Adventures in Parenting #50: Halloween

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

We didn't even get to go egging, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #48: Cut It Out

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

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












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

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


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

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

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



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

Adventures in Parenting #46: Basketball Jones

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

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

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

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

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


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

I might be a little too psyched about this, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #42: First Easter

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures in Parenting #40: Stand and Deliver

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

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

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


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


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

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Lucy the Beagle does not care for Standing Baby, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #36: Evolution of Grumpiness

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

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

Phase 1: Life's a Happy Song

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

Phase 2: Hulking Out

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

Phase 3: The Full Grump

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

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

At least he's no longer a vampire, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #35: An Applebee's Christmas

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

Tradition #1: Be Incredibly Grumpy

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

Cooper with dog 1 smaller

Tradition #2: Read The Night Before Christmas

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

Tradition #3: Sleep Christmas Day Away

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

Tradition #4: Have Almost No Presents Under the Tree

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



Tradition #5: Eat Christmas Lunch at Applebee's

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

Tradition #6: Give Lucy a Present

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


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


Tradition #6: Dress Cooper Like Santa

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


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


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

Just reserved a table at IHOP for Christmas 2017, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #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 #28: How to Feed Your Baby Rice Cereal

One of the (many) things I did not know about before becoming a parent is this substance called "rice cereal." First off, I have no idea why the word "cereal" is in any way associated with this stuff. Cereal is one of the greatest foods this planet of ours has to offer and as a hater of virtually every creamy food, I can definitively say that rice cereal should receive no place in this conversation. Disgusting. Anyway, for idiots like me who don't know, rice cereal is the stuff you give your baby to progress him/her toward baby food and ultimately real food that isn't mushed together in a blender. This is probably the main reason for growing up, so you can start eating pizza and stuff. We started feeding Cooper rice cereal a couple of weeks ago so I thought I'd provide a handy-dandy guide to making this step a successful one. Step 1: Put your baby in a seat, strap him down with a lap table, and put a bib on him so that he has something to chew on while you try to feed him.


Step 2: Let him have a taste of this "cereal" that has absolutely no marshmallows, cinnamon, or sugar in it so that he knows it's awful.


Step 3: Let him immediately go back to eating his bib because it probably tastes better anyway.


Step 4: Realize that the bib isn't working and take it off, thereby sacrificing his shirt to ruin.


Step 5: Remove said ruined shirt because really what were you thinking having this kid wear anything in the first place?


Step 6: Take pictures as your child becomes increasingly angry because A.) The rice cereal is not filling his belly nearly as fast as milk does, B.) He keeps slouching over because his head is too heavy to hold up on his own, and C.) Rice cereal probably tastes terrible.


Step 7: Re-position his head so that maybe this won't anger him as much....


Step 8: ....except now his giant head is leaning too far forward and so the rice cereal just dribbles back out onto his chest.


Step 9: Distract him from his anger by letting him play with the wash rag while eating....


Step 10: ....which he then proceeds to attack. Because surely this wet rag will provide some sustenance.


Step 11: Take the rag away from him.


Step 12: Finish up the feeding.


Step 13: Ask him how he feels about rice cereal. He's not so sure.


Step 14: Get one semi-decent photo to make it seem like the entire exercise wasn't a borderline disaster that ruined two shirts, the carpet, and the dog's willingness to be around the family.


Step 15: Do this every single day.

When can this kid start sharing my Whataburger? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #27: Evolution of Sneezing

Recently, Cooper caught himself a little cold. We've been very lucky up to this point as our little King Baby hasn't really been sick whereas I'm told the average infant comes down with 6-12 minor colds/illnesses a year. The onset of this cold, however, couldn't have come at a worse time as he was scheduled to get his four month shots (in his return to Baby Gitmo) the day after he took sick and we were headed out of town for vacation the day after that. Nevertheless, the cold came and like any good parent, I put all of my time and attention into caring for the little guy without a second thought for my own needs. Nah, I'm kidding, I took pictures of him sneezing because I thought it would make for a funny blog! And I was right. So I present to you, without further comment, the evolution of sneezing. IMG_1411b






Happy Cold Season, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #17: Baby Gitmo

Despite the fact that I am a logical, fairly normal human being with a good handle on life, I still maintain four borderline illogical fears that we'll refer to as the Four S's: 1. Shots - Every time I think I have defeated my crippling fear of needles and shots, I have some sort of horrible experience that takes me right back. It's now to the point that if I'm going to be getting a shot, I have to inform the doctor/nurse that I am prone to passing out so that they take the proper precaution to make sure I don't hit the wall and get a concussion. It's sad, I know. 2. Sharks - The ocean is theirs, people. Leave it to them or they will continue to learn new skills like jumping out of the water until they develop the ability to walk on land and attack us in our homes. 3. Spiders - They make my skin crawl and walking through a spiderweb is probably the worst thing in the world, I think we can all agree. 4. Snakes - This one wasn't so much of a "fear" as a "dislike" until recently when I discovered that THEY CAN OPEN DOORS.

Well, if I know anything about parenting given my eleven weeks of experience, it's that it's always a good idea to pass on your illogical fears to your children. So, with that in mind, last week Lindsey and I packed up Cooper and took him to to get his two month shots. It was rough.

Everyone we knew prepared us for this occasion, with more than one person referring to it as, "The worst day of my life." Man, do you guys know how to make a sale! Obviously we prepared for the absolute worst, wherein either Cooper's leg would actually fall off due to all the pain or he'd suddenly stand up, run out of the office, and cut us out of his life for good. Either way, not great. I was actually hoping that I wouldn't be able to get out of work on Friday so that Lindsey would have to do this by herself and therefore Cooper would forever hold it against her and not me, but alas, no such luck.

Here's my son before the action started, completely unaware of what was about to befall him:

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The nurse ushered us back to the waiting room and took the standard measurements that accompany any trip to the doctor. The good news: Cooper is of average weight which was a slight concern given that he's started to look more and more like the Buddha of late. The bad news: His head is in the 99th percentile. He's the Kevin Mench of babies. (I know that reference will reach almost none of you but I'm running with it anyway.) Afterward our doctor (whom we love) came in and went through a few things, then explained how many shots (three!!!!!!!) Cooper would be getting and exactly what each syringe would contain. I nodded in approval, as if I knew what each of these drugs did, all the while trying desperately to keep from getting lightheaded. He then informed us that a nurse would be coming in to administer the drugs and left the room. Smart man.

The waiting was the worst part. In the, say, five minutes between the doctor leaving and the nurse entering, the entire office suddenly turned into a house of horrors. We heard a baby crying louder than Cooper has ever cried. We heard a little girl scream at the top of her lungs until she ran out of breath, again and again. ("SCREAM!" *Breath* "SCREAM!" *Breath* "SCREAM!") Then there was the kid who was CLEARLY realizing that he was about to get a shot who suddenly yelled, "No! NOO! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" in the adjoining room. Suddenly our doctor's office went from a place of healing to Baby Gitmo and our kid was next on the list to be interrogated.

Finally the nurse entered with a tray of syringes and began preparing Cooper for his waterboarding potentially life-saving injections. I backed away from the table so as to brace myself in case I passed out, Lindsey covered her eyes, and Cooper stared up at the nurse with a half smile on his face because HE LOVES PEOPLE AND UP UNTIL THIS POINT NO PERSON HAS EVER HURT HIM. The nurse then proceeded to put an end to his belief that people are inherently good by sticking him once, twice, and thrice with brutal efficiency. I thought about snapping a picture of Cooper's face during this moment but then I remembered that I'm not the world's worst person and also I was still fighting the urge to pass out. Basically, his entire head immediately went tomato red, his entire upper body shook and he made the worst screaming face ever but no sound came out. It literally took his breath away in the most non-Top Gun fashion imaginable. After about three seconds he rallied and let out the worst wail that has ever reached my ears and we scooped him up in order to console an inconsolable toddler. The nurse covered up his wounds with Wolverine band-aids which, shockingly, did nothing to alleviate his pain which goes against everything little kids have taught me over the years, and made a hasty escape and we were finally able to take him home.

The rest of the day was spent like this:

photo (11)

In his effort to forget his pain, Cooper reverted into newborn status and spent the entire day sleeping on my chest or Lindsey's, awaking only long enough to cry forcefully and eat before falling back into his medically induced coma. Since then it's been a bit of a mixed bag, with our normally happy baby trying to be his usual happy self while occasionally suddenly remembering that his legs REALLY hurt and he doesn't know why and, I'm sure, having flashbacks to the traumatic event and making plans to get back at us somehow, some way. Now, if anyone knows where I can find that nurse, I'd like to stab her in the leg and cover it over with a Sesame Street band-aid.

Do babies get post traumatic stress syndrome? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #16: Baby Connect

Last week I wrote about all of the stupid technology that comes into your life when you have a baby. Your newly baby-filled life is incomplete without a sound machine, humidifier, pack ‘n play, microwavable bottle sterilizer, baby monitor, and a million other things that had no place in your home previously. Well, one little bit of technology that I didn’t mention is the Baby Connect app and I didn’t mention it because unlike almost every other confounded technological advance in my new baby-filled life, this little thing is basically the greatest invention of the 21st century. photo (15)

I became aware of Baby Connect thanks to a friend of ours who recommended it while visiting us in the hospital after Cooper’s birth. He and his wife had a baby just a few weeks before us and obviously our sons are destined to be the best of friends. I already caught them smoking together so they have bonded quickly. Anyway, he mentioned this little slice of heaven to us and it stands as one of the best tips we’ve gotten to date. Seriously, 900 million people told me to “get sleep while you can” but only one person mentioned Baby Connect. What’s your deal, world?

Here’s how it works:

1.) You go to the app center on your mobile device. I have an iPhone because I’m either really cool or really uncool, I can’t keep it straight. Once there, you download the app. 2.) Your spouse performs this task as well. 3.) One of you inputs some general information about your kid. 4.) You use it.

That’s it. That’s all it takes. I am not exaggerating when I say Baby Connect is the ONLY piece of new baby technology that has worked EVERY TIME.

The purpose of Baby Connect is to track everything that has anything to do with your new bundle of screaming, grumbling joy. Feedings, diaper changes, naps, medical appointments, weight, number of grumbles in a day (World Record! Score!), etc. Everything you’ve ever needed to know about your baby is right there in one handy little app. And all it takes to input a new entry is, like, three quick clicks and then you can go back to playing Candy Crush. It’s the best.

But why is this so important, you ask? Well person who has clearly never had a baby before, because when you do have a baby, no matter how smart you were or how great your memory used to be, within mere days of welcoming your little grumble into the world YOUR BRAIN TURNS INTO MUSH. You haven’t slept much, you’re suddenly responsible for the well-being of someone who literally cannot do anything for himself, and one of you just put her body through what basically amounts to a car crash on the highway. If you can accomplish all of the things you need to accomplish in order to keep the baby alive in a day you’ve achieved something and remembering how or when you did it is almost completely out of the question. I cannot tell you how many conversations in the last ten weeks have gone like this:

Lindsey: “Did you feed Cooper?” Me: “…yyyyesss?" (Ron Burgandy voice) Lindsey: “Are you sure?” Me: *Long pause* “Yes, I definitely did.” Lindsey: “When?” Me: “Um. Today?”

Thankfully, there’s Baby Connect to save the day. Now all we have to remember besides, you know, actually carrying out the tasks of feeding, changing, and bathing the kid, is to click three little buttons right after the task is done. And the data is there for the rest of eternity. So instead of staring blankly at each other trying to piece together when exactly was the last time your kid dropped a deuce (more on this to come later!), you can just look it up instantly. Even more importantly, without question the best advantage of utilizing Baby Connect is that you don’t have to talk to your spouse at 3 in the morning. (Or ever, I suppose.) Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife. She’s the bee’s knees. But in the middle of the night, when I am awakened by a ghost baby, the absolute last thing I want to do is talk to someone. Anyone. In fact, if I had it my way, no one would be allowed to talk to me before 11 am and I felt that way even before I came to value sleep above even the greatest of earthly treasures. With Baby Connect, one of us can groggily stumble to Cooper’s room and provide him with the proper remedy without ever having to speak to the other. That should be Baby Connect’s slogan: “Baby Connect: Helping Happy Couples Not Talk to Each Other Since 2010.” Or maybe, “Faith, hope, and love. And Baby Connect.”

So there’s my plug for the greatness of Baby Connect. Of all the great inventions of the last couple of years, Baby Connect is, in my book, probably the second greatest, right behind the Genie DVR from DirectTv and right in front of watermelon Oreos (if you haven’t tried them then STEP OFF, bro, they’re delicious). And to those of that had babies before the Baby Connect Age (which is what we’ll call it in the future), you have my unending respect. How did you do it?! Did you write notes to each other? Cave paintings? How?! Surely you are the real heroes of this world, not the firefighters, police officers, and reality TV stars we’ve so foolishly praised for all these years.

I am open to endorsements, Baby Connect, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #12: The Face of Cleanliness

By all accounts, my son is reasonably well-mannered given that he is 6 weeks old and has yet to go through etiquette school. (Note: Is there anything more first world/stupid than etiquette school? I await your arguments.) He sleeps half-way decently for a baby, he doesn't cry much, and he almost never screams/throws baby tantrums. For this, Lindsey and I are eternally grateful. The only time that he gets really upset, and I mean dirty looks, horrifying screams, and fists shaking in anger, is when it's time for a bath. Because, as we all know, being clean is a fate that should be reserved only for Nazis and Justin Bieber fans. Now it should be noted that both Lindsey and I are not fans of water. Well, I think Lindsey would like to swim every now and then if it weren't for the skin cancer she had when she was a kid that has robbed her of her ability to be out in the sun for long. I, however, am adamant in my distrust and disdain for swimming, floating, and generally getting wet in any environment outside of my shower. Ocean, lake/river, pool, doesn't matter, I want nothing to do with it. I can swim if I have to so I'm not exactly sure where my hatred for the water comes from (besides this, this, and for some reason ESPECIALLY this) but it is just a fact of life. I'm like Bruce Willis' character in Unbreakable. Even I, however, recognize the value and wonderment of a hot shower. Cooper, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with this whole bathing thing.

This is a picture of my son during his first sponge bath:


Notice the picture is somewhat out of focus. This was approximately the thirtieth attempt at getting a clear picture but he was squirming so much that it never worked out. The aftermath was this:


Notice the lack of trust in his little eyes. It only took like a week for this kid to start to wonder if his parents are out to do him nothing but harm. But at least we wrapped him up in a cute shark towel, right?

It gets worse, however. This is a picture of the first time we actually stuck him in a tiny pool of water to clean him off:


That initial distrust in our motives turned into a full on nightmare. Not only did we lather his little body in a lukewarm, wet substance known as "tap water", we actually made him sit in the water as well. Two minutes later that distrust turned into...


...complete misery and perhaps a loss of innocence. This, dear friends, is hell on earth. Not only is he wet, not only is he being made to sit in a pool of water (which may or may not have included some pee at this point and by "may or may not" I mean "he totally peed in this water that he's now sitting in") against his will, his tormentors are his parents, the two people in this world who have been charged with his protection. This is indeed a dark day for Cooper and I'm sure he has already begun to plot his revenge for this indignity.

Now, before you run off assuming that things have only gotten better since this first round of torture as he's adjusted to bathing and not smelling like the dog, this is the photo I took of him yesterday during his, say, fifteenth bath:

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Still distrusting, still angry, still hurt and still certain that his parents want him to suffer. This, my friends, is the face of cleanliness.

I await your offer for these photos Johnson & Johnson, Brian

Welcome Aboard

When I was a kid, my dad was an aspiring writer who focused mostly on science fiction but dabbled in lots of subjects. I remember going to his Writer's Club meetings and listening as he and his friends discussed the books/stories/whatever they'd been working on. As such, I came by whatever talent I have as a writer quite naturally. I was a very smart kid (everyone caught up to me by 6th grade but I dominated elementary school academics like a boss) with an active imagination and a love of story telling and as a result I started writing at a very early age. Over the years I have gone through periods during which I did not write anything that wasn't related to school but I always found my way back eventually and this proclivity took on a new life when these things called "blogs" became a major part of our society. Over the last three years, virtually all of my writing has been dedicated toward film criticism. I've written somewhere around 300 reviews in that time at my site (The Soap Box Office) in addition to a number of lists, news pieces, etc. all pertaining to the world of cinema. Recently, though, my desire to write reviews and such has begun to wane and I've found myself contemplating bringing my run to an end. I wouldn't want to quit writing altogether, however, and film criticism is such a convenient field to write about. In fact, that's the real reason (beyond my love for film) I started The Soap Box Office in the first place: it served as a purpose, as inspiration. Before I got into the review business, I wrote when the feeling struck me and while I always enjoyed writing about life or whatever crossed my mind, there were plenty of days and even weeks where nothing sprung up that desperately needed to be written about. With film criticism, there's always something to write about. Five new movies hit theaters every week, big news comes down the pipes every hour, and major trailers drop every couple of days, not to mention the scores of films that have existed for years but have evaded my attention. There's never a lack of content that needs your attention in the film criticism game and that makes for prolific writing if you want to take it on.

(By the way it should be noted that despite my frequent use of the term "film criticism" I hold no grand illusions about my place in the film world. My little site brought in, like, 100 hits a day most of the time and that makes me perhaps the 1 millionth-rated movie blogger in the world. I'm cool with my place in things.)

But now I do, in fact, have something to write about. Later this week, my wife and I will welcome our first child into this world and I can't even begin to fathom how much more interesting my every day life is going to be now that this kid is involved in everything. I now have a built in platform from which to write and this life change has given me an out to set film criticism aside in favor of this new adventure we're about to embark on.


Now, what sets this site apart from the literal millions of other parent-related blogs out there? Probably nothing. Again, I have no pretense concerning my place in the digital space. But, at the risk of sounding brash, I'm a pretty solid writer if I do say so myself and I'm a relatively funny dude (or so people lead me to believe). Also, having spent a bit of time looking around the parenting blogosphere, I feel like there's a decisive lack of male voices in this field and by golly, I'll do my best to fill that gap.

What you can expect from Can Babies Drink Red Bull is a (hopefully) humorous take on parenting from a personal perspective, written in a semi-professional, cohesive manner that will put all other parenting blogs to shame, huzzah! (No, I'm kidding about that last part; this'll probably be fairly mediocre.) The idea here is to tackle the big questions about parenting, such as the site title and "Can my insane beagle babysit this kid so I can go to a movie?", in a sort-of funny way as I attempt to overcome my baby stupidity (this lack of knowledge CANNOT be overstated) and keep from screwing this kid up too badly. I also plan to touch on life events as well as film, sports, and other pop culture-related topics as I see fit, partly because I'm just not ready to set that side of my writing aside entirely and partly because IT'S MY BLOG AND I'LL DO WHATEVER I WANT.

Here's what I need from you: if you're here and you're reading this or any future posts, join in the conversation. I can't stress that enough. Insecure bloggers like myself feed off of your comments and interactions. It's what keeps us going. You get coffee in the morning, Emperor Palpatine draws his energy from Jedis coming over to the Dark Side (this will not the be last Star Wars reference you see on this site), and I feed off of your comments. So join in. Subscribe to the mailing list (sidebar on the right) so that A.) You're always aware of what's happening here and B.) I can stop posting my stuff to Facebook and annoying all of my friends who want nothing to do with this. If you really like something, then share it. Facebook, Twitter, whatever the heck Reddit is, etc. Let people know about this place even if the main reason for doing so is so that you and your friends can make fun of me together. I'm cool with that. Just engage with this site in some way if you enjoy what I'm doing.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope to see you around here in the future!

This kid better like Star Wars, Brian