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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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

Adventures in Parenting #33: School Pictures

As I've mentioned before, Cooper has been enrolled in our church's preschool (YCW) this semester. Because if someone else can take care of your baby for six hours a day, two days a week, you let them do that. YCW has been an outstanding experience for us and I don't just say that because some of the employees read my blog. Truly, it's been a real blessing and we've loved having Cooper involved in the program, even at such a young age. He gets to spend a few hours each week with his peers, we get a few hours of absolute work time, and we get stoked up on art that Cooper has "made" in class. It's a win-win-win. A great many new experiences come along with your King Baby's enrollment in a preschool like this and maybe at the end of the year I'll write a full recap. But one of the big events is, of course, Picture Day. Having run a youth sports program for the last five years, I know all too well the importance of Picture Day. One year during soccer our Picture Day was rained out and when it became apparent that rescheduling was going to be an issue, you might have thought I'd told the families I was going to take possession of their first born sons considering the outcry. It is a BIG deal.

Even still, when we got the notice that Picture Day would be taking place, I was caught off guard as I'd never really thought about the need for Picture Day for a five month old baby (at the time). But we complied and dressed Cooper in his cutest casual attire (no one likes the kid who gets super dressed up for school pictures, nerds), hosed him down with Axe Body Spray (no we didn't), and sent him off for pictures with a man known only to us as Mr. Potato Head Photographer. I, like you, have many questions about a man who calls himself Mr. Potato Head but that's neither here nor there.

A couple of weeks later we were notified that we could pick up our photos the next day. Now, we hadn't placed an order for any photos or a package of photos, they'd just been printed for us anyway. I found this process weird but apparently it's quite common for veterans of Picture Day. When I arrived to drop Coop off, there was an envelope with his name on it waiting for me and inside were six sheets of pictures in various sizes and varieties for me to choose from. I could buy all of them for one price or could essentially create my own picture combo meal package and take only the sheets I wanted. I called Lindsey (because obviously this was not a decision that I could make on my own, duh) and we settled on three sheets of photos for the price of one billion dollars and six head of cattle. No, I'm kidding, they were pretty reasonably priced all things considered. This does leave us with one small issue, however: there were six sheets printed for my perusal and I took only three. What happens to the other three? Are the photos of my adorable King Baby just thrown away? Sold to an ad agency that will use them in a JC Penny catalog? Used as filler in new picture frames? I'm not sure and the question will haunt me.

Anyway, here's the end result which, if I do say so myself, is ridiculously cute. You're welcome, world.


Do they still make JC Penny's catalogs? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #32: The Pumpkin Patch

Okay, so the event that is about to be described happened a while ago. How long ago, you ask? I don't even remember. It might as well have been three years before Cooper was even born. I haven't posted it up here because A.) Work, familial illness, and general fatigue have taken away my free time and I haven't been able to write as much and B.) I don't really have any funny stories to go with this post, only pictures. I know you jokers are only here to see pictures of my adorable King Baby and could care less what I have to say but I like telling stories and I'm mostly only here to entertain myself. Regardless, here is the account of our trip to the Pumpkin Patch you've all been waiting for. I cannot recall having ever visited a pumpkin patch as a child. At the very least, it was not a family tradition as it apparently is for many families. As such, I had given absolutely no thought to the idea of when we would be heading to Cooper's first pumpkin patch extravaganza. According to all of you people, however, I should have. When fall began to slowly roll in, people kept asking me when we were taking Cooper to the pumpkin patch. Like, a LOT of people. Like, random strangers in Applebee's asked me when we were headed to the pumpkin patch. Apparently this is some rite of passage I had no knowledge of and to avoid the pumpkin patch with such a cute baby would be tantamount to sacrilege. I began to feel like I should just announce to any room I walked into that we hadn't taken Cooper to a pumpkin patch yet and then wait patiently for my stoning. You people are serious about pumpkin patches.

Luckily our friends Jeff and Carrie were on top of things and invited us to join them as they took their daughter to a local pumpkin patch. This was great news because I really couldn't take many more stonings. We headed out to Colleyville on a Friday afternoon (again, this could have been in 2007 for all I know; it feels like an age ago and Cooper looks COMPLETELY different now) and took in the sights and smells of a down-on-the-farm pumpkin patch. And the smells. Oh the smells!

Best of all, Cooper was in a really good mood and put on his happy face for most of the afternoon's events. He posed with his mom, paying no attention to the chicken behind him that had just pecked the fire out of another boy's hand:


Then he sat down on the world's tiniest bench and took hold of a pair of pumpkins:


Just seconds after that photo he tried to put one of the pumpkins in his mouth. Not, like, the pumpkin stem, mind you. I mean the whole pumpkin. He dreams big. Next, Cooper and Emma took up their obligatory positions behind the plywood cowboy and cowgirl. Neither of them really knew what to do with this:


We then took some time for a father and son photo. If only the rest of these jokers would have gotten out of shot. Just because this is a public place doesn't mean you can jump in our pictures, bro!


We stopped down for a quick round of Sky Baby, Cooper's second favorite game behind "Farting":


And finally, the three of us sat down for the rare family photo, which Cooper CLEARLY cared about greatly:


So there you have it. Cooper's first trip to the vaunted pumpkin patch. Now please, stop throwing rocks at me.

White pumpkins weird me out, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #31: Halloween

Of all our holidays and traditions, I find Halloween to be, without question, the strangest. I mean, there are odd things about every holiday and tradition of ours but I think most of them could be explained away fairly easily. Not Halloween. Imagine an alien race landed on earth the day before Halloween then compared October 30th to October 31st. It would make no sense. Everyone still has to go to work, people dress up in weird costumes, and at the end of the day, you have to give complete strangers candy or else they will egg your house. Let's just face it, that's odd. Halloween is also the only holiday (can we even call it a holiday if we still have to go to work and school?) for which my opinion has changed over the years. I loved it when I was a kid (OBVIOUSLY) because of the aforementioned free candy. Then I didn't care about it because I was too old to get the free candy. Then I hated it because Halloween meant dressing up (ugh) and going to parties (double ugh) and general buffoonery that I don't care for (get off my lawn!). And now it's transitioned into this nice little break in the monotony, during which I have to do nothing except buy candy and after which I can pretty much just sit on my couch and relax. That's my kind of party!

Like everything else, adding Cooper to the mix changes Halloween, of course. The next 12-15 Halloweens will be consumed with costumes and candy and no you can't stay home from school because your stomach hurts and yes, dad has to eat all of your Reese's peanut butter cups to make sure they're safe, etc. This year, though, things were pretty simple. No trick or treating or crazy parties, just a costume and handfuls of Reese's Pieces crammed into Cooper's bottle. That's not legal, you say? Nevermind.

Cooper actually got two costumes this year because we want to make it clear to him early on that he can have anything and everything he wants. No, because we bought him a costume for a themed birthday party he attended (yup) and then wanted something more "us" for his actual costume. As such, he attended his YCW class on Thursday morning dressed as a monkey because the state requires that all Halloween first timers must have an animal costume:


For his evening attire, we went a little more contemporary. Or perhaps I should say "nerdy." For those of you who actually know Lindsey and I, it may come as a surprise that I actually came up with this idea given that Lindsey is definitely the creative one in this family and also I hate costumes more than almost anything else in the world that does not include genocide, homelessness, cancer, John Travolta's mere existence, etc. But I felt like we'll only get a couple of years where we get to choose Cooper's Halloween costumes ourselves so we should take the opportunity to imprint some of our style on him. Hence, Elliott and E.T.


Once we transformed Cooper into Elliott, we headed outside with some friends and sat at the curb in order to hand out candy in a place where our dog wouldn't have a conniption every time the doorbell rang. At the curb, Cooper became keenly aware of his new pal and didn't know what to make of him:


It's cool, Coop. Lots of kids were scared of E.T. BUT YOU WILL NOT BE ONE OF THEM. Soon, though, the attention shifted from E.T. to the pack of Reese's Pieces sitting on his stroller tray. Now, you might expect him to reach for these treats but A.) His body was strapped into that stroller pretty tight and B.) The hoodie we bought for him is sized for a husky four year old so he didn't have too much control over his limbs. Instead, he used what he had at his disposal: his mouth.


Good effort, little buddy. Once he gave up on the Quest for Reese's, he posed for a nice picture with his mom:


Then sat down with me for a photo opportunity before suddenly realizing that he hadn't eaten in WELL OVER three hours and he needed food IMMEDIATELY:


So now you know all those ridiculously cute photos I've been showing you over the last six months are a lie. This is parenting, ladies and gentlemen! Look at that picture and know it is true! Fortunately, after guzzling a 7 (that's like the child version of a 40, obviously), he returned to his normal self and got to spend some time with his buddy Carter. Cooper and Carter have only just begun to acknowledge each other and they're not too sure about one another but on this night, they kept it civil and were therefore able to bring together two of Steven Spielberg's greatest creations: E.T. and Jaws. If only another kid had shown up as Indiana Jones.


Next year he's going as Hungry from the Weight Watchers commercials, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #30: Sick Baby Week

As you may or may not remember, last week was Sick Baby Week. Wait, did you guys not celebrate Sick Baby Week? It was just us? That's a real shame. You missed out on a TON of fun activities and events that I'm sure you would have wanted to be a part of. Next time around I'll make sure you all get the memo. Among the many amenities that Sick Baby Week offers, some of my favorites are: - Not sleeping! - Constant crying! - A helplessness that manifests itself in the feeling that you have no idea what you're doing! - A complete lack of patience with everyone in your life! - And my favorite, the very real consideration of why you signed up for this whole thing in the first place!

Seriously, though, guys, Sick Baby Week is THE WORST. It started on Sunday morning when our normally congenial little King Baby was grumpy and quick to anger. No matter what I did, he could only be pacified for short periods of time. This general fussiness continued through small group but we just chalked it up to teething which he's been threatening to begin for a couple of weeks. But after the group left, his temperature spiked and he was suddenly ON FIRE. His fever rose (up to 103.2) along with his anger and before long, it became obvious that this was Sick Baby Week and we'd better buckle up.

Now, we've been very lucky and blessed to this point because on top of being an all-around cool kid, Cooper has been incredibly healthy. After that extra day in the hospital under the tanning bed right after birth, it's like he wants to make sure he doesn't have to go back ever, a stance that I wholeheartedly endorse. He's had one little baby cold that dissipated quickly and otherwise it's been smooth sailing. So this was a crash course in Sick Baby and it was BRUTAL.

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Sunday night was divided into shifts because A.) We had to make sure Cooper's fever didn't jump up into the 104 range (which is apparently the magic number for a doctor freak out) and B.) In his sickness, he reverted to his newborn way of life wherein he would only sleep if someone was holding him. 10 pm to 3:30 am was my shift then Lindsey took him through to daylight. Come the morning, we took turns hurriedly getting work stuff done while the other person sat with a screaming child who absolutely could not be consoled and would not calm down enough to sleep. We finally got to take him to the doctor's office where he sat whimpering on Lindsey's shoulder before nodding off into the best sleep he'd had in 24 hours...right before the doctor came into the room and had to jostle him. You're killing me, Smalls. Our doctor checked his ears, confirmed the suspected ear infection, then pried open his little mouth (side note: Sick Baby does NOT care for tongue depressors) and showed us the THOUSANDS, POSSIBLY MILLIONS of ulcers lining the back of Cooper's throat. AHHHH!!! It was a horrifying sight. No wonder Sick Baby is so incredibly angry, his mouth is one giant ulcer.

Turns out, our little bundle of cries and shouts had contracted a hand, foot, and mouth virus on top of his ear infection. Here's the fun part though: There is no medicine for said virus. just have to let it run its course. Now, I know I've only been a parent for six months. But in my experience, this is the worst sentence you can say to a parent because what you're really saying is, "You know how your child is literally screaming anytime he's not asleep and you have work and stuff that needs to get done but you can't because there are no breaks when you have a sick child and also you feel helpless because you can't help this little guy at all? That's going to continue for at least two more days." I was tempted to ask if he could give ME something to help me get through this week, like heroin or at least methadone, but he couldn't hear me over Cooper's screams anyway so it didn't matter.

The next two days are somewhat of a blur, like that scene in Garden State where Zach Braff just stands in a sea of people as they run past him in fast forward except with a brain-numbing noise emanating from the crowd. We slept in shifts while the other cared for Sick Baby. I turned in one of the least valuable weeks of work I have ever been a part of and that includes the time I worked at Six Flags and spent the vast majority of a three day work week sleeping in the walk-in freezer. I came to live for Cooper's five daily feedings because at least in these moments he couldn't scream, only whimper as he tried to chug his formula. Truth be told, and I think any parent will back me up on this, while the screams and cries brought me close to death, the absolute worst part was the look of sheer bewilderment and genuine pain that my little buddy wore on his face while screaming and crying. Three days of that will seriously bring you to the point of wondering what in the world people were thinking letting you be in charge of a baby in the first place. The helplessness is the killer.

Only two things appeased our Sick Baby for short periods of time:

1.) Singing. I'm not a great singer and neither is Lindsey but during Sick Baby Week, you would think we were both warming up for an American Idol audition. Maybe as a folk band like Dr. Funke's 100 % Natural Good Time Family Band Solution but who knows, I haven't really thought about it. I sing to Cooper a little when trying to get him to sleep but Sick Baby Week took this to a whole new level as I exhausted just about every song I could think of, in constant repetition, because it kept the kid quiet. Thank God for Rich Mullins, Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, and every other white person band that I've been listening to for years. And, yeah, so what if I did soothe him at one point with an acoustic version of Kanye West's "Gold Digger"? Don't judge me, ESPECIALLY during Sick Baby Week.

2.) Cell phones. Like all children of the 21st century, Cooper is mildly obsessed with screens, particularly the screens attached to our iPad and iPhones. He reaches and grabs for them continuously and it's always a fun game to try and send out that vital fantasy football-related text message while simultaneously keeping the phone away from the baby. In the midst of all the screaming and crying, we finally relented and Lindsey handed off her phone to Cooper, who was finally able to get hold of the thing he coveted so much...and promptly stick it in his mouth. Apple gives you a free replacement iPhone if your current one gets clogged with baby drool, right?

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Finally, on Wednesday night, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Cooper was still angry but significantly less so, his fits of screaming and crying were fewer and farther between, and occasionally he even eeked out a smile or two. He slept through the night on for the first time since Friday and woke up his happy, smiley self, who demanded we let him go to YCW for the day. (Okay, so it was more like we demanded he go to YCW so that I might take an undisturbed nap.) Our trial was over and we were welcomed into the Brotherhood of Parents Who Have Made it Through Sick Baby Week Without Killing Each Other, though we were granted only partial access because I came very close to murdering our dog in order to release the tension of the week. I'll take what I can get.

Methadone for Parents of Sick Babies is a Burgeoning Market, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #29: Six Months and Baby Talk

LukeBD Our King Baby turned six months old this weekend which is CRAZY because A.) It seems like we've had this kid in our lives for much longer and B.) It simultaneously seems like only yesterday that we brought home a tiny bundle of grumbles that, in hindsight, looked a bit more Native American than I originally thought.

DSCN0433Over the last six months I've documented quite a few of Cooper's milestones, firsts, etc. as he's knocked off a few of those important steps to becoming a toddler. Now, he's always been a bit of a talker (hence his former title, the King of the Grumbles) but in the last few weeks he's really stepped up his game and started vocalizing like a champ. It's usually in short bursts mixed with a few sighs and coos but every once in a while he really gets going and delivers a long diatribe on whatever subject it is that's got him worked up. Recently, too, he's figured out how to scream which makes these little outbursts even more entertaing (ESPECIALLY in public places). This weekend, while we watched football together, something got his attention (probably Tech's confounding turnovers that cost us the game) and the result can be seen in the video below. I'd like to apologize upfront for the prominent place my foot takes in this video as I did not realize Lindsey was filming and she did not move the camera three inches closer to avoid this situation. Hopefully my foot doesn't take too much away from the cute baby.

Cute babies > Gross Man Feet, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #26: Creeper in the Corner and Mischief Managed

CREEPER IN THE CORNERIn my extensive experience as a parent, I have found that one of the most important parts of balanced, effective parenting is being honest about your child. We all love our kids but sometimes our kids do stupid things. Or weird things. Or creepy things. I mean, there's a reason why I have compared my son to both a vampire and a cannibal in the first four months of his life. Honesty. More often than not, our little grumble is easily one of the cutest babies on the planet. That's just science. But sometimes he does strange, weird, creepy things and those moments are just as important to point out as the super cute things.

Case in point: The Creeper in the Corner. As we were eating dinner recently, I propped Cooper up on the bench next to me so I could attempt to inhale some food without dripping chicken grease on him (not that that's ever happened before). A few minutes later, Lindsey started laughing because, as you can see below, the kid started trying to suck his thumb but in such a way that suggested he was getting away with something naughty. See for yourself.


I mean, really, he's a little mustache away from having his name added to a watch list. I like this one because he realized he'd been caught in the act and he's slightly embarrassed but not so embarrassed as to knock it off. Total creeper.


MISCHIEF MANAGED One of the fun things about parenting is watching as your child develops a personality and becomes less of a sad, crying little mass of spit and grumbles and more of an actual person. Cooper brought a massive amount of personality to the table early on but seeing him progress further and further in this department is awfully cool. Along with personality, however, comes instances of mischievousness. Now, it's highly enjoyable to see my son get himself into little spots of mischief at the moment because despite his best efforts, he is still relatively immobile. I'm sure in a few months, when he's pulling DVDs out of my meticulously alphabetized collection or yanking the dog's tail, I'll be less enthused. (Not to mention the trouble he's bound to get into as a teenager; Jesse Pinkman has me pretty freaked out right now.) In the meantime, though, these little instances of mischief are highly entertaining.

Recently, I was hanging out with Coop on a Friday afternoon. He was in a pretty good mood, which meant he was kicking like crazy and talking up a storm. As such, he was getting kind of sweaty. (This boy will definitely need some deodorant at a very early age. Like, does Old Spice make deodorant for babies? Because maybe they should.) I was trying to get some things done so I laid him down on his play mat to work out some of the energy. Before doing so, I undid one of the buttons on his romper because he was still wearing his pajamas at 4 in the afternoon (DON'T JUDGE ME!!!) and I thought he might need a little more freedom. He seemed pleased so I went back to my desk and finished up some work. I was gone for maybe ten minutes (and be gone I mean sitting 10 feet away, facing him) and when I looked up, this is what I found:


Not only had he wriggled himself out of his clothing, he also turned himself all the way around so that he could watch the TV. I've seen him turn around before but this clothing removal is new ground. Apparently he just needed one unbuttoned button to make it work. I'm now concerned that we have a little Will Ferrell on our hands ("We're going streaking through the quad!"). I think this face says it all:


I think we're in over our heads, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #25: YCW

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, Lindsey and I are all about passing our child off into the arms of just about anyone who has never been the inspiration for an episode of Breaking Bad. (BTW, I'm in the middle of binge watching that show right now. Woah. Heavy stuff, bro.) We took our predisposition for passing the baby buck to a new level this week by enrolling Coop in YCW. (To the uninitiated, that stands for "Young Children's World", a program run by our church.) It was Lindsey who suggested this course of action which is good since I didn't even know we could take babies to YCW because, you know, I only work at the church, I can't be expected to pay attention to what's actually happening there. So we signed him up months ago, probably before he was even born, and classes began on Monday. My little buddy was pretty stoked for his first day because A.) He loves people and B.) He is a baby and therefore had no idea that he was about to spend the day with a complete stranger.

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This kid is a loyal fan. He wears his Rangers gear even when they're playing like garbage. We packed him up and took him to Baby School where I'm assuming he will be learning how to fart more proficiently and possibly how to shove his entire hand into his mouth. I mean, he's already pretty good at both of those things but he's probably not quite ready to go pro just yet.

Last week we came up to fill out all of Cooper's paperwork and met his teacher, Ms. IMG_1342bKathy, and got a chance to see his room. It's kind of weird seeing my kiddo's name on a placard above a cubby hole, mostly because it's just another reminder that I am an adult and in charge of a human life, even though I have spent an inordinate amount of time this week playing Madden. (Also I had to Google "cubby hole" to make sure that was a real thing. So that's a part of my search history I'll never be able to take back.)

Lindsey signed him in, I handed him over, and then we took the obligatory "First Day of (Fake) Baby School" picture with his teacher. Because we're nothing if not traditionalists. Now, I have had multiple friends, who know me to be a complete wuss who tears up during Google commercials, if I cried when dropping the kiddo off. The answer: surprisingly no. It's hard to get all worked up when A.) Your office is approximately 200 feet from the room your son is in and B.) Dropping your kid off for a few hours gives you license to go home and take a nap. Naps trump tears every time, friends.

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And anyway, I'm pumped that he's getting to experience this, even if he's too young to know what he's experiencing. He'll get to be around three little friends he wouldn't be around otherwise, he gets even more experience hanging out with adults who are not his parents, and he will be surrounded by our friends who work in YCW and will get the opportunity to be blessed by the gifts that they bring to their place of work. Plus, did I mention my nap?

Naps should be part of the standard work day, Brian