Adventures in Parenting #24: Pacifying 101

One of the bigger hot button issues in our world today is whether or not you should give your child a pacifier. This is serious stuff. It's right up there with whether or not we should get involved in Syria, the impact of universal healthcare, and just what in the world Bob Benson is up to on Mad Men. At least a half dozen times, I have heard friends say that they weren't going to let their soon-to-be-born babies become reliant on pacifiers. Once the baby comes, however, it takes, like, 27 seconds to realize the issue with this argument: pacifiers WORK. When you're hanging out in the Anti-Pacifier Camp, you're basically saying, "Oh yeah, I totally don't want my child to become dependent on a tiny piece of cheap plastic that instantly makes him fall asleep and leave me in peace for a few blessed minutes." And that's bonkers. Needless to say, we're all about the pacifier. Now, when you are a dumb new parent such as I, you might think all pacifiers are created equal. And you would be wrong. Below are three random pacifiers I found laying within 20 feet of my desk just now:

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Notice how they all look completely different. Cooper can't seem to keep the one on the left in his mouth, really takes to the one on the right, and doesn't seem to think the one in the middle is even a pacifier. He spits it out and then just stares at it in disgust as if I tried to trick him into thinking a thumb tack was actually a pacifier. (Lucy, our beagle, shows no such distinction in her pacifier preference as she has ripped apart and/or eaten at least a dozen different pacifiers in the four months. Brand, shape, whatever, it seems to make no difference to dogs. So there's that.) Our house is now fully stocked with the kind on the right (shout out to Nuk, which is a horrible name for a company but the product is superb) and Cooper has taken to them quite well. It's not like we stick these things in his mouth 24 hours a day but when he's fussing, when he's tired, when I'm trying desperately to get him to go to sleep, I stick the pacifier in his mouth, hold it in there as if I'm trying to smother an old person in a movie, and wait for the magical powers of the pacifier to kick in.

Lately, however, we've run into a problem. Namely, Cooper has discovered what his hands are capable of doing. No longer are they simply worthless chew toys for him to slobber on, instead they can now grip, grab, and hold things. That's a cool advancement to witness as you watch it dawn on your kid what exactly these body parts can do. But it also leads to a fun little game called "Super Frustrating PacifierGammon." Or "PaciGammon" for short. I threw in the "gammon" part to make it sound more like an actual game.

It starts like this:


He's tired so I sat him down next to me and put his pacifier in his mouth. Quickly, however, Cooper realizes that if he continues to allow the pacifier to stay in his mouth, he will fall asleep. He cannot stand for this, so:


Out comes the paci. But now there's another problem: Cooper loves nothing more than putting things in his mouth and now, having forcibly removed the pacifier, there is nothing for him to gnaw on. He surveys the area and spots his prey:


That's right, the pacifier he just took out of his mouth is now sitting on his shoulder, totally not in his mouth in any way, shape, or form, and this must be rectified:


He hasn't yet gained the dexterity it takes to do significant manual labor with only one hand so this job will require both of them. This is actually my favorite part of PaciGamon because it's really funny to watch him try to work out a solution to his problem. Finally, having secured a good grip on the pacifier in both hands, he can maneuver it toward his mouth and bring an end to the madness of having nothing to gnaw on. Except that he hasn't quite mastered the art of finding the rubber part of the pacifier, resulting in this:


He was growling while I took this picture. What he lacks in execution he definitely makes up for in aggression. (Also, let me just note that this kid growls A LOT. Not grunts, not grumbles, full out growls. There's at least a 25% chance that when he gets to kindergarten, his teacher will think he was raised by wolves.) He couldn't quite figure out how to get this thing done which resulted in this:

I'm kidding, I don't have a picture of this part of PaciGammon because this is the part where my beautiful baby boy freaks out and starts crying because obviously I'm a horrible parent for not just putting the pacifier in his mouth in the first place. I've got some nerve. At this point, the rules of PaciGammon dictate that I put the pacifier in his mouth the right way, ending round one of the game and prompting the start of round two, which is exactly the same as round one except with more frustration.

This kid needs to learn some better games, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #23: Four Months

Earlier this week, our little bundle of grumbles crossed another milestone off the list by managing to get himself to the four month mark. Actually, let's be honest, he did almost nothing to get here. Really we should be celebrating the fact that Lindsey and I, two of the most anti-baby people in the world, have kept him alive and well for this long. What were the odds? Since most of you are here only to see pictures of my son, I'll get right down to it, with only a brief aside for an observation. That observation being, I had no idea that this kid was such a beast. I've joked before about his large head (99th percentile, yo!) and the running bit around our house concerns the Buddha Belly he develops after eating. But I didn't realize it went beyond this until the past weekend when, at a party, we were confronted with another four month old baby whom Cooper absolutely dwarfed. I mean, if we were to start a baby fighting ring and matched these two against each other, Vegas wouldn't even give odds on the fight, especially if they discovered Cooper's propensity for cannibalism. I guess I hadn't realized how big he is because A.) I hadn't really paid attention to another baby in, like, 20 years and B.) The other babies that I'm around on a regular basis are two to six months older than Coop and thus set the mark for how big a baby should be. But all it took was about seven seconds in the presence of another four month old to recognize that my kid is a beast and as such, his P90x sessions will begin shortly.

Here's the official four month shot:


And here's another just for good measure. Notice he is NOT sticking his tongue out and smiling at the camera as he was both before and after I snapped this shot and keep in mind, this little game of "look how cute I am...haha, just kidding, now that you're going to take a picture I'm just going to lay here" went on for a solid five minutes. Thanks, pal.


Are there weight divisions in baby fighting circles?


Adventures in Parenting #22: It Takes a Village

When you welcome a new baby into the world, there are two schools of thought when it comes to the handling of said baby. The first school requires that you immediately seal the baby in a bubble, prevent anyone who does not rank amongst your five most trusted friends/family from coming near the bubble, and top it all off by locking yourselves in your house for the better part of a year to make sure that there are no unwanted invaders into the safe space of the bubble. The second school insists that you start handing your baby off almost as soon as he/she exits the womb and worry not about diseases, kidnappings, exposure to bad habits, etc. IMG_1229b

You may have guessed that Lindsey and I are followers of the second school of thought. Almost from the very beginning, we handed Cooper off to just about anyone who didn't have open sores or a creeper mustache and have had absolutely no problem leaving him with family for extended periods of time when the situation calls for it. There are any number of reasons why this line of thinking is our preferred method but two big reasons really stand out. One, having a baby is HARD WORK. One minute life is free and easy and all of your responsibilities concern pretty much only you and the next minute there's this tiny, helpless, possibly vampiric thing in your arms and you've got to take care of him ALL OF THE TIME. If you have opportunities to take a break from that, you should take them. We had been out of the hospital for a week the first time we left Cooper with his grandmother to hit up to a friend's birthday party and I feel absolutely no guilt about that. Two, it is good, nay, IMPORTANT, for kids, even babies, to be comfortable with (responsible, non-Stranger Danger-y) people who aren't their parents. You know that old saying, "It takes a village"? (Somewhere Ron Burgandy is scratching his head in confusion.) Well, that stuff's for real. We want our son to be not only content in the presence of other adults (and kids too for that matter) but to learn how to flourish under the guidance of those around him. And, in my opinion, that should start early.

I'm reminded of this today because this is back to school week for just about everyone. Some started earlier, of course, but basically if you're not in school by the end of this week, you probably need to look into whether or not your school actually exists. Our little family is surrounded by the concept of "school" on almost every level. Many of my closer friends are school teachers, both Lindsey and I work with elementary age kids in our real world jobs, and through our church we have become involved in the lives of a group of high school kids as well.

As such, Back to School Week has an impact on our lives despite the fact that (blessedly) none of us actually have to go back to school. We share in the lamenting of the loss of freedom with our teacher friends, try to get our younger kids pumped up with phony "school is awesome!" excitement, and celebrate the passing of various milestones with the older kids. With school starting today, I have a number of kids who are crossing the threshold into new territory.

There's my buddy Luke, the first kid I met when I started my job here at The Hills , who will be participating in his first padded football practices this week while entering into 7th grade:


There's Dennis, my junior assistant for all things related to my job, who is headed into high school:


And then there's Brittany, whom I have deemed our "Community Child" because A.) her parent's house has become hang out central for approximately 900 people and B.) all of the adults in our group have banded together to try to help turn her into a well-rounded human. (Example: one of our friends taught her to drive after she refused to get her license at a normal age.) Brittany is heading off to college and will be sitting through her first set of college lectures this week:


Of course, there are more examples than just these three. I took my first full-time job working with kids 11 years ago and by my estimation, I have worked or volunteered with approximately 6,000 kids in that time. I've got kids heading to middle school, kids starting kindergarten, kids entering their vaunted senior year, and my first group of kids would have graduated college this spring (kill me). Some I remember well, some I don't, but I had the opportunity with every one of them to impact their lives in some way or another and hopefully more times than not, they took something positive away from our interactions.

And that's what we want for Cooper. In youth/children's ministry, we often think of the kids who come from a rough background or a broken home as the ones who "really need" some positive influences. And that's not wrong, of course, but it misses the point. That being: EVERY kid "really needs" some positive influences. Of those 6,000 kids that have come through my programs at one time or another, I would wager at least 4,500 of them came from stable, two parent households that provided them with a healthy amount of love and encouragement. But that's not enough. They need guidance, attention, and patience from other adults, other influences, and they need to learn how to accept that guidance, attention, and patience from said positive influences at their disposal.

We often act like this need starts when our kids enter high school or maybe middle school but I've long held that it actually needs to start at a much younger age. And now that Cooper is around, I can already see how important it is to his development to not only become comfortable with other kids his age but with their parents, our friends, his extended family, and any other quality, responsible influence that might come into his life. Even at four months old. Because, guess what, it really DOES take a village to keep these kids from becoming cat killers or deviants or layabouts or Aggies and in my book, the earlier they become exposed to these positive influences, the better.

Summer shouldn't end until after Labor Day, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #21: Is My Baby a Cannibal?

In the three plus months of his life, I have already accused my son of being a vampire and a ghost baby. Now, I don't want you to judge me as some horrible person who thinks only the worst of his son, I just call 'em like I see 'em. If you sleep all day, abhor the light, stay up all night, and occasionally try to suck on someone's neck, I'm going to label you a vampire. It's just the way I was raised. In light of recent events, however, I'm afraid I must report that while Cooper has grown out of his vampireness and never was, in fact, a ghost baby, it is very likely that my son is becoming a cannibal. It started out harmlessly enough. From the very beginning, Hannibal Cooper has been fixated on his hands. One of the first photos I ever posted of the little guy displayed him with his hand in his mouth. Lately, however, this fascination with eating his own hands has grown more serious. Here he is a couple of weeks ago:

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No longer content to eat only one of his hands, he has now progressed to chewing on both hands at one time. Mind you, this is not some sort of absentminded gnawing but rather a voracious, businesslike approach to hand eating that is rarely seen in the wild. Terrifying, I know. But it didn't stop there. Recently, Cooper seems to have realized that, should he ever succeed in his plan to bite off his own hands, he would simultaneously become handicapped and lose the ability to practice his second favorite hobby (behind farting, of course). As such, he's moved on to the eating of other people's hands:

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I made the mistake of resting my hand on his little chest while he gnawed on his own hands and within seconds, he grabbed hold of my finger and promptly stuck it in his mouth. He then proceeded to bite while GROWLING at me in a truly horrific and intimidating manner. (I would give just about anything to have gotten footage of this attack but alas my phone was 10 feet away and I'm extremely lazy these days.) The attack was savage and I am certain that the only reason I escaped with my life is because, you know, he doesn't have teeth. Even still, the memory haunts me. (*Sobs quietly*)

Unfortunately, there's more. Just a few days after he did his best to render me hand-less, Cooper took yet another step toward the dark side in his journey to cannibalism. Having cut his teeth (forgive the pun) on his own hands and gotten a taste for human flesh with his assault on me, Cooper became so desinsitized to the violence that he found the very idea of cannibalism in and of itself to be HILARIOUS. If you think your heart can take it, have a gander at the following footage in which an unnamed human (note: it's me) pretends to attack and eat Cooper's face and listen to his disturbing reaction:

So there you have it. It's sad but I believe the evidence speaks for itself. My son, heaven help him, has become a cannibal. I only hope that my story can help other parents prevent their children from meeting a similar fate. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to purchase a baby-sized Hannibal Lecter mask.

Pretty sure CPS will find me if I Google "Baby-Sized Hannibal Lecter Mask", Brian

Adventures in Parenting #20: Just Keep Swimming

Last weekend I packed up the family (minus the increasingly depressed beagle) and we headed out for a weekend away with some friends. First of all, it should be noted that packing when it's just the two of you and packing when you have a baby isn't even the same thing. There should be a different term for packing with a baby in tow or like one of those Spanish accent marks over the top of the word so you know it's THAT kind of packing. (By the way, four years of Spanish and I can't tell you what those little accent marks are called. Thanks, public school.) Next time we do this sort of thing, I'll probably just invest in a long haul tractor trailer, pack up everything that will fit, set the house on fire, and live wherever it was that we were going for the weekend. I'm an incredible packer, a gold medalist in the fictional Packing Olympics, but packing with a baby humbled me. I digress. Once we'd stuffed every single thing we own into Hermione's magical purse from Harry Potter, we headed out to Lake Granbury to stay at our friend's parent's lake house. Now, when I say "lake house", you might be thinking of a dingy cabin in the woods or a trailer of some sort or at most a reasonably normal house that smells like moth balls and old sunscreen positioned somewhere in the general vicinity of a lake. Oh no, my friends. This was a "lake house" in the sense that Michael Jordan is a basketball player. Two stories, four bedrooms, 27 bathrooms, absurd pool table, cable and Internet, a live-in butler, a crazy dock with two boat slips and another for jet skis, and a saltwater pool. (I only made up one and a half of those things.) So basically, a second home that is significantly better than my actual home. It was heaven. When we walked in we all laughed and ran around in slow motion (NERD ALERT!) like when Frodo was greeted by the other Hobbits after destroying the one ring.

It was the perfect destination for a perfect weekend getaway. We fished, watch movies, ate more than humans should ever be allowed to eat in a 48 hour period, talked into the wee hours of the morning, and swam. Er, rather I should say, everyone else swam while I sat on the edge of the pool. I hate swimming. HATE it. Now, I am CAPABLE of swimming if the situation calls for it. I just really, really don't like it. I guess I understand why most people do enjoy it but at the end of the day you're just kind of sitting there, being wet. (Don't even get me started on swimming in lakes where snakes and alligator gars can bite you or in the ocean where man was NEVER intended to go.) That said, I am of course open to the idea of my child swimming, even if someone else will have to take him swimming for the entirety of his childhood.

We took this occasion, in such a ridiculous setting, to introduce Cooper to the water and see what happened. Now, since I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how much this kid hates bath time, he seems to have come around on the idea. Maybe he was embarrassed by the post and realized he was being a big baby about the whole thing but regardless, he's accepted bathing as a part of life now. But I did wonder whether he would inherit the hatred for swimming gene from me.

First off, here's Cooper in his absolutely absurd swimming outfit:


I know what you're thinking and yes, he does look like a fat tourist. He's a fanny pack away from spending the weekend at Great Wolf Lodge with his extended family. I actually like this shot better because Lindsey seems to be going out of her way to highlight his belly:


We finally got our little tourist in the water and at first, he was much too distracted by his own hand to have any sort of reaction. But then it started to dawn on him and his whole body was immersed in water and like most new things, he wasn't sure how to feel about it. He got a look on his face that was right down the middle between "about to smile" and "about to freak the freak out." We put him in a floatie that was significantly more high-tech than any floatie I had as a child and I think his facial expression says, "I don't like this but I'm not exactly sure why I don't like it."


On the whole, the occasion went about as well as we could have expected. Cooper never really seemed to come around on the idea but he puttered around in his Cars floatie for the better part of 30 minutes without having a complete meltdown and afterward he slept like a rock so that was an incredible bonus for Lindsey and me. We can now mark another "first" off the list and hopefully he'll be more swimming pool-inclined than I've ever been so that he can fit in with the chlorinated masses. Just as long as he stays away from the ocean.

Seriously the ocean belongs to the sharks, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #19: Newborn Pictures

Recently I've had more than one person tell me something along the lines of, "Yeah, your writing is great and all but I really just want to see pictures of your baby." Fair enough. If you're one of those people, today is your lucky day. Just remember to spread the word about this place since I've given you everything you've ever wanted. Shortly after Cooper's birth, we had our friend Brooke Ogilvie out to shoot a newborn photo session. Brooke also did our engagement and wedding photos and she is fabulous. You can and should find her work here and you can and should hire her for your next wedding, birth, Bar Mitzvah, regular Tuesday evening, etc. I'm thinking about having her come out to document my fantasy football draft next week. Anyway, Brooke took a ton of great pictures and these are some of them. You're welcome, America.

A look of far off wonderment:


Here's his "What you talkin' about Willis?" face:


Posing with a block containing his vital birth info:


Smiling in his sleep:


Napping in his crib (this hasn't happened since):


Baby and Mom:

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Father and Son:



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Happy little (sleepy) family:


I call this one, "Baby on a blanket in a basket with a beanie on his head":


Posing with his Tim Riggins jersey:


And, of course, a Red Bull:

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Exclusive rights for the tabloids are available, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #18: To the Nursery!

One of the great debates that you are completely unaware of until you or your close friends have kids is about when it is appropriate to leave your child with someone else. A grandparent, a babysitter, the nursery at church, etc., all are viable drop-off options depending on the parents of the child. Some parents are willing to relinquish their child for a few hours almost immediately, some hold on until the child is 2, or 10, or 25. Someday I'll write a big post on this but for now, suffice it to say we are definitely in the former camp rather than the later. We will basically pawn our kid off on anyone up to and including drifters who roll through town looking for work. (For the record, no drifter has ever rolled through our town.) Up to this point, we've always left Cooper with a grandparent but thanks to the set of shots he received at Baby Gitmo last week, our little guy can finally be left at the nursery at church. Score! We arrived at church on Saturday night on time (which is becoming less and less frequent given that it now takes approximately 37 times longer to get out the door than it did in our pre-baby days) and planned to drop him off and head into our assembly for the first time in a while. But before we could get to the nursery, we were waylaid by Patty Weaver, my boss, friend, mentor, and frequent tormentor. As I work in children's ministry, I am often required to do silly things and make a complete fool of myself in order to placate the young masses. Patty enjoys this sort of thing while I will only undergo this treatment under certain conditions and even still with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. No sooner had we set foot in the door than we were ambushed by Patty who immediately threw a captain's hat on Cooper in order to let him aid in the recruitment of new volunteers. (I thought about elaborating on this setup but honestly if you don't know Patty then there's really no way to explain this.) It looked something like this:

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Notice the look of sheer confusion mixed with a bit of humiliation and just a pinch of, "What did I do in a past life to bring this upon myself?" I feel ya, kid.

Finally I pried Cooper away from his post and we headed into the nursery. Everyone around us knew that this was our first nursery drop-off and each looked at us as if we might break down at any moment. Instead, we willingly handed over the King of the Grumbles with great enthusiasm because as much as I love this kid, an hour of being responsible for only my own cries and whimpers is like a gift from the heavens. In exchange for our child, the nice nursery worker gave me a beeper, which I thought was probably an unfair trade but she threw in a future first round pick to top it off so I figured that was as good as it was going to get. (Sports humor!) Plus, I never got to have a beeper when I was a kid so this was like all of my 12 year old dreams coming true.

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Seriously, remember beepers? What were we thinking? I feel like if you transported someone from 1995 to 2013 and showed him even the most rudimentary smart phone, he would laugh hysterically and immediately light the beeper on fire. Such a weird stop-gap in technological history.

I digress. After dropping him off, we (somewhat ashamedly) didn't even go into service because there were people to talk to and not having to shift a helpless little bag of bones around 100 times while conversing with someone makes conversation so much better. We talked, we laughed, no one spit was a gas. As service ended, we headed back to the nursery (literally a 15 foot journey) and this was the only point that brought me any stress. What if he cried the whole time? What if he cried so much that the nursery workers put his picture on the wall under a banner that says "Do not serve?" What if he kickpunched another baby? He has been kicking a lot lately! But no, there was no reason to fear because, of course, he slept the entire time. Never even stirred. We picked him up and he could not care less that we'd been gone for an hour. In the end, it was probably the most anti-climactic "first" that we've experienced to date and as you can tell, he didn't even care to pose for the picture:

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Are beepers still a thing? 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:

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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 #15: Ghost Baby

One of the things that comes along with new parenthood is a collection of new technologies that you didn't previously possess. Now, I'm a huge fan of technology, especially as it pertains to my consumption of television, movies, and sports programming, but Baby Technology seems like its main goal is to confuse and confound parents, usually when they are at their highest level of sleep deprivation. There's the vibrating bassinet with the batteries that die every two days. There's the sound machine that sometimes switches from "White Noise" to some setting that sounds similar to "Traffic Stop in a Bad Neighborhood" all by itself. And of course there's the Pack 'N Play, a piece of equipment that is, by it's very name, designed to be easily packed and played with but in reality can only be easily packed by a team of Army engineers. (When we are definitely done having kids, I will take this piece of equipment out into a field and beat it to death like the crappy printer in Office Space.) DSCN0504

But by far, my "favorite" (read: "least favorite thing in the entire world that does not involve Dallas-Fort Worth traffic") piece of Baby Technology is the accursed baby monitor. Like the aforementioned Pack 'N Play, the baby monitor sounds like a great idea on the surface. You set up a camera in the baby's room and you are free to walk away from the baby holding a small receiver with a tiny TV screen and a speaker on it, enabling you to....well, to monitor the baby. Huzzah! Now you can finally sleep, right? Not so much.

For one thing, it's nigh impossible for new parents (read: "suckers") to close their eyes and actually drift off to sleep without worrying that every tiny grunt or grumble is actually a sign that their baby is being abducted and/or eaten by the beagle who is finally exacting her revenge. Whoever came up with the term "sleeping with one eye open" was either a complete moron or a new parent whose brain had been eaten away by a lack of REM sleep, resulting in total insanity. (I saw this in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation recently because, yeah, I've been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation at 3 in the morning when I used to sleep. Like a boss.) Even if you turn the viewing screen off (which I do) and turn the volume all the way down (which I do), there's still this bar that lights up at the top of the screen, going from green to red, indicating your baby's extreme cries. That's all well and good but when your baby is the self-proclaimed King of the Grumbles as Cooper is, that little bar might light up 30, 40 times a night, not because he's screaming his lungs out or being eaten by the beagle but because it's tough work being a baby and doing all that sleeping and sometimes you just have to grumble. You would think that by 2013 someone would have invented a baby monitor that only lights up when the baby is ACTUALLY crying and/or experiencing an alien abduction. This frustration grows even larger when, for no apparent reason, the receiver randomly starts picking up some serious feedback and makes a noise akin to an AM radio station that only plays the sounds of someone ripping a needle across a record. It's just the best.

But if all of that weren't enough, I have one more little issue with the baby monitor, though I'll admit this one is at least half the fault of my own son. Sometimes, you DO manage to fall asleep. Sometimes you are able to sleep right through the grumbles and the grunts and the farts (AUDIBLE FARTS through what basically amounts to an intercom system) and sink back into that sort of blessed sleep that was so common pre-baby. And then at 3, 4 in the morning, you are awakened out of the blue by an unknown force. It was probably just a little grumble, you think hazily, and so you click the "Video On" button on the receiver and for a second you forget that the receiver's screen is black and white and that the camera is set, like, 6 inches away from your kid's face. And in that moment of hazy, sleepy, foolishness, you click the monitor on to find:

photo (11)

A GHOST BABY STARING DIRECTLY BACK AT YOU THROUGH THE SCREEN IN SUCH A MANNER THAT SUGGESTS HE KNEW YOU WOULD BE LOOKING AT HIM! And then you yell (scaring the other person in the house who is on the verge of homicide due to the aforementioned lack of sleep) and have a heart attack and almost die, assuming that the ghost baby will be the one that escorts you to the afterlife, before the smoke in your brain clears and you come back to the harsh reality of having to care for a helpless little being who may or may not be a ghost baby. So thanks for the panic attack, inventor of the baby monitor. When I die, I promise to come back as a ghost and haunt any of your remaining family members until I have satisfied the debt I now feel you owe me.

What sort of tribute is the King of the Grumbles due from his subjects? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #14: Two Months

Haven't had as much time to write about Cooper's shenanigans the last few days but I'll be back strong soon. Rest assured he is still both alive and at least relatively well so I consider this a success. Today we celebrated his two month birthday. And by "celebrated", I mean we made him take a bath cleaned his face to make him look like he's clean even if he isn't and forced him to sit for three dozen pictures. Here's one of the better shots:


Note: He farted at least five times during the production of this photo.

With two months under his belt, this little guy is changing every day. While he's still so tiny in comparison to other babies, he's basically out of the newborn stage now and the differences between him now and even a week or two ago are staggering. Among the many changes and new skills that Cooper has been exhibiting lately, by far my favorite is his propensity for giggling. I'm still not sure that he's laughing at my jokes or just making a noise but we'll find out soon enough. I've got a killer joke about Twilight that I know he's going to love. Also, this giggle sounds an awful lot like a tiny machine gun so I've been calling him Machine Gun Kelly. That seems appropriate.

I'd also like to note that all of you are jerks for not telling me how quickly these things grow up! I'm kidding. All of you told me that. Strangers in Target told me that. A homeless guy told me that. But for reals, yo, the fact that this little guy has already been around for two months and has already grown up SO MUCH is kind of ridiculous. Next thing I know he'll be talking and walking and smoking running amok through the house.

I already feel old, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #13: First Father's Day

Growing up, my family was never the biggest on holidays. Check that, we were never that big on the ancillary holidays. Christmas was a big shebang, kid birthdays were played up quite a bit (not so much for the adults, as it should be), and Thanksgiving was given its due. But that's generally where the celebration ended. When I was younger Independence Day meant fireworks at the lake but that tradition dissipated at some point, Mother's and Father's Days respectively usually meant a card and possibly a restaurant, and the rest fell by the wayside. I'm not bitter about this by any means as I've been around families who treat St. Patrick's Day, President's Day, and National Pancake Day as if Saint Paul himself was coming to dinner and I think it's kind of weird. If I don't get the day off of work then what's the point? But, as you might expect, this year's swim through the Mother's and Father's Day shenanigans brought some added importance because, you know, the kid. Lindsey is one of the world leaders in coming up with parties and celebrations which is totally great except that means I have to try to match that somehow when it's her turn to be celebrated. For Mother's Day, I think I knocked it out of the park: I stayed up all night with Cooper, allowing Lindsey a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep (which was worth about $3.2 million at that point). In the morning, I presented her with flowers, an ink footprint (Cooper's, not mine), and donuts. (It's possible that I left our three week old baby in the car while I ran into the donut store at 5 in the morning but that's neither here nor there.) Boom, roasted. Perfect first Mother's Day.

But of course Lindsey topped that when Father's Day rolled around this weekend. I went to bed without the baby monitor and without setting my alarm (if you don't understand the utter joy that one can draw out of not setting the alarm, then I don't think we can be friends) and didn't wake until after 10:30. Glorious. When I did arise from my hibernation, I found this bounty of gifts awaiting me in the hallway:


With baby in tow, Lindsey trucked all the way out to Central Market to assemble a collection of fine foods I happen to love. Whataburger's Spicy Ketchup (FINALLY IN A BOTTLE AND AVAILABLE FOR MY CONSUMPTION AT ANY TIME), caramels with sea salt (life changing), and an assortment of green olives. What can I say, the road to my heart is paved in green olives. And sodium. And artery blockage, probably.

After pouring Whataburger Spicy Ketchup down my throat like a fat kid with cheese whiz, we headed out to Ol' South Pancake House for brunch, which is kind of like skipping school and then getting rewarded for it. "Breakfast at noon?! Where do I sign?!" Cooper wore his Bill Murray onesie to celebrate the occasion:


(Note: The kid slept through the entire thing. Ol' South is one of the loudest places on earth, akin to standing at the foot of Niagara Falls, and it is filled to the brim with the smell of bacon. He never stirred, even when the waitress kind-of-sort-of dripped water on him. Nothing. And yet at 3 o'clock in the morning he's disturbed by the sound the TV makes when I turn it off. I'm onto your game, kid.)

From there, we headed out to one of my favorite places, the Fort Worth Zoo. It may be childish but I love zoos. Always have, always will. And unbeknownst to many in the area, the Fort Worth Zoo is actually one of the best zoos in the country. I know because I have been to a thousand. (Or maybe a dozen but either way.) In order to cement my zoo nerdery and pass on said nerdery to the next generation, Lindsey purchased our family a zoo membership so now we can go whenever we want.


Again, however, notice the sleeping baby. The sun is shining directly on his little face, there are a thousand people milling about, and there is a live ALLIGATOR roughly 10 feet away from us but not a peep. Fine, whatever. We left shortly thereafter because of the aforementioned sleeping baby and because HOT but not before adding to our ever-increasing file of memories and possibly creating some new traditions in the process.

You win again Lindsey, 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

Adventures in Parenting #11: First Movie

As you can probably determine based on the number of reviews I post that none of you read, I'm a big fan of the cinema. For as long as I can remember I have found great joy and satisfaction from the world of film. It started with Star Wars, matured with The Shawshank Redemption, and developed into borderline obsession with the turn of the century and The Lord of the Rings series. Over the first 30 years of my life, there are a number of landmark memories that jump out because of a particular theater experience. Some of these include: 1989 - The first new movie I remember seeing in a theater. My dad took me to see Batman with Michael Keaton in the lead; 1990 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came to theaters and my brother I were REALLY stoked about this; 1993 - My parents took me to see Jurassic Park which remains, to this day, the greatest theater experience I have ever had and likely will ever have; 1996 - In the midst of a family reunion, all of the cousins piled into the front row of a dinky theater to watch Independence Day on Independence Day. During the surgery scene when the alien's chest cavity snapped open, my brother freaked out and ran out of the room; 1999 - The most anticipated movie of my entire life, The Phantom Menace, came to theaters and I'm pretty sure I skipped school to see it. This is also the most disappointing movie going experience of my life.


I could list many more but you get the picture. I have a freakish memory for names, places, and dates and more often than I'd like to admit these memories are hallmarked by what was happening in the worlds of film or sport at the time. I cherish these memories and I find that there is great value in the cinema if you are willing to look for it. As such, among the many things I look forward to sharing with my son, my love for film takes a prominent place. When the news that Disney had acquired the rights to the Star Wars universe was announced and a new set of films became a reality, one of the first thoughts I had was that Episode VII (expected to drop in summer 2015) could very well become Cooper's first real theater experience. Because obviously he needs to be raised in the ways of the Force.

We'll see if that ends up playing out accordingly, but in the meantime, Cooper's exposure to film has already begun. Having bristled through numerous annoying experiences involving children in a standard theater setting, I am hyper sensitive about making sure he doesn't find his way into a theater until he's capable (or mostly capable) of sitting through the movie. But thankfully, there is a loophole: the drive-in theater. The Coyote Drive-In opened just a few weeks ago on the outskirts of downtown Fort Worth and last week, on a strangely non-busy weekday, we decided to venture out and take Cooper to his first movie.


I folded down the back two rows of seats in our Honda Pilot, we laid out a heap of blankets and pillows, and all three of us stretched out in semi-comfort. Like most drive-in setups, Coyote shows double features on all of their screens and the movies for the day were Epic followed by Iron Man 3. In hindsight, it bothers me a little that Cooper's first "big screen movie" experience will include a throw-away animated film that absolutely no one will remember in a year but he isn't quite ready for the subtle nuances of Fast and Furious 6 so I didn't want to waste that on him. We bailed out in the intermission between Epic and IM3 though not because Cooper was fussing but because Lindsey was. (Something about having a baby has made her really lazy lately.) But really, the film didn't matter so much as the experience did. This is yet another in a long line of landmark memories that are attached to film and it stands as the beginning of teaching this little guy about the things that I love and hoping he'll share in some of those passions. Now if I could only figure out how to warn him about Jar Jar Binks...

Han shot first, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #10: Can Babies Eat Muchacos?

A while back, Lindsey entered herself in a contest thrown by Taco Bueno that awarded the winner with a year's supply of Taco Bueno and the title of Bueno Head of the Year. I refused to participate in these shenanigans for the following two reasons: 1.) I think Taco Bueno is at best "adequate" and at worst "vomit-inducing"; and 2.) I hold a strong dislike for performing in any manner that draws a spotlight. Public speaking, singing, dancing, dressing up for theme parties, etc. are all things I do not like, preferring instead to sit in the back and make inappropriate jokes.

With virtually no prep time, Lindsey came up with a plan, executed it, and inevitably won the crown. She received a ridiculous amount of adequate/vomit-inducing food, the vaunted title, and a trip to New Orleans for the company's management conference. I was proud of her and also incredibly happy that I didn't have to participate in any of the shenanigans. It was a win-win.


This difference in personality between Lindsey and I is well-known within our circle of friends and family. Lindsey choreographs and performs in Summer Spectacular, our church's VBS on steroids, every year while I will not get within 100 feet of the stage. When we got married and moved into our first home, Lindsey brought with her many boxes filled with dozens of costumes; I have a Marty McFly shirt-jacket-vest that I once wore to an 80s party that I probably wouldn't wear again even if the party theme was actually Back to the Future (let's be honest, I probably wouldn't go to the party, anyway). Lindsey will gladly be the first one on the dance floor at a wedding while I sit in the back and make fun of how white all of our friends are, knowing full well that I would look even worse if I mistakenly found my way onto the floor. We have struck an accord on this in that I support her performance gene in whatever form it manifests itself as long as I do not have to participate against my will. This works well for us.

I do wonder, however, what side of this equation Cooper will come out on. Will he be a performer like Lindsey or shy away from the spotlight like me? We got our first taste of this confluence of personality over the weekend with Taco Bueno once again serving as the catalyst. Having been inspired by the rousing success of their previous contest, Bueno yet again afforded their fans the opportunity to win a year's worth of their adequate to vomit-inducing product, this time calling for a dance video centered around the performer's love for the company. A dance contest involving Taco Bueno sounds like the perfect opportunity for Lindsey. Dancing, probably bad music, and Mexican food?! It's like this contest was designed specifically for her. Unfortunately, however, she is still out of commission following the delivery and hasn't been approved for exercise yet. Sometimes you just can't catch a break, you know?

Fortunately for Lindsey and possibly unfortunately for Cooper, we have the most adorable baby in the world. Lindsey set about a plan that involved re-writing the lyrics to a horrendous pop song from the late 90s, enlisting the help of her brother-in-law John to sing the newly re-worked horrendous pop song, purchase a bag full of adequate to vomit-inducing food as well as a collection of possibly racist props, and forcing our young child to "dance" along with the music. The result is as follows:

If your first reaction to this video is, "I'm going to call CPS", don't bother. I already called it in myself and they have informed me that unless we actually made the baby eat Taco Bueno, there's nothing they can do. Their hands are tied. That's the government for you. The video is, however, unquestionably cute. I'm still not sure whether this is the best thing to happen to Cooper in his short 5 weeks on the planet or the worst but I guess we will have to wait and see how he comes out on this whole performing thing. Who knows, maybe he'll end up being Taco Bueno's version of the Gerber Baby and this foolishness will pay for college. Either way, it will make for excellent blackmail material in the future and will serve as payback for the lack of sleep he has subjected us to over the last few days.

Rosa's > Taco Cabana > Taco Bueno > Taco Bell = Slow Death, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #9: One Month Review

Dear Cooper, Over the weekend you had your one month anniversary with this family and your celebration got a little wild. You stayed up late, drank too much (milk), threw up all over yourself, and woke up in different clothes with an apparent lack of recollection as to the previous night’s events. You’re a wild and crazy kid.


As the cliché states, children do indeed grow up rather quickly and it is almost impossible to believe that you have been a part of this family for a full month now. It is also quite remarkable that you have survived given your frailty and our complete lack of experience with babies. I mean, I’ve done my part. I have dropped you less than five times and I only shake you when you’re REALLY crying. Still, you deserve credit for fighting through this month with parents who know next to nothing. Kudos to you, sir.

Now, with your one month anniversary upon us, it seems only fitting to review the events of that period and discuss what you have done well and what you can improve on in order to make this arrangement work out long term:


  1. It goes almost without saying that you have staked your claim to the title of “Cutest Baby in the World” and you’ve held on to it quite tightly. We’ve all seen our fair share of ugly babies and you, my friend, are not one of them.
  2. As far as babies go, you have shown an above average ability to sleep, albeit on an irregular schedule.
  3. You work well with other babies, an attribute we can only hope will carry over into your school years.
  4. You seem completely unfazed by the incessant barking of the dog nor are you bothered by her need to lick your hands and feet. This bodes well for you in this household.
  5. When we watch TV together, you show an equal interest in baseball games and Star Trek. Hopefully this means you’ll be this kind of nerd and not this kind.
  6. Numerous people have remarked about the length of your arms and legs which obviously means you’ll be able to play passing lanes quite well once you become a basketball prodigy.
  7. You have great social skills for a baby even if you’re not the best with the words.



  1. While your coos, grunts, and whimpers are cute, the infrequency at which they occur in the middle of the night makes it difficult to sleep. Sometimes you sound like a gremlin and I don’t mean Gizmo.
  2. Your demands for food at entirely inconvenient times have become tiresome.
  3. Your favorite hobby appears to be finding a way to get your pee to leak out of your diaper.
  4. Though I find it funny now, your mastery of repetitive farts will put a damper on your social life at some point.
  5. You seem to have a deep-seated hatred for bathing which could lead to some hygiene issues down the road.
  6. This thing where you don’t poop for two days and then wreck shop for 12 hours is obnoxious to say the least.
  7. You might be a vampire.

All in all, I’d say it’s been a successful first month on earth. By way of a 2-1 vote with the dog being the only dissenter (albeit a very vocal dissenter) we have decided to extend your stay with the family for the foreseeable future. Keep working on the aforementioned areas in need of improvement and I’m sure we can make this work for a very long time.

Regards, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #8: Can't Hold Us

So it may come as a surprise to most of you that, on occasion, I have been known to enjoy a little bit of hip hop. Not much, mind you; of the 10,510 songs on my iPod, I imagine hip hop/rap is responsible for maybe 150 entries and some of that is made up of Will Smith hits that can hardly be considered hip hop. I listen to a wide range of music, though, and occasionally a hip hop song catches my ear. And so it is with Macklemore. Now, I had heard Macklemore's last song, "Thrift Shop", a few times while flipping channels in my car on those days when I left my iPod at home and I HATED it. In fact, it cannot be overstated how much I hate that song. If given the option to listen to "Thrift Shop" five times or stab myself in the hand, I guess I'd probably choose to listen to the bloody song but I would really have to think about it. Awful. So I had written Macklemore off entirely. By chance, however, I happened to catch him on Conan singing "Can't Hold Us" a few weeks ago with Ryan Lewis rockin' the turntable and Ray Dalton dropping the chorus. And I kind of dug it. Then I heard it again and I really dug it. Then I grabbed it off of iTunes and listened to it a dozen times and it's been stuck in my head ever since. And I'm still not tired of it. The song has an infectious energy to it, a major prerequisite in good hip hop for me, and...well, what can I say, the performance was oddly enjoyable. See for yourself and pay particular attention to Mr. Dalton, the brother dressed as a milk man with a gold bowtie:

Lindsey is a bigger fan of the hip hop than I am and was pretty keen on "Can't Hold Us" from the get go. We talked about the performance on Conan several times before Cooper was born and decided that, in our family band version of "Can't Hold Us" (which is OBVIOUSLY a thing that is going to happen since both of us are incredibly musical, right?), Cooper would be responsible for the chorus which calls for everyone to "Throw our hands up/Like the ceiling can't hold us." Since his arrival, we haven't been driving much and as such, my iPod has remained on pretty much the same playlist, meaning "Can't Hold Us" has been playing nonstop for the last four weeks every time we're in the car. Each time it gets started, one of us will usually turn to Cooper, asleep in the backseat, and demand that he sing his part. I don't know why, we just do it.

Well, yesterday I came into the room to find Cooper in this state: DSCN0459

I am left with only one conclusion: Cooper was so concerned with fulfilling the expectations that we so unfairly placed on him that he fell asleep working on his part of the song. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is dedication. At this point I feel pretty good about him nailing his part but unfortunately that means Lindsey and I have some serious work to do.

Dibs on the turntable, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #7: Staycation

I’m not sure where exactly the term “staycation” originated from or when it came into the popular vernacular but I tip my cap to whoever created it. For the first 25 or so years of my life I, like many others, was devoted to the idea of vacation meaning a trip somewhere, either foreign and domestic, packed with organizing, traveling, being molested by a TSA agent, scheduling activities of varying degrees of strenuousness, and then returning home much more tired than I began. This led to my coining of the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” HAHAHAHA! (Of course, I did NOT coin that phrase and in fact, the person who DID coin that phrase should probably keep it to him or herself in order to avoid a beating. Worst phrase ever.) But somewhere in my post-college years I discovered the bliss that is the staycation and have made great strides in becoming one of the leaders in the field of staycationing. Here’s how it works: I take off work, I usually don’t set my alarm, I watch movies, I eat poorly, and I generally stay away from anything resembling responsibility. I’m quite good at it actually; one might even call it a natural talent. It’s as is if I was made to do nothing and enjoy it. Sometimes I staycation by myself, usually around Christmas when I have to use my two weeks of vacation or lose them, but sometimes Lindsey joins me in a staycation and it is glorious. More television programming is consumed in these staycations than most people watch in a year and a new standard for laziness is usually set, only to be broken the next time one of these staycations rolls around. It’s a family tradition.


I’m not sure maternity/paternity leave actually qualifies as a staycation but, quite unexpectedly, it hasn’t felt far off. As I’ve mentioned before in this space, as the delivery of your first child approaches, all anyone will tell you is that your life is about to change dramatically. Almost everyone then makes it clear that being a parent is great and the child is (usually) worth all the trouble and you probably won’t want to kill yourself and blah blah blah but the implication is pretty serious: this is going to be rough. When every human is essentially telling you that your life is about to suck miserably for the next couple of months, it’s only natural to let that get into your head and freak you out a little bit. “What if this kid never sleeps?” “What if he has an embarrassing skin rash that makes him unpleasant to look at?” “What if the beagle tries to eat his bones like a KFC commercial?” “What if he throws up in my mouth and then I throw up on him and then I’m the dad who threw up on his newborn baby?” These and a hundred other horrifying thoughts begin to fly through your mind and eventually you become convinced that the first six to eight weeks of your child’s life will be a bloody nightmare.

Well…the first three weeks weren’t. In fact, they were kind of awesome. Lindsey and I have both been (mostly) off work, people have been bringing us free food pretty consistently, and while I haven’t been getting the amount of sleep I would normally expect to get on a staycation, most days haven’t been so bad that I couldn’t function. We’ve caught up on all of our TV shows, spent time hanging out with friends and family, and sometimes we’ve even showered. Basically it’s been just like an extended staycation except that every two hours or so someone poops. So that’s not so shabby. It certainly helps that Cooper is probably the most adorable kid in the known universe and that he sleeps like a champ but regardless, it’s been three weeks of chilling together as a family and what a blessing that’s been to all of us (except the dog, who may never recover from this intrusion into her life).


Alas, this staycation is coming to an end and my continued shouts of, “We want more! We want more!” in the direction of the heavens have gone unheeded. I started working from home last week and had to do serious, real office work over the weekend and Lindsey will be seeing patients for the first time today. (Note to future potential parents: get your short term disability lined up way in advance so you can stay home for longer than three weeks. Lesson learned the hard way.) Neither of us will be putting in the full number of hours that we will in a normal week for a little while longer but still, the staycation has effectively ended. And that’s a bummer as no matter how much I love my job (and I do), it’s not nearly as enjoyable as watching Arrested Development with my son. So if any of you would like to volunteer to continue bringing us meals and occasionally paying our mortgage, I’ll be happy to bribe you with more photos of our crazy-cute kid eating his own hand or snuggling with the dog. Think it over.

The KFC commercials make me laugh more than they should, Brian

Adventures in Parenting #6: Is My Son a Vampire?

Last week I wrote about the origins of my son's middle name and mentioned that we almost named him after Jack White. In certain circles, Jack White is known as the Nashville Vampire because he looks like this: jackwhite2He also happens to be the most singularly gifted musician I've ever seen and that's why we almost named Cooper after him. But that's beside the point. The point is the nickname because given this kid's sleeping habits, maybe we should have gone ahead and named him after the Nashville Vampire.

I was, of course, warned about the manner in which newborn infants choose to sleep. "Get sleep while you can" is one of the three major tenets of the Church of Random Strangers Who Give You Unsolicited Parenting Advice. But other than preemptively throwing yourself into a miserable schedule wherein you rarely sleep and force yourself to wake up in a haze every 30 minutes or so, there's no way to TRULY prepare for this phenomenon until it's actually thrust upon you.

My son is formula fed which means Lindsey and I are essentially taking shifts with him. Since I'm a late night person, I stay up with him and/or sleep on the couch until I can't handle it anymore while Lindsey sleeps and then we switch. This is fine until about 2 am as this is usually my breaking point but it's not really late enough to switch and have an even split so I have to fight through to at least 3 and sometimes 4 in the morning before throwing in the towel. This wouldn't be so bad except that the 2-6 am range is apparently prime time for Cooper.

This is a photo of my son at 10 pm:


Notice he is completely gone, sprawled out like he couldn't care less about the uncomfortable position he's laying in or the flash on my phone splashing over his little face. (Also note that his face really isn't that fat and he does, in fact, have a neck.) Lindsey went to bed shortly after this picture and my shift began.

This is a photo of my son at 12:30 am:


Now, if that looks like a peaceful, sleeping baby, let me tell you that this is a lie. He's been "stirring" for about an hour now, flailing about and making his little grunting noises that are just loud and infrequent enough that you can't sleep through it. Just moments after this photo he exploded in a fit of rage because someone (note: it was him, he did it to himself) pinned his arms down at his side and he hates not having his arms up above his head. This will be the source of his rage for the rest of the night I'm sure.

This is a photo of my son at 3:30 am:

photo (12)

Note that he has had plenty of food (though if I had to eat formula eight times a day I'd probably kill a man), his diaper has been changed (repeatedly) and I have acquiesced to his demands by swaddling up his legs and allowing his arms the freedom they so obviously deserve. And yet...he remains awake. Wide awake, in fact, and unwilling to allow anyone in the room (including the dog) to sleep. We have been sitting and watching old episodes of The Office for hours and each attempt to lay him down and get some rest has been unsuccessful.

Note that this kid sleeps throughout the entire day. We often have to wake him up to feed him and if you happen to wander into a room with a particularly bright light while holding him he shrieks and covers his eyes. I can draw only one logical conclusion, of course: my son is a vampire. He is most active during the prime vampiring hours and despises the daylight as if the sun stole his girlfriend. I can only hope now that he will become the Jack White/awesome sort of vampire rather than the Edward Cullen/sparkly sort. Apologies in advance to any friend or family member whose neck is attacked by my baby in the future.

Does anyone know where I can find a drifter? Brian

Adventures in Parenting #5: What's in a Name?

As a kid, I was never entirely fond of my own name for two reasons: 1.) Everyone had it. I don’t think I was ever in a public school classroom that did not also feature at least one other Brian or Ryan and at one point I was on a soccer team with four other kids of the same name. 2.) There was no real meaning behind my name. I had friends whose names were bestowed upon them because it was a family name or because their parents had a best friend who helped them through hard times or because why wouldn’t you name your child after Ronnie Van Zandt? (Not joking about that last one, by the way.) (Side note: It also had something to do with the fact that about half the time, to this day, people still spell my name as “Brain” and that drove me bananas as a kid. Now it only slightly makes me want to punch a puppy instead of full on murder someone.)

I required no therapy to get over the curse of such a common name and it’s not like I hated my name or anything. Likewise, I hold no ill will towards my parents for bestowing it upon me. They almost named me Patrick and what an awful fate that would have been. (My apologies to any Patricks I may have just offended. Please don’t leave!) But still, it’s not the name I would have chosen for myself because obviously that would have been Dwayne The Rock Johnson.

As such, when Lindsey and I found out we were going to have a kid, one of the first thingsCoop3 my mind went to was what to name him. For months I “jokingly” referred to him/her (before we knew the gender) as “Baby Dirk” or “Baby Dirkina” hoping that it would stick but alas Lindsey saw right through my plan and rejected it immediately. (Despite my unhealthy love for Dirk Nowitzki, I would have never really named my son after him. But the middle name…maybe.) We didn’t really discuss the name thing until after we found out we were having a boy and that’s when things got pretty interesting.

We agreed on three criteria for this child’s name:

1.) We wanted a last name (traditionally) for his first name, a phenomenon both of us have become big fans of; 2.) We wanted it to be relatively unique so that he wouldn’t be the ninth Brian in every elementary school classroom; 3.) We wanted the name to have some sort of meaning but we also did not want to open up the can of worms that is a family name.

This is where our agreement ended, however. In the history of our relationship, Lindsey and I have very, VERY rarely fought or had a longstanding disagreement. We think similarly on most things and what we don’t is usually worked around pretty easily. This is one of the few occasions when we locked horns. Lindsey bought a book called “100,001+ Best Baby Names” which I highly suggest expecting parents get their hands on because you’ll never have any idea how many names you DON’T agree on until you’re presented with 100,001+ different options. Also some of the names are hilarious and they’re broken up into lists like “Names That Were Invented” (by the way, ALL NAMES WERE INVENTED), “Skydiver Names”, and “Wine Names.” (Note: If any of my friends were named after a particular wine, you better keep that to yourself because if I find out I will NEVER let you hear the end of it.) We went through the whole book as well as the names we thought up from other sources and made our individual lists before getting down to brass tacks of actually settling on one.

My top choice was Griffey. It’s a last name, it’s unique, and Ken Griffey Jr. is the greatest baseball player I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and since this kid is OBVIOUSLY destined for fame and glory in the athletic arena, that namesake would come in handy. Lindsey was having none of this, however, and I blame all of our friends and family who are women. Literally every guy I spoke to about this possibility was on board but every girl rejected it posthaste. I will never forgive any of you for this. My second choice was Jackson White Gill. That one had a double meaning as my favorite character from any movie ever who is not Chewbacca (nerd alert!) is Private Jackson in Saving Private Ryan and the greatest musician of his generation is unquestionably Jack White of The White Stripes. I think Lindsey liked this one but the problem was twofold: Jackson is a very popular name, perhaps even to the level that Brian was back in 1983, and also Jack is Lindsey’s dad name which opens up the whole family name can of worms I mentioned earlier. So that was nixed as well. My third choice was nothing. I had no third choice and I didn’t really want one. I was so sold on the top two that any other option felt like a major concession.

Instead, I struck a deal with Lindsey. She could name this child but in exchange I got the middle name AND the first name of our hypothetical second child that may never come into this world given how excruciatingly awful our hospital experience was. I admit that, on the surface, this is a hard bargain but the thing is we already have a name picked out for a girl so there’s only a 50/50 shot that I’ll have free reign over the name choosing next time around anyway. Eventually Lindsey gave into this compromise and she settled upon Cooper, which I like just fine and have grown even fonder of since this kid actually came into the world and became immediately awesome. But, Cooper has no real importance; it is essentially a name drawn out of a hat. I considered telling people he was named after DB Cooper (whose legend I am fascinated by to the point that sometimes I stay up at night thinking about it) but I figured naming your child after a legendary criminal is probably cause for a CPS investigation. So the need to bring some significance to this kid’s name fell to me and the middle name.

I considered a number of options. I thought about athletes who have amazed me, musicians who have entertained me, Biblical heroes that have inspired me, and even historical figures that have drawn my interest over the years. (Crockett was a major consideration because Davy Crockett was a BOSS of the highest order.) Eventually, though, I settled in on Riggins. Now, if you’ve never watched the show Friday Night Lights (which I wrote about at length about here) then when I tell you my son’s middle name comes directly from a TV show you think it’s ridiculous and that we are probably bad parents. I understand this and accept your judgment. But if you had seen the show, you’d understand. Literally every person who has seen Friday Night Lights and hears his name immediately gives the seal of approval. Few characters ever in the history of TV have inspired such outspoken adulation as Tim Riggins and I think it’s because we see ourselves in him. He’s a good-hearted kid who can’t quite put it all together but who struggles with his humanity, with his morality, with his place in the universe.


In a weird way, that’s what I want for my son. I don’t want him to be perfect and I don’t want him to go through life on the straightest path possible because I don’t think you can truly figure out who you are if you never have the occasion to look back and learn from your tangential wanderings off the beaten path. (I’m sure I’ll regret saying this when Cooper throws a sitcom-inspired kegger party at our house when Lindsey and I go out of town for the weekend but I like the sentiment right now.) So yeah, I named my kid after a TV show character and yes, I’m totally content with this choice even if it seems like complete idiocy to the outside viewer. Just be glad I didn’t name him Tyus, which was a one of the names I assigned to a puppy in the 7th grade. We all make mistakes.

Texas Forever, Brian