months, if not more, all three of us knew he was totally capable of accomplishing this feat but one of us refused to buy in. You’re bringing this whole team down, Cooper.

Then one blessed day (almost two months ago which is shameful in terms of not writing about it but I’m busy so GET OFF MY BACK!), all the stars aligned. Cooper woke up with a low grade fever or a stomach ache or some other ailment that I’ve forgotten because honestly he’s had so many of them lately that they’ve become impossible to keep track of so I stayed home with him. Post-nap he was in a great mood and started getting adventurous. While playing on the windowsill (at the time, the windowsill was BY FAR his favorite place to be; he sat and stood there, crawled along it like Spider-man, and spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at his own reflection and laughing) he lost hold of whatever toy he was playing with and promptly hopped down and took four or five steps to retrieve it. LIKE IT WAS NOTHING! He gave me a sly look that suggested, “Hey dummy, I’ve been able to do this for ages and you just haven’t caught on. Idiot.” I texted Lindsey excitedly and that night we popped the champagne (read: “sparkling grape juice”) in celebration of our little guy’s achievement.


By literally the next morning, Cooper was EVERYWHERE, moving exclusively as a biped. Suddenly the light had switched on and he had grown into a fully functioning human. “Crawling is for babies!” I heard him exclaim as he flicked a cigarette and took out a mortgage on his first house. “Stop growing up!” I yelled after him as he rode away on a Harley. But seriously, it really felt like we went to bed one night as the parents of a non-toddling toddler and woke up as parents of a real little boy. Except every once in a while for the first couple of weeks I would forget he could walk and then he’d come wandering around the corner like Big Baby from Toy Story 3 and FREAK ME OUT.

Everything has changed over the last couple of months. All Cooper wants to do now is walk. You don’t truly understand the shift in house dynamics that this transition calls for until it’s actually happening. Baby gates are borderline useless because in order to keep the kid fully reigned in you’d need like 12 baby gates and whenever he can’t get where he wants to go he just has a fit anyway so what’s the point? Doors must be kept shut at all times, the refrigerator is about to get padlocked (because as you all know, this kid likes his food and he knows exactly where it all comes from), and poor Lucy Dog spends more time outside so as to avoid the fully mobile ruffian who likes to chase her around while wielding whatever “weapon” he can get his hands on. It’s a new day in the Gill household and sometimes I have to remind myself that I got exactly what I hoped for with this whole walking thing and with it comes new challenges like never being able to go to the bathroom in peace without Big Baby banging on the door while yelling, “Hiiiiiiiiii!!!” at the top of his lungs.


Please pray for Lucy Dog, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #48: Cut It Out

I hate getting my hair cut. Hate it. I have no real reason for this hatred other than forced small talk is one of the world's worst inventions and there's really no way out of it when you're getting your hair cut. You pretty much just have to grin and bear it when your barber/stylist curses like a sailor or doesn't understand why people love Star Wars or decides to use the straight edge for no reason and cuts your ear or definitely just got off a smoke break and has the smelly hands to prove it (all real things that have happened in my life). It's the worst. For a long time I went to a barber shop where most of the stylists spoke no English just so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone about the weather or something and I just dealt with the fact that they never really got the cut right because, again, they couldn't speak English. It was worth it. Then one magical day, after years of trying and failing to find a style that was practical, functional, and rad in spite of a head full of cowlicks, I finally broke down and had my non-English speaking stylist buzz the heck out of it. And guess what? IT WAS AWESOME! I walked out of the salon that day thinking to myself, "WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE I BEEN DOING FOR 28 YEARS?! THIS IS THE BEST!" Shortly thereafter I started cutting my own hair and declared that I would never again be subjected to the weird awkwardness of 20 minutes spent with a random, small talk-y, Star Wars-hating, ear-cutting stranger again! Freedom (but without the dying and stuff)!

Well not quite. I didn't think through the whole, "Eventually kids have to start getting their hair cut" thing. Curse you, children, and all of your growing up! Regardless, last week I found myself right back in my personal hell at a place called Cool Cuts with a child who wanted absolutely nothing to do with this whole thing.












Now, prior to this date we had NUMEROUS people demand that we NOT cut his gorgeous curls. To those people I say, "Seriously?" This was a looooong time coming. We'd been meaning to do it for literal months because, for real you guys, he was starting to look like a Boxcar Child. When this kid was in the bath and had his hair wet, it stretched all the way down past the back of his neck. We're talking major mullet here. And if we tried to go an extra day without bathing him, you could look at him and think he might be some sort of feral child who would definitely bite your leg and try to crawl off with your purse. Something had to be done before CPS stepped in.

So we sat him down in the seat, a metal car that once upon a time was probably cool and comforting to unsure children but is now so old that it looks like something you might find in Chernobyl, and allowed the stylist to do her thing. Cooper was uneasy with this whole thing at first but seemed willing to give it a try during all the pre-cutting stuff.


But as soon as she started tugging on his hair with both comb and fingers, he decided this wasn't fun at all and wanted out of the Chernobyl car immediately. This resulted in the funniest/saddest video of all-time:

Let's just say this process took a while. Every time he'd settle down and start watching the video on the tiny TV, the stylist would start attempting to cut his hair again and he'd whip around and stare into her soul with the look of someone who had done time until he rediscovered the TV and we'd start the whole thing over again. In the end, I had to lean over and put my face against his so he could rub my ears (his comforting mechanism that totally doesn't make the top of my ears look like I've found a new way to shoot heroin) and wait until the awfulness came to an end. When it was all over, I took him out of the tetanus-y car seat, paid a fee that is either way too much for cutting a child's hair or way too little given all the weeping and death stares I still haven't decided, and promptly headed down the road to get ice cream.

It was in the ice cream parlor that Lindsey and I truly got a good look at the kid and realized that while we may have gone into Cool Cuts with a little homeless baby, we had come out with a real little boy who is probably right on the verge of carrying on full conversations and going to school and playing team sports and heading off to college and starting his own family and all of that real life stuff that was so far away pre-haircut but suddenly seemed right around the corner. Which is what you really want from a $30 hair cut, right? A sense of your own mortality? Cut it out with the growing, kid.



Maybe next time I'll take him to the place where they don't speak English, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #47: "That Time My Kid Had a Seizure"

I really considered whether or not I was going to write this post for a couple of reasons. Number one, we’re not the sort of people to draw attention to our very minor misfortunes. We’re very fortunate and blessed and it’s rare that you’ll catch me posting something, whether in this space or on social media, that focuses on tough times and/or highlights whatever mild hardship that might have befallen us. And two, I like my jokes and for the life of me, I can’t find much humor in this situation. So I was just going to let it be. But I’ve had enough people ask me questions about the events described below that I felt like maybe it was important to get it out there so everyone who cares knows what happened. And I should start off by saying first and foremost, Cooper is TOTALLY FINE. A couple of weeks ago, Cooper developed a really bad cough. It wasn’t a constant thing or something that even seemed to be affecting him much; just 10 or 12 times a day, he would burst out into this horrific, hacking cough that sounded like maybe he’d spent the last 20 years managing and living in a shady bowling alley. But that was his only issue; no fever, no loss of breath, no general unhappiness that would lead us to believe there was something actually wrong. Finally, after a particularly bad night of coughing, we took him to the doctor where he was tested for whooping cough. (By the way, my grandparents call it “The Hooping Cough” and I think that sounds way better and move that we, as a society, begin referring to it as so IMMEDIATELY.) Even our doctor said he didn’t think it was The Hooping Cough whooping cough but, of course, lo and behold, when the test came back three days later, he did, in fact, have whooping cough.

(Please note: Cooper has been through all of his immunizations including those that are designed to prevent whooping cough. It is only 85% effective, partly because that’s how these things work and partly because so many people are refusing immunizations for their kids. This is neither the time nor the place for that “debate” but let’s just say this choice is not my favorite thing in the world right now. Regardless, we felt it important to note that your kid can get these illnesses even if immunized.)

Being that this is our first child, I had no idea what a big deal whooping cough was. I mean, I know that it’s something we vaccinate against, I know it has a reputation for causing damage to baby-babies, and I know it’s not the best but that’s about it. Within a couple of hours, the health department was calling and Lindsey had to give them the names and phone numbers of literally every single human who came in contact with Cooper in the last 10 days. All of these people had to be notified, warned, and encouraged to get on antibiotics. (It should be noted that during this period, we had gone to a birthday party for one of Cooper’s little friends so happy birthday to that kid, enjoy The Hooping Cough.) Still, it wasn’t the end of the world. We all got on antibiotics, we quarantined Patient Zero, and we moved on with our lives just fine.

Skip ahead a couple of days to Tuesday night. Cooper had been in bed for a couple of hours and I was heading into my office to record a podcast when Lindsey and I heard him make a weird sound on the monitor. I looked at the screen and saw him in the corner of his crib twitching and shaking in the midst of what would appear to be a seizure. When I got to his crib, I thought maybe his arm was stuck in the railing but when I pulled him out, he continued the twitching for another 15 or 20 seconds. He had spasms running through his little body especially in the limbs and just didn’t seem like he was in control of his movements. Worse yet, he wasn’t THERE. He wasn’t alert, wouldn’t look at us when we called his name, and didn’t seem present for five minutes. After the fact, Lindsey and I both said it was like our kid was suddenly just gone. Finally, he started to come around and Lindsey called the standby doctor who told us to take him to the ER.

We headed over to Cook’s around 10:15 that evening and thus began the longest 18 hours of my life. We sat in the waiting room along with every other child in the Metroplex. Seriously, if you have a kid under the age of six and you weren’t in the ER on Tuesday night, you might want to check the settings on your email; it’s possible the invitation got sent to your junk mail. We waited for three hours for a spot to open up, during which time Cooper acted like nothing had happened and tried desperately to get down on the floor to crawl around (gross). It was 1:30 in the morning before we finally got to go back and talk to an actual doctor. The doctor agreed with our assessment that it sounded like Cooper had experienced a seizure and ordered a series of tests to see if they could discover the source and rule out meningitis.

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At this point, the night essentially turned into something out of a Saw movie. First the staff conducted urine and blood tests. Horrible. Then they inserted the IV which Cooper fought quite dramatically to the point that his little hand had to be taped down in order to keep everything in place. Terrible. Then we were escorted down the hall for a CT scan, for which Cooper had to be wrapped up in the most pathetic bundle I’ve ever seen. Awful. Then back in the room he had to go through an EKG, which wasn’t so bad until the nurse had to remove the patches which resulted in a total meltdown at 3 o’clock in the morning. Yay!

Then the night took an even worse turn. I thought we were done and it seemed like the nurses thought we were done. We just had to wait for all the fluid from the IV to drip into his body before they moved us to a real room. So I turned off the lights and rocked Cooper to sleep, finally…and then the doctor came back in to do a spinal tap. With all the advances in medicine from the last 50 years, you would think that by now we’d have a better way to obtain the information provided by a spinal tap without sticking a shiv in someone’s back and extracting the essence of their bones. I had a meningitis-related experience when I was four and while an otherwise normal human being, I am still scarred by that; it is literally my first memory. Being in the room while my sweet little boy was subjected to that particular brand of torture is something I will unfortunately never forget.

When all of this was finally over, the little guy got a bit of sleep before we were told that he was clear on meningitis and we were mercifully moved to an actual room. At this point it was around 5:30 in the morning. In the room, we answered the same round of questions twice more, once for the floor nurse on duty and once for the floor nurse who came on duty 20 minutes after we arrived. Cooper ate a little, bawled his eyes out over his exhaustion and the immensely frustrating IV that was still in his arm for literally no reason (the new nurse cut him off the fluids as soon as she came in the room and acted like he shouldn’t have been on it in the first place, which was fun), and finally crashed for a couple of hours.

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In the morning, after answering the same questions another half dozen or so times (seriously, medical industry, how about a new policy where the first time you describe what happened, someone records you and each doctor/nurse/attendant/janitor who visits listens to it before coming into your room?), Cooper was hooked up to an EEG box and given a litany of tests that in and of themselves weren’t so bad but the taping on of 30 sensors onto his head was brutal. He was very sad, as you can see in the picture.

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We napped again (sort of) and finally after a few hours, the neurologist came in and told us, essentially, there’s nothing wrong with him, all of the tests came back normal, and he wasn’t concerned about any long term issues. This is both the best and worst thing a doctor could possibly say. On the one hand, OBVIOUSLY I’m thrilled that my kid is okay, that he doesn’t have meningitis or epilepsy or any other malady. On the other, though, it’s hard to accept, “Sometimes kids just do weird things” as a reason for a “seizure or life threatening event” (as it was described in his paperwork). The doctor hinted that the effects of whooping cough may have left his body so tired that this was his way of shutting down which totally makes sense but also is not the definitive answer we would like to have. And, barring another seizure, we’ll probably never know what happened. So…here’s to never having the occasion to dig any deeper on this issue.

We went home a few hours later, a bit shaken but healthy and whole. Cooper promptly slept for, like, 16 hours and spent the next three days resting more than usual but now he’s back to his normal, jovial, full-bellied self. Hopefully he’ll never remember any of this and hopefully I’ll run into one of the Men in Black in the near future and he’ll be able to flashy-thing this memory from my brain as well. Thank you all so much for your concern, your texts, your encouragement, and most of all your prayers as we went through all this nonsense. With a bit of blessing, this won’t be a common occurrence and will henceforth be known as, “That time my kid had a seizure.”

Are we even working on making the flashy-thing a reality? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #46: Basketball Jones

Sorry for the lack of content lately. I've had a list of about a half dozen things to write about sitting on my desk for a couple of months and no time or energy to put virtual pen to virtual pad. I'll try to get better but no promises. I don't know if you knew this or not but raising a toddler is exhausting. It should come as no surprise to any of you that I'm a big fan of Sports. There's always lots of Sportsing going on in my house. Football, baseball, soccer, tennis...pretty much anything that involves a ball and some kind of physical exertion (sorry billiards, you're out), I'm at least somewhat interested in. Above them all, however, is basketball. I play twice a week. I will watch any NBA or NCAA basketball game that finds its way to my TV, even Summer League games, which is basically like watching 10 dudes from your local YMCA play together for the first time. I think about basketball constantly to the point that I often fall asleep at night trying to figure out what strategy the Mavericks need to take once free agency starts. It might be a sickness, I'm not sure, but if it is, it's definitely terminal.

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Knowing this, it should also come as no surprise that I desperately hope Cooper will embrace this sickness as well. (I really wanted to make a "Down with the Sickness" joke here but I didn't think most of you would get it. I wish I didn't get it, honestly. That's some bad music, y'all.) When Lindsey and I found out we were having a boy, I immediately started having visions of him streaking up the court, dominating other kids whose dads were not nearly as ridiculous as I am, and realizing the athletic potential that I never really had. At the very least, even if he lacked the ideal athleticism that occupied my wildest dreams, I hoped he would have an interest in sport so that I would have someone to sit and watch games with. (Also it would be great for Lindsey because then we could stop having conversations that begin with, "You're not going to care about this because it's sports but I need to talk about.")

Needless to say, I have done my best to indoctrinate Cooper into my obsession. One of the first things I presented to tiny baby Cooper was a little soft basketball. In his quieter moments, he will sit and watch basketball or baseball with me and occasionally claps when something gets the crowd going. I've threatened (read "seriously contemplated") to tie his right hand behind his back to force him to become a southpaw. All of my efforts paid off when Cooper finally started talking in that his first real word was "Ball." If you've been in a room with Cooper in the last few months, chances are you've heard him yell "Ball ball ball" over and over again. He points at whatever basketball, soccer ball, etc. he sees and yells, he identifies circles on signs as balls, his eyes get huge when he sees a watermelon as he states with a guttural urgency, "BALL." Everything that is even somewhat round is a ball in Cooper's world and they should all be his to play with. And recently, he's started identifying the basketball hoop that sits in our driveway as "Ball ball ball" and wants to reach up to touch the backboard. So, yeah, you could say I'm getting excited.

This week I bought a mini basketball goal and set it up for Coop in the living room. Now I should say, he's never had access to a hoop before or seen me, or anyone else for that matter, shoot hoops in person. All he's seen is whatever he's observed in the fleeting moments that he's actually paid attention to whatever basketball game was on TV. And yet, he knew. I took this video approximately 3 minutes after I showed Cooper the goal for the first time and handed him the basketball. Apologies for the poor quality as I was very busy trying not to cry:

BOOM. This kid gets it! He knew exactly what he was supposed to do and quickly figured out how to do it. And look, guys, it's not just that he understands "Ball go in hoop." Air Bud figured that one out. It's the quickness with which he took to it and maybe more importantly to this longtime youth basketball coach, it's the form with which he's shooting the little ball. If I could get some of my 6th graders to get their form up to this standard, I'd be thrilled.


So obviously the kid is a natural and we'll be putting him into training as soon as he can, you know, walk and everything. But seriously, one of the coolest parts of this whole parenting thing is seeing various characteristics that Lindsey and I bring to the table burst forth in our progeny. Cooper loves to dance, to the point that sometimes when he's really gets the groove he looks at you with a facial expression that say, "MY BODY HAS A MIND OF ITS OWN I HAVE NO CONTROL." Drop a dope beat near the Coop and he goes nuts. Check mark in Lindsey's column. Now he's become a regular Basketball Jones. All he wants to do is shoot hoops and when he can't get his hands on the ball, he dunks whatever is readily available. That one's on me. Now if he exhibits a love for terrible movies or a propensity for yelling in traffic, we'll know who to blame (Lindsey and me, respectively).

I might be a little too psyched about this, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #45: Father's Day 2.0

This weekend I celebrated my second Father's Day with my best little buddy and what a day it was! I got to sleep in and then ate chicken and waffles from Ol' South Pancake House which is pretty much all I ever want on any day ever. But since there weren't any exceptionally interesting stories to come out of this day, I thought I'd share the letter I wrote to a friend of mine who celebrated his first Father's Day this year and whose wife collected letters/notes/words of encouragement for him in preparation for this day. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Dear Friend,

This weekend I attended a funeral for an infant. I’m guessing most of the letters you’re getting today don’t start off that way but there it is. Suffice it to say, this was one of the more sobering experiences of my life. Obviously I felt awful for the family but I also couldn’t help but selfishly put myself in their shoes and consider my emotions were it my child instead of theirs. And that, my friend, is a dark road.

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We spend most of our energy with these little beings trying to protect them. We feed them, we put them in the appropriate sleep attire, and we don’t let them swallow, like, pennies and stuff because it’s our job to keep them safe. But no matter what we do or how careful we are, there’s always a certain percentage of their lives that we have no control over, when we pretty much just have to pray for the best and trust that they’re not going to stop breathing in their sleep. Not going to lie, sometimes that keeps me up at night and maybe a little more so over the last few nights than normal. It’s less easy to fall asleep trusting that my son will be just fine in the morning after having just been in the presence of a precious little one who wasn’t.

But as is usually the case in the midst of tragedy, there was something shiny and positive that I took away from this experience: that being, a renewed sense of the value of time. Each day of this little guy’s short life, his parents took a picture of him documenting his progress and establishing their hopes and goals for that day. They cherished each moment they had with that little boy, knowing that any of them could be the last, and I think filled those 10 weeks with an extraordinary amount of love. Because they understood the  value of time.

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So my charge to you today, my piece of advice based on my extensive experience as a parent for all of 13 months, is to understand and grab hold of the value of time in the following three areas:

1.) Time with your child – This is the obvious one I think but still one that we all lose track of occasionally. Your time with your child, even at three months old, is such a vital part of both her existence and yours. Make the most of that time, whether it’s holding her while she sleeps, playing with her, or just generally being around her. Moreover, when you’re spending time with her, do your best to be present in spirit and not just in body. That’s not always easy at all but these frustrating moments are almost just as important as the good ones. When Cooper won’t sleep at night and I’m losing my patience, I try to think about the fact that more than anything else, on a base level, all he wants is to spend more time with me. And that’s a blessing, even if I’m losing sleep.

2.) Time without your child – By now I’m betting you understand your own need to recharge better than ever before. Parenthood is exhausting even in its best moments. It is my firm belief that in order to be a great parent, you have to make the most of the time you have away from your kiddo. Time with your wife, time with your friends, time with a book. Whatever it is that recharges your battery, make time for that and anything you do that gets in the way of the stuff that truly provides that to you, set it aside. I read far more and play far fewer video games than I did a year ago because I found that the one nourishes me and the other only provides a partial charge (though I did win seven consecutive BCS National Championships at Tech last fall; no big deal).

3.) Time others spend with your child – Try as you might, you can’t give your child every single thing that she needs. As a teacher, you get to see firsthand the impact outside influences can have on a kid, whether that influence is a positive or negative. A big part of this is the friends they make, obviously, but often times (again, as you know) the adult presence in their lives plays just as big a role as that of their peers. Lindsey and I take great pride in our work with kids both young and old and the value of the time we get to spend with them. As such, since birth, we’ve taken great pains to put Cooper into the hands of trusted adults around us (and maybe a few strangers when we’re really desperate) so that even at this young age, he might learn a thing or two from them and begin to create relationships not only with the children his age but with the wise adults that will occupy his life over the course of his upbringing. Give your child the opportunity to get to know those around her and in turn, encourage those trusted adults to value the time they get with her and work to forge lasting relationships that will become even more important as she gets older.

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Let’s be honest, I’ve only been at this for a short period of time and there’s really no way of telling whether I’m a good parent or not at this point. I mean, Cooper is still alive and judging by the size of his belly, I’m certainly succeeding when it comes to feeding him. But I guess we won’t really know if I’m doing things right until he comes of age and we see whether or not he makes it to the NBA, the only achievement I really care about obviously. Regardless, I know I’m right on this one and that if you and I and all the other young(ish) fathers we know can grab hold of the value of time, we’ll be even better fathers than we are currently. It would also help if you would stop trying to make her a Spurs fan but that’s probably a topic for another day.

Happy first Father’s Day, man!

Regards, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #44: Is My Baby a Bottomless Pit?

In the past I wrote about the transition from formula to rice cereal and from rice cereal to baby food. I never wrote about the transition from baby food to real food (which I sometimes call "table food" even though A.) we almost never eat at the actual table and B.) it sounds like I'm feeding a dog not an actual human) because it was such a gradual, "here, have a little of this" thing rather than a, "Hey, you know how you've been getting all of your sustenance out of a bottle? Well now that's over and you have to use eating utensils for everything" thing. Like most people, it started with little things like puffs and Cheerios, progressed to Goldfish (which only resulted in one massive puking incident that we know of), and eventually we got to the good stuff. Cooper fought this transition at first. No one likes change, least of all babies, and so he would lightly rebel against fruits and vegetables a bit and refused all meat for a while. But eventually he came around on the idea of real food. And now he can't get enough.

Seriously. No matter how much food you give this child, it is NEVER enough. Two tubs of baby food? Please. A tub of food, some of these ridiculous pasta pickups, and an entire orange? NOT ENOUGH. An entire hamburger? I'm not certain he's made it past this feat quite yet but it's definitely heading that way. If there is food in sight, Cooper MUST have it. When it's time for breakfast or elevensies or lunch or snack or dinner or second dinner, our well behaved little guy turns into a whiny mess of a child who might have a demon. He yells, he cries, he pounds his fists on the table. Sometimes he yells for more while actually chewing on the last bite and holding the next bite in his hands. He is a monster. This is a note we got from his school last week regarding his eating habits:


Yeah, that's right, my child is a "bottomless pit." And if we're being honest, that's sugarcoating it. God bless Ms. Kathy.

I used to look forward to Cooper's progression to real food. It's one of those little hallmarks that indicates your child is actually turning into a little person now. But none of you told me that once they start down that road, you have to start rationing their food like you're in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Now when Lindsey and I eat we have to take turns shoveling food into our own mouths while the other attempts to sate the appetite of this little creature who might be turning into the Sarlacc Pit. (Look, I don't make many Star Wars references around here but it's been a pretty exciting week for nerds like me so just give me this one.) It's not that bad at home because I can always just eat over the kitchen sink where he can't actually see the food. But in a can get bad, guys. I pity any waiter who draws our table and doesn't bring approximately 18 extra pieces of bread to the table because if and when we run out of bread, the demon/monster child will lose his mind. He's even started pointing at other tables and demanding their food. It's pretty embarrassing, really.

On the plus side, it can be pretty hilarious to watch the child's meltdown when he is told there will be no more eating. (And hey, what's the point of parenting if it isn't to laugh at your child?) At the outset of the meal, he looks like this, happy, content, excited about the filling of his stomach:


But when the food is gone and one of his cursed, horrible, just downright mean spirited parents refuses to get him more, he is likely to collapse into a puddle of tears like the Wicked Witch of the West:



If he's really upset about the state of his stomach, he will stomp (he will seriously slap his hands against the ground as he crawls to show his frustration) his way into the kitchen and cry there in the presence of the food he can't quite get to. This video was shot after he had already eaten a tub of food, a cheese stick, and enough Cheerios to put the Honey Nut Cheerios bee's entire family through college. What you don't see: the three attempts he made to OPEN THE REFRIGERATOR before I started filming. And let me also say, this is a very mild meltdown on the scale of Cooper/Sarlacc Pit Freak Outs:

So this is the world I live in now. Sometimes when Cooper is on the prowl for more food, I half-way lock myself in the pantry and eat an entire granola bar in one bite just so I don't have to share it with him. We've created a little monster. We thought we had a Mogwai but instead we have a Gremlin. Please send help. And food.

Are there diets for babies? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #43: King Baby Birthday

Some of the posts I write concerning my parenting experience include insightful thoughts on parenting or use "hilarious" stories to illustrate a broader point. This is not likely to be one of those. This is just a good old fashioned "here's what we did for our child's birthday" post. Maybe I'll write a more thoughtful piece on "what I learned in my first year of parenting" or something next week or maybe I'll save that for the book I'm probably not going to write but keep telling myself I am. Until then, though, this picture diary of the Coop's big day (or days) will have to do. Now, it should be mentioned that Coop's nickname is The King Baby. I'm sure I've made reference to this in the past. We call him this because A.) He just seems so ridiculously large compared to other babies and B.) He is incredibly demanding and his terrible parents usually have no choice but to acquiesce to his demands. Plus, he's big on sticking his belly out in the presence of those he wishes to impress and that's a classic, "Look how much food I can afford!" king move.

Anyway, because of this nickname, Lindsey decided that Cooper's birthday party should be royal themed. We picked out a few of Cooper's favorite things (swimming, playing with remote controls, balls of any variety, etc.) and created stations for him and his little buddies to take place in while the adult guests ate and mingled.

Lindsey made signs for each of the stations explaining their meaning and inviting his friends to join in:


Once the party got rolling, people took turns in receiving a royal audience on the King's throne:


Then we all adjourned to the royal banquet hall where the King enjoyed mass amounts of sugar for the very first time with his own cake:


He wasn't quite sure what to do with it at first (or with the 50 people staring at him):


But eventually he got the hang of it and dug in:


After that, it was time to receive the tributes from his royal subjects. Fun story: One of my non-parent friends texted me the day of to ask what to get Cooper for his birthday. My response was puffs and a remote control. Well, that's exactly what he got and the King couldn't have been happier:


His little friends helped him unwrap all of his presents, which included multiple toys, a wide assortment of remote controls, and a Rangers hat that is made for a much larger child but that actually fits him pretty well given the size of his giant head:

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Then the King and his friends went for a friend which he usually loves. Just not so much this time:


And after sticking his finger in his friend's mouth:


...and going for a round of Sky Baby:


...the King finished up his night with a photo with his royal jesters:


On Saturday, I took the day off work (a treat for both the King and I) and Lindsey and I spent the morning hanging with our ONE YEAR OLD CHILD WHO CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN HERE FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. Seriously, you guys. Strangely the fastest and slowest year ever.

Then we headed to Ol' South Pancake House where Coop experienced pancakes, french toast, eggs, and hashbrowns for the first time:


And after loading our already chubby child up on enough food for a horse, we headed to the Fort Worth Zoo:


We only stayed for a bit since it was so crowded but Coop went nuts. He talked the entire time, except when I tried to film him doing so at which point he would mysteriously shut down. Kids are jerks.


For the final portion of Cooper's Birthday Weekend Extravaganza, my family came over for a cookout and party, complete with screaming and yelling at the TV when Vince Carter hit this shot. I may have scared my son to death on his birthday but he's going to have to get acclimated to playoff basketball one way or another.

After dinner, we provided Coop with yet another cake of his very own and this time he was a little more sure of himself:


And even took time to give his mom a fist bump:


From there, we moved on to yet another round of gift giving ridiculousness:


Puppy Sister tried to steal Cooper's newly gifted stuffed rabbit:


And at the end of the night, his great grandpa bestowed upon him his very own handmade rocking horse...


...that I'm sure he'll learn to love eventually.


Overall, it was a very successful weekend of celebrating the coolest baby that I personally have ever met. We got to spend some quality time with our friends, our family, and our King Baby and create some new memories and traditions for his celebrations moving forward.

And after all the crazy of the weekend, we got a little more crazy this week when the King Baby got to help welcome his little King Cousin into the world:


Thanks everyone for coming out and partying with our kid and to everyone who has taken the time to read this blog over the last year! Hopefully we can keep it going for the years to come.

Can toddlers drink Red Bull? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #42: First Easter

I've written before about the traditions we create as families and how those evolve over the years as the familial unit changes. According to my social media feeds, most of you celebrate Easter by going to church then finding a field and/or highway median in which to take a family picture. This was our first Easter with the Coop, though I did have to think about that given the seemingly random nature of the Easter schedule. (Side note: Pick a date, Easter. Be a given date or at least a given week. I've looked up the reasoning behind the Easter date about 100 billion times and I immediately forget it every time so I'm beyond knowing this or caring. Pick a date, Easter!) With that in mind, we decided we'd create a new Easter tradition for our family. Step 1.) Sleep in to an embarrassing hour. We churched it up on Saturday night, stayed up late partying (read: "watching Shark Tank"), and celebrated the resurrection of Christ by sleeping so hard that people might have thought I was dead.

Step 2.) Don't see our child until noon. In keeping with step 1, we left the King Baby with my parents on Saturday night and didn't retrieve him until after lunch. So far, our Easter tradition is delightful.

Step 3.) Yell at the TV, cry a little, and lament the loss of Tyson Chandler for the 405th time. It's great to have the Mavs back in the playoffs, obviously, but there is a direct correlation between their games and the number of times I pace around the room, curse the refs, and wonder why I ever started watching sports in the first place.

Step 4.) Present Cooper with an (hastily thrown together) Easter basket that he has no idea what to do with. Side note: Did we recycle all of the eggs he came home with from his various daycare facilities and pretend like we were good parents who packed the eggs themselves? Yes, yes we did.


Step 5.) Watch as Cooper ignores all of the stuff in his Easter basket in order to point at his dog who is howling incessantly.


Step 6.) Take 87 pictures (an actual, literal number) trying to get that one where he's actually looking at the camera and not confused about being outside for, like, the third time in his entire life. We're TV people.


Step 7.) Capture the moment where Cooper inevitably begins to eat the eggs. We all knew this was coming, right?


Step 8.) Force the increasingly grumpy child to take a nap.

Step 9.) Do a ton of yard work for some reason.

Step 10.) After an insanely long nap, force Cooper to get up so that there's still a chance he'll sleep through the night and take pictures, while laughing, of him stumbling around the room like a drunk on St. Patrick's day. He seriously could not keep his abnormally large head up and just spent an hour flopping around like a rag doll. He laughed while being tickled and then whined the rest of the time. Parenthood!

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Step 11.) Cook a delicious Easter meal. And by that I mean, of course, order Papa John's.

Step 12.) Discover that, after having spent more time outside in one day than he'd ever spent outside total in his entire life, and after having had his world pumped full of excitement and demands for smiles, Cooper will turn into a complete mess by 7:30. Put the weeping, angry, exhausted child into his pajamas and put him to bed but not before taking the picture that will forever hallmark his first Easter.

photo (2)Step 13.) Watch The Amazing Race.

Maybe in future iterations of this tradition, the Mavs will win, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #41: Things My Son Has Put in His Mouth

At the end of the month, the King Baby will become the King Toddler. My, how time flies when you're not sleeping having fun. Over the last year, Coop has developed several hobbies. He loves standing, as noted in my last post. For a while, he was obsessed with playing peek a boo. His new bit is pointing at all sources of light, whether natural or artificial. He's always impressed by the console light in the car. But by far his longest lasting hobby and the one to which he dedicates the most time to, is his love of putting things in his mouth. So today I present what basically amounts to a picture diary of some of the ridiculous things this child has shoved in his mouth over the last 11 months and counting. His own finger, like 10 days after birth. Coop3b

My finger. IMG_1268c

His playmat elephant. IMG_1648

This book Santa brought him for Christmas. DSCN1060

A plastic place mat we put down to keep him from chewing on a restaurant table (which lasted all of 6 seconds). IMG_1630b

A water bottle, his favorite chew toy. IMG_1692b

A toy car, in his Santa costume because when Santa gets done with all that toy delivering, he goes a little insane. IMG_1707b

His own shoe. IMG_1745b

The draw string on a friend's jacket. IMG_1807b

Again, his own hand but this time in a really creepy way. IMG_1299b

An unused diaper (not that used diapers haven't made their way in this direction at one point or another). Pic1b

A Christmas box. DSCN1073

This toy hammer that totally does not belong to us. IMG_1926b

A bottle of saline solution or possibly glue. IMG_1987b

A used band-aid after getting his blood taken. photo (2)b

What I think is a bubble mailer envelope but really I'm not sure. IMG_1718b

A plastic cup that makes his face look like The Joker. IMG_1667b

All of his Christmas presents. DSCN1079

Again, his own finger but this time sarcastically after he'd been told not to do it. photo (3)b

His pacifier clip. IMG_1633

And finally, his favorite thing in the entire world, Lindsey's cell phone. photo (4)b

I have no picture of his putting the dog's ear in his mouth but yeah, that's happened, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #40: Stand and Deliver

Once upon a time I operated a movie review website where I published something at least once every week day. I think about that now and laugh/cry at the very idea of having the time to write, proofread, stylize, and publish five times a week. It's like I didn't have a tiny being who was completely dependent upon me for literally everything occupying so much of my time and could fill those need-less hours with watching movies and talking about them! Oh wait, that's exactly what it was like. Sometimes these days I feel like I barely have time to think thoughts let alone put them into word form for others to read. If I could somehow instantly deliver my inner monologue into a blog post then--- no, you know what, that wouldn't work because sometimes it would basically look like the dialogue of the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons except with way more crying. So scratch that idea. All of that is my way of saying, "Hey sorry I haven't written anything in two weeks and haven't talked about my kid in almost a month." Trust me when I say that a lack of commentary on Adventures in Parenting does not in any way mean there have not been any Adventures in Parenting. Rather, I would say, so many Adventures in Parenting that my writing time has been devoted instead to watching reruns of 24 in peace and silence (like every other good red blooded American) and trying to recharge my battery for the next day. Kids are tiring, y'all. And I only have one. Some people have two! Can you believe that?! They actually volunteer to have two of these little leeches! So weird. But anyway, a good deal has happened in the last month and unfortunately I just haven't had the time to document this. "What exactly has happened?" you ask and I'm so glad you did.

First of all, Cooper started crawling. Like really moving. He still doesn't seem all that interested in crawling around on his knees like a normal child but he has the army crawl bit down. He could probably train army cadets on the proper technique and if he doesn't find a job soon, I'm probably going to volunteer his services. He is stinking FAST on the army crawl. Second, he got really into starting peek-a-boo on his own (crawling to the corner of the couch and hiding his face and then popping out excitedly) for about two weeks and it was the cutest thing ever in the history of the world. Unfortunately, I could never get a good recording of it and now he's too cool for peek-a-boo (I blame his no-good, hipster baby friends) so I may never be able to show this off. Third, around the same time that he started bailing on peek-a-boo, he discovered the ability to stand.

We've been standing him up in our laps or on the couch for several weeks in an effort to plant the seed of standing in his little mind and he took to it. It doesn't hurt that anytime he would stay standing for a few second we literally applauded him and cheered him like he just won a spelling bee. He loves to be applauded. Sometimes if he hears cheering and applause on TV, he thinks it's for him and graciously accepts the admiration of his subjects. The King Baby, through and through. But a few weeks ago he army crawled his way over to the windowsill, pulled himself up, and twerked. Okay, maybe he wasn't TRYING to twerk (at least I hope he wasn't) but he stuck his little King Booty out and shook it like a Polaroid picture (*HEY YA!*) partly because he was very pleased with himself and partly because I'm pretty sure his legs were about to give out.


Since this milestone moment, standing has become literally the only thing Cooper wants to do. When he has access to snack puffs, he wants to eat them standing up. When he wants to play, he takes a toy to the coffee table so he can play with it standing up. (And by toy, I mean the remote control, our phones, or worst of all, my iPad. Someday soon we are actually going to have a fist fight over my iPad.) If he needs to poop...well, you get the idea. If he has the strength to stand, he finds something on which to pull himself up and he stands until he is exhausted and then he stands and cries until someone picks him up. If he had a Facebook profile, his interests would just be "Standing."


The only real problem with his standing is that his desire to stand and walk has taken precedence over all other tasks. Who needs to learn to actually crawl, like a normal baby, when there's all this standing to be done? And he's already begun to get super frustrated that his standing doesn't easily transition into walking which he so BADLY wants to do. You guys haven't lived until you've laughed at a standing baby as he throws a temper tantrum because his legs won't keep up with his mind. Or maybe you have lived and I'm super lame. Either way.

photo (1)

Lucy the Beagle does not care for Standing Baby, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #39: Stop Touching Me

A few years ago, Lindsey and I made the trek up to Nashville (everyone please stop calling it NashVegas IMMEDIATELY) for a wedding. On the way back, we stopped in Memphis to spend the evening with some of Lindsey's friends who were the proud parents of a child who was somewhere between the ages of two and three. This kid was everywhere but not in an out of control way, more like a slightly hyper, entertaining way. I thought he was HILARIOUS. His parents ... not quite so much. This was still fairly early in our marriage and we weren't thinking about kids yet but we dutifully asked what it was like to be a parent, what sort of changes they had had to make, etc. And I will never forget one of the responses, when our friend, a reasonable, normal human mother said, "I just sometimes wish that he would stop touching me." I get it now.


We have an awesome baby. The greatest baby, even. His issues and deficiencies are minor as compared to some other babies I have been around or heard about in Parenting Lore. He could be a colicy baby and cry all the time. He could be a Maggie Simpson baby and never STOP being a baby. (Homer and Marge don't get enough credit for keeping it together even though their children NEVER get older.) Or he could be Rosemary's Baby and be, you know, the devil. He is none of these things and for this, I am grateful. But that doesn't mean he doesn't get on my proverbial last nerve from time to time. Or sometimes, all of the time.

In the last few weeks, Cooper has picked up a couple of bad habits. First of all, he's stopped sleeping as well as he once did. He's still not a bad sleeper, per se, but say a kid who sleeps for 7-8 straight hours each night is at 100 Percent Sleeping Capacity, Cooper was once like a 75 and is now closer to a 60. Obviously I'll take 60 over 20 but when your brain adjusts to 75 and thinks the worst is over, that 15 percent difference is killer. Second, he has developed an incessant need to be cuddled. Once upon a time, he needed to be held for five minutes to fall asleep but now it's suddenly a long drawn out process wherein he falls asleep beautifully but wakes immediately if removed from his chosen cuddling position. A five minute process performed two or three times a night has turned into a 15 or 20 minute process performed half a dozen times. Third, and perhaps most egregious among the charges I am levying against him, is his sudden devotion to clutching, grabbing, and clawing at his parents in the most obnoxious ways possible. It's bad enough when your baby won't go to sleep in a timely fashion; when he also spends that entire time pushing your buttons, it can be almost insufferable.

Worse yet, he has sized both of us up and identified our weaknesses. For Lindsey, it's the hair. If she's trying to get him to fall asleep, his first line of action is to grab the edges of her hair and pull with all his might. Now you might be thinking, "He's a baby, how strong is he?" And if you are thinking that, clearly you're not a parent. Pound for pound, babies are the strongest humans on the planet when it comes to pulling and grabbing things. A baby can OWN you with a simple grab and pull.

His method for aggravating me is to focus exclusively on my throat which he pinches and scratches with glee in an effort to stay awake and then holds on long after he's actually fallen asleep but before he's ready to give up the fight. Now look, I realize that this may seem like a small thing. But guys, I really hate things touching my neck. I blame this partially on a childhood fear that someone would rip out my larynx which I know is both horrific and oddly specific but a cousin of mine saw it on Dateline and told me about it and it terrified me. If I was a spy and I was being tortured for information, all my captors would have to do would be to force me to wear a collared shirt with the top button buttoned for more than an hour. I'd spill the beans quicker than Chunk with his hand in a blender. I sleep sans shirt not because I am built like an MMA fighter but because the cuff of my shirt touching my neck would keep me up for hours. I HATE things touching my neck. Somehow my child knows this and uses this information for evil.


It is in these moments when I feel like I am at my worst as a parent. I am patient when I put him down to sleep the first time, a little less patient the second time, and downright aggravated should the task be required a third, fourth, or fifth time. I grin and bear it while he attempts to Dateline me the first go round, remove his little hand over and over again the second time around, and contemplate tying his hands behind his back the third time. I grow more and more frustrated with each whine and attempted throat rip which in turn makes me feel incredibly guilty after the fact. After all, the truth is all this little being wants is some extra time with his dad (and maybe to remove my larynx but I can't really prove this) and yet all his dad wants is to get back to playing Clash of Clans on his iPad.

I imagine any of you who are parents no doubt understand this situation all too well. You love your kid and you love spending time with your kid but these little grievances (and let's be honest, most of the things that drive us crazy are little things, even if your kids are teenagers) push you to moments you'd like to take back. I don't have some grand solution to these missteps or an inspirational quote that will DEFINITELY keep you from putting your baby in a straight jacket. This post is more of the, "Hey, you're not alone; I sometimes hate my child, too" variety that maybe brings you a small moment of relief in the midst of all the hair pulling, throat ripping, or whatever it is your child does to make you insane. And maybe it we're lucky and we all band together, we can convince the children to stop touching us.

Can babies have Nyquil? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #38: Movie Day

You may have heard that I am a big fan of the movies. I've mentioned it a time or two, no big deal if you missed it. (Entire collection of movie reviews here and also a link to my podcast which really is the bee's knees. *shameless plug over*) Some of my favorite childhood, teenage, and adult moments were spent in a movie theater and I'm super excited to share that joy with my kiddo one of these days. Well, "one of these days" came a little early. Now, I wrote about our trip to the drive-in theater last year so I guess technically that was the kid's first movie but as much as I love the drive-in (and I truly do, by the way; Coyote Drive-In is where it's at), it's not the same as being in a theater. With that said, there's nothing that ruins the magic of the theater more than unruly kids.

When you see as many movies as I do, you're bound to run into some crazy situations but nothing can bring me closer to the point of homicide than settling in for a serious film and realizing there's a four year old sitting behind me. It's tough to get emotionally invested in the fight for survival of Pi Patel when you're thinking about your potential trial defense if you decide to murder a child's parents. With experiences such as this in mind, I always intended that Cooper's first trip to the movies would come after he was able to sit relatively still for 90 minutes, pay attention-ish to what happens on screen, and understand the direction to be quiet lest he ruin the movie for everyone else.

Best laid plans, am I right?

This last week has been a trying one around the Gill residence. Coop has been under the weather for several days; never bad enough to take him to the doctor but certainly enough to keep him from sleeping well. If you don't have children and you're considering taking on this responsibility, the best way to test your readiness is to hire a friend to move in with you for a week and pick random times throughout the night to LOSE HIS CRAP and force you to come in and console him. (On second thought, maybe don't hire a friend. This could get weird fast. Hire a drifter instead.) Have him perform this task a few times a night with no rhyme or reason and if by the end of the week you haven't attempted to murder him, then you can have a child. (This post is awfully murder-y isn't it? Sorry guys.) On top of this, my babysitter (read: "mother") has been out of town, leaving us with fewer options for reprieve than we usually have. And while Lindsey has been super busy this week, my work schedule was fairly light. As such, guess who won the "Fussy, Kind of Sick Baby" lottery? This guy. I don't think Cooper left the house between Saturday and Wednesday and most of that time was spent with his increasingly grumpy father. By Wednesday, we had both had it and we needed to get out of the house. I was supposed to see The Lego Movie for my aforementioned podcast so on Wednesday afternoon, Lindsey and I packed up the King Baby and took him to his first movie. At nine months old. Because we are the worst people in the world.

Now here's my justification for taking my actual, literal baby to a movie.

1.) It's a kid's movie. Even at my grumpiest, I've never been upset about a child making noise during a kid's movie. That goes with the territory. In these situations, I make a deal with the parents: I won't get upset about your child making noise in the middle of Monsters University and you don't call the cops over a single male sitting alone in a theater for Monsters University. It's only fair.

2.) We chose the showing that was voted "Least Likely to Be Successful" by its peers: 2 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. There were 6 other people in a giant theater and we sat as far away from everyone else as possible.



When we sat down, I thought it was possible that he might actually watch a good chunk of the movie. Not so much. He was very confused for about 15 minutes and since the speakers were cranked to 11, he held on to his little ears while trying to assess the situation. We kept him fairly happy and quiet through his regularly scheduled feeding. Then we entered Phase 2 wherein I moved to the back row of the entire theater and let him crawl around on the floor. Yes, the dirty, grimy, probably disease-riddled theater floor. In my defense, the back row has carpet so it wasn't quite as bad as the sticky cement floor you hear about in legends but still, let's not pretend like he was crawling around in a pool of hand sanitizer. But he wasn't yelling so I'm counting this as a win. And of course, despite having a giant screen filled with bright colors sitting right in front of him, he decided he was much more interest in the dim little running lights that run around the edge of each row.


This is where our adventure gets really fun because at this point, Cooper decided it would be a great time to WRECK SHOP in his diaper. Fortunately for me, I had to watch the entire movie to make sure I knew what we were talking about during our podcast so Lindsey drew the short straw. And by the way, "I have to watch The Lego Movie in order to talk about it with my friends on our podcast" is probably the greatest excuse to not change a diaper ever. You guys try it and let me know how it works. Lindsey brought him back from the bathroom without pants and missing a sock which is the perfect summary of what it's like to try to change a growing infant in a public bathroom if you're wondering. Soon after he started getting a little grumpy and showed the signs of fatigue that all parents know and thus, the final 15 minutes of the movie were spent like this:


(This is probably for the best as the last few minutes of The Lego Movie are actually quite touching and it makes Cooper uneasy when I cry on him so happily he didn't have to see that.)

The movie wrapped up and we hunkered in the corner of the theater in order to avoid the angry stares we were bound to get from the other 6 movie goers before leaving. On the way out, we stopped by the Lego Movie promo display to get this last picture of this banner day with Cooper in all of his pantsless, one-socked glory.


I should have probably paid for those 6 people's movie tickets, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #37: Nine Months In

This weekend the King Baby took another step toward becoming the King Toddler with the celebration of his ninth month on earth. I say "celebration" but really we sent him to visit his grandparents because Lindsey had work to do and I really, really needed to see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Lack of celebration aside, we crossed the vaunted nine month mark and with it came the all-important nine month check up.


For the uninitiated, new children have to go in for a series of doctor's appointments over the first two years of their lives in order to make sure that they get all the vaccines they need and aren't, like, growing a tail or anything. I wrote about the first visit and it was AWFUL for literally all parties involved, especially the nurse who I had to punch after she inflicted so much pain on my best buddy. Babies go in after months two, four, six, nine, and 12 and then I'm not sure where it goes from there. Probably they'll surprise us and make us bring him in for shots once a week just for kicks. Anyway, I had been told the good thing about the nine month checkup is that the baby doesn't have to get any shots and therefore does not hate his life for three days. Yay! The downside to this appointment, however, is the evaluation beforehand.


We received this stack of papers in the mail last week with a letter asking us to complete the information before coming to our appointment. It started off with the basics: name, date of birth, social security number, etc. Then things got serious.

"Do you have any concerns about your child's development?" Well no, we don't really, he seems pretty solid.

"Does your child crawl?" Well, no, not exactly. I mean, he does the army crawl thing but he hasn't quite mastered the art of getting his knees underneath him yet.

(At this point you start to feel like the packet of paper is judging you and cutting off your answers mid-sentence.)

"Does your child try to pull himself up to stand on his own?" Well, once or twice he sta---

"Does your child pick up finger foods and put them into his mouth?" I don't guess we've even tri---

"Can your child say at least three distinct words?" Oh now you're just messing with us!

Up to this point in Cooper's life, Lindsey and I have done a very good job of not comparing him to other babies or getting too caught up on the developmental milestones. He's been a little behind here and there but I usually chalk these issues up to his abnormally large head which made it difficult for him to sit up on his own without tumbling over like an upside down Weeble and thus, a slight delay. But now we're getting down to the nitty gritty. Kids Cooper's age are crawling all over the place, they're working on standing up on their own, they're learning how to play chess, they're smoking clove cigarettes...I mean, it's a brave new world for these kids and Cooper's pretty much content to army crawl and wrestle with his giant stuffed monkey (which is, by the way, the cutest thing in the entire world). All of these things I can handle without insecurity or freaking out but now he's supposed to be saying three distinct words??? No, I refuse to accept this. I draw the developmentally delayed line at actual human speech at nine months. You take it back, judgmental packet of paper, or I shall throw you into the fireplace and leave you there forever because I can't figure out how to turn on the fireplace in this new house that we've owned for 18 months so maybe we should filling out a packet of information on my development.

Begrudgingly, we acquiesced to the demands of the judgmental packet of paper and filled out the requested information with as little insecurity as we could manage, and headed into this one glorious check up in which the King Baby would not have to be stuck with needles. Our doctor, who I should mention once again is terrific, thumbed through the paperwork, assured us our kid was just fine in spite of what that blasted paper might have indicated, and sent us on our way. Except for one last thing, of course, and that would be the blood sample. Nooooo!!! We thought we were going to get out of this easy but instead we just traded a shot for a finger prick and that awful collecting method wherein the nurse literally wrings out his finger like she's Seymour trying to feed Audrey II until she had enough blood to reanimate a corpse. I am both proud and embarrassed to report that Cooper handled this event SIGNIFICANTLY better than I did. He fussed but didn't cry, I curled up in a ball in the corner. I can't handle that kind of blood, you guys. Actually it's not so much the blood as it is the method of acquiring that blood. I'm getting lightheaded just thinking about it. Gross. So gross.

After it was all over, the sadist nurse strapped a band-aid around the GAPING HOLE SHE HAD JUST PUNCTURED INTO MY SON'S FINGER, then had to come back with another band-aid to hold the first one in place. This mass of fabric was, of course, incredibly interesting to Coop who immediately put his finger directly into his mouth and had the bandage pulled off entirely within five minutes. So now if the next packet of paper asks me, "Can your child pull a bloody band-aid off his finger using only his mouth?" I will be able to answer confidently.


Weebles wobble but they don't fall down, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #36: Evolution of Grumpiness

There is a perception concerning Cooper that he is the "perfect" baby. People approach us constantly (often these people are random strangers; this is not something you ever get used to or at least I haven't gotten used to it in the first 9 months) to talk about how great he is or to warn us that most babies are not this perfect. More than one nursery employee at church refers to him simply as, "The Perfect One." And hey, I get it. He's a very good natured kid, he loves people, and he's generally quite affable in public. I'm not sure where he gets this as the older I get, the more like Nick Miller I become. But hey, Cooper is much more of a people person than I am and those big blue eyes certainly don't dilute his charm. But I tell you all this not to brag about my kid but rather to illustrate the point that perception isn't always accurate. Now, we've been very, very blessed by the fact that Cooper has never been much of aAngryCoop crier and he's not one to throw a big fit. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have his bad days (or weeks, occasionally) or that he's always on his best behavior. Secretly, he's a bit of a whiner and a grump and I'm sure he'll be angry at me for spilling the beans here. But he can just deal with it because I am the ADULT here and I can do what I want and what's he going to do, cry abou--- oh no, he's going to cry! He's going to cry all day in order to exact his revenge! He has all of the power, this is a bad idea.

Anyway, there are two particular events each day that truly put this transition on display: Bedtime and meal time. At bedtime, his laughs shift to whines and cries within the same breath and as soon as I can get good footage of this phenomenon that is all but equal to that of the Northern Lights, rest assured I will post it here. The meal time transition is a more drawn out process. I call it the Evolution of Grumpiness. Here's how it works:

Phase 1: Life's a Happy Song

During phase one, the King Baby is pleased with the tribute his subjects have brought him. He's excited, he's hungry, and he's eager to get this show on the road.

Phase 2: Hulking Out

In phase two, the excitement has worn off and has been replaced by voraciousness. Pausing three seconds between spoonfuls is completely unacceptable and the King wants to make sure you understand the error of your ways. This is also the phase in which the the food starts to kick in. We call that body clenching, open mouthed exclamation "Hulking Out." The food is seeping into his blood stream and it is obviously embodying him with supernatural power that he can't quite harness just yet. Give it time. I've already bought him the purple pants.

Phase 3: The Full Grump

Finally, in phase three, the real grumpiness kicks in. What makes him so angry, you ask? The thing babies hate most in this world is a delay in the delivery of food. If you don't believe me, take a slightly hungry baby who is on a regular schedule, and try to delay that schedule by, oh, 3 minutes and watch him FREAK OUT. While the taste and general consistency of baby food is undoubtedly better than formula, the one advantage formula has is its delivery system. It is a constant drip whereas baby food requires patience, patience the King Baby just doesn't have. Table banging and crocodile tears are a regular part of meal time and overall grumpiness is often the byproduct. He basically becomes one of the characters in a JG Wentworth commercial. It's not a pretty sight, though I guess we could probably feed him faster if we'd stop filming him.

So there you have the ugly truth. "The Perfect One" is really a serious grumper, a dark family secret that has haunted us for many months. Hopefully he won't make me regret letting you in on the lie.

At least he's no longer a vampire, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #35: An Applebee's Christmas

I would guess that for most of you, like me, your holidays are somewhat ruled by tradition. We put up Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving. We go to over to a friend's house for a holiday movie marathon at some point every year. We go to Lubbock for Christmas with my family and Lindsey's family usually follows the weekend after Christmas. From one event to the next, it's like a checklist of holiday activity that usually falls into the same patter from year to year. This year we had to veer off course for two reasons: 1.) My sister got married the Friday before Christmas so instead of heading out of town, everyone came here. 2.) Perhaps you heard, we had a baby this year so literally EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD IS DIFFERENT. As such, this time around we were forced to include some new traditions that may or may not make their way into the checklist from here on out.

Tradition #1: Be Incredibly Grumpy

At the aforementioned wedding, Cooper was passed around from person to person, group to group. He was the life of the party. He stayed up WAY too late, flirted with a TON of girls (his game is unbelievable), and danced the night away. We're now two weeks out from the wedding and I'm still not sure he's completely recovered. On Christmas Eve, he grumped about as much as a person can grump.

Cooper with dog 1 smaller

Tradition #2: Read The Night Before Christmas

One of Cooper's Christmas presents was a board book of Twas the Night Before Christmas. Before putting him to bed, Lindsey and I sat down with him and read this book to him and let me tell you, he loved it. He always gets excited about his books but he was BONKERS on this night. One of the coolest moments of parenthood thus far, right up there with the time he deliberately ripped one in a friend's direction.

Tradition #3: Sleep Christmas Day Away

So you know how most kids are just chomping at the bit to get up on Christmas and check out the stuff Santa brought them? Not Coop. This probably has something to do with the fact that he's eight months old. But also, as mentioned before, he partied way too hard at the wedding and his little body hasn't recovered. So when Lindsey put him in bed with me a little after 8 o'clock, I figured we were in for a short nap before he'd start whining and force us to get up and play (and open presents). Cut to more than four hours later and we were STILL all chilling with Cooper fast asleep. I got more sleep than I've had in weeks, I checked my Twitter feed, I played some Skip-Bo on my iPad (which is DEFINITELY what Apple had in mind when they designed the iPad), and finally I got bored and woke him up. So our family opened presents at about 1 pm on Christmas Day because WE'D SPENT THE WHOLE MORNING AND EARLY AFTERNOON SLEEPING. There's no way this tradition carries on into Cooper's childhood but I'm going to pretend like I don't know this and bask in this new family tradition.

Tradition #4: Have Almost No Presents Under the Tree

Because we're the best at parenting, we didn't buy any of Cooper's presents until the evening of the 23rd. Okay, that's not entirely true. I ordered a couple of things offline the week before and neither of them arrived until the 26th. Yay convenience and laziness! Also Lindsey bought him a present on Black Friday and it just so happened to be the exact same thing my uncle bought and presented to Cooper on Christmas Eve. So for our child's first Christmas, we had three presents under the tree, all of which were grabbed out of the bottom of the barrel, "you're terrible parents so you'll take what we have left and like it" selection at Target. Crushing it.



Tradition #5: Eat Christmas Lunch at Applebee's

Our plan all along had been to eat brunch at IHOP, with Denny's as the slightly sadder backup plan. Then Cooper slept in until 1. So we headed to IHOP for...lunner? I don't know. What do you call the time between lunch and dinner? I'm going with lunner. Anyway, we headed to IHOP for lunner at about 2:30 only to discover that every human in the DFW Metroplex who had not cooked a delicious Christmas ham for their family was at IHOP. I'm going to guess (because we didn't go inside) that the wait was somewhere between three hours and "the amount of time that Rip Van Winkle slept." We rolled over to our backup plan but Denny's, too, was packed to the brim. Our last option was Applebee's, which is pretty lame even in the best of circumstances and genuinely depressing on Christmas Day. Our meal was awful, the place smelled like Sad, and someone called Cooper a girl. That's never happened before and it was weird. Maybe this is what we get for taking our child to Applebee's in his pajamas on his first Christmas. Here's hoping he never remembers this.

Tradition #6: Give Lucy a Present

When we got back from our delicious meal at Applebee's, I started to do a little cleaning. I pulled the trash bag out, half-full with food from Christmas Eve Dinner the night before, and started cramming in discarded wrapping paper and the like. Then Sleepy Grumpy King Baby started acting up and I put the bag down, forgetting that it started as a kitchen trash bag and was not, in fact, filled only with wrapping paper. Two hours later I got up from my nap (Cooper seriously could've slept ALL DAY) to find this:


While the perpetrator of the act sat without moving or looking at me as if, like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, I wouldn't be able to see her if she didn't make any sudden movements.


Tradition #6: Dress Cooper Like Santa

We put a lot of effort (much more so than we put into buying him gifts) into finding Cooper a Christmas Day outfit. You'd think it would have been easy to find a "First Christmas" shirt that didn't look like it was made for a dog that no one loves (they were all really sad, guys) but we had no luck. Finally, right before Christmas, Lindsey found a Santa costume that fit The King Baby and thus, he became Santa for the evening. The only problem was the hat didn't fit because he needs a man's sized hat for his giant head.


Also, if you've ever wondered what Santa looks like after a hard night's work and enough cookies to send an entire country into a diabetic coma, here it is:


All told, it was a solid and memorable start to our Christmases as a family instead of just a couple and thanks to Applebee's, we set the bar low enough that Cooper can't expect too much next time around.

Just reserved a table at IHOP for Christmas 2017, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #34: Baby Food

A couple of months ago I wrote a how-to blog on feeding your child rice cereal for the first time. Baby food follows the same step-by-step instruction for the most part except the parents are by now smart enough to feed him while he is fully dressed (idiots!) and, at least in our case, the baby is decidedly less upset about his progression to the next level of food. I heard from many of when I wrote about rice cereal concerning your own baby's rejection or at least suspicion regarding that "food" substance and I think it boils down to two things: 1.) No one likes change. This is particularly true of small humans who have only been on the planet for a handful of months and don't have the coping skills to deal with transition. Of course they don't like being spoon fed when their food comes so much quicker from a bottle.

2.) As mentioned previously, rice cereal is disgusting and should be ashamed to share a name with both rice and cereal.

Hence, the transition from rice cereal to baby food was much easier than the one from formula to rice cereal. We were told to start with one feeding a day and to feed Cooper the same type of baby food for three or four days in case he turned out to be allergic to something. (Side note: From here on out, if I write something like, "We were told" or, "Our research indicated" or, "We found out", you should just read it as, "Lindsey researched this topic extensively and told Brian what the plan was and he agreed." I'm a very involved parent thus far but when it comes to researching procedure, I just trust that Lindsey will find the right answer. Hopefully she's not attempting to kill our child and thereby pulling me in as an accessory.) Lindsey bought several kinds of baby food, including sweet potatoes, peaches, carrots, bananas, and we began our baby food odyssey with sweet potatoes. It started out well:


Having become used to the "chair = food" equation, he knew there was a delicious awful bowl of "rice" "cereal" headed his way. What a treat! But this turned out to be a little different and he wasn't exactly sure what to make of it:


Then he WAS sure what to think about it and started reached for the container, demanding more:


Then he DID get more and he got so excited about it he needed to compose a song for the occasion:


Then Lucy, the Beagle, got upset because as usual we were paying more attention to Cooper than her and so she started ottering (rolling around on the floor, on her back, pushing off like an otter in a river) right next to Cooper in order to distract him from the task at hand:


Side note: I rarely talk about or post pictures of Lucy in this space because I've only just decided for good that we're keeping her instead of turning her into a medical study for retarded dogs and I didn't want her to spoil the archives of this blog should she be sent packing. Kind of like how an ex-girlfriend ruins a family picture. This means you're part of the family, Lucy, so don't mess it up.

In the end, having covered himself in sweet potatoes and his belly full of a foreign substance that would very soon make for an incredibly "interesting" diaper, the King Baby was content:


Since this time, we've continued the Cooper-Baby Food experiment with a variety of flavorful choices. He thoroughly enjoys sweet potatoes, tolerates bananas, and has a hard time processing carrots. I wish I had a picture of the time I fed him peas but I was too busy laughing hysterically to hold the camera still. Suffice it say, he was NOT a fan and I can't blame him. On smell alone, few things are worse than peas. By far his favorite, the food that must surely come directly from the hand of God himself, is peaches. Once the taste of peaches hits his little tongue he starts shaking and moving and dancing in his seat and if you take even a fraction of a second too long to spoon the next mouthful in, he will straight up YELL at you until you rectify your mistake. It's a little bit terrifying. On the other hand, this is what he looks like after he has peaches so I guess I can't complain too much:


If I had to choose between rice cereal and pea baby food, I would probably just die, Brian