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I'm 30 Today

Tonight, at 7:20 p.m., I will have spent 30 years on this earth, outside of my mother's womb.

It occurs to me that 30 years and nine months and two weeks ago, I was the combination of a single sperm cell and an egg, in the bodies of two different people. That right there is mind-blowing. Two people came together to make a new one. I was once divided--two separate entities.

In my mind, it is a beautiful thing. It's wondrous; magical, even. It's like we're getting older as a species, the way a single individual gets older--particularly in regard to the development of intelligence. As a population, we've grown smart. We can tell how babies are made to the tiniest detail.

Shifting gears to the present--
Today is the Year of Our Lord Feb. 27, 2012, the date of the 30th anniversary of my birth at the hands of Craig Smith and Kathleen Brooks.

My parents are both married to this day, and couldn't live without one another. They probably will each have their own internal reactions to that statement, but I believe it to be truly true.

As such, I am a lucky son, man, and father. I have a wealth of good, positive experiences to look back on, from my infancy to my late teens. There's always negativity, but it was never at the hands of my parents.

I was always the negative one.... curse you Marilyn Manson and my teenage disdain for authority.

ANYWAY!      ***   •••   ***   ∞∞∞

Right now, I am heating the last frozen bag of breast milk to feed BB. Megan's done pumping, the milk supply is slowly, predictably running shorter, and BB is nine months old.

She's only got the two bottom teeth sticking through, which means that ALL THE REST OF THEM must be growing and causing her pain, most likely at night when she keeps waking up.

Oh. My goodness. Let me tell you about last night. The adventures in sleeping with these kids sometimes, I swear.

So since the younguns and I are all getting over our respective sicknesses, we're all tired and yucky and almost not as happy as usual. It's just the way of sickness, ya know? Just a minor sore throat-deal for me. I've got snot, and so do they, but we all seem to be getting over it.

Combined with the sickness and the teething, BB has not been sleeping well at night for the past week. Last night was no exception. Megan went to sleep with Lucy at 9, and I played Skyrim for the first time. I put BB to bed just before that, and she stood up in her crib and cried at the door for about a full half hour, which seemed much longer. It makes me feel that instinctual parental guilt to hear her cry, but I'm pretty good at shutting that off now.

Benefits of age?

After Skyrim glitched and froze before real gameplay began, I turned it off and watched tv until bed. I get Megan, and we go to our bed together.

Over the course of about 20 or 30 minutes, both kids are making sounds--BB in our room, whimpering once every 5 min or so, and Lucy, from her room, making faint, then loud cries for help and general "I'm not happy"-ness from her bed.

I couldn't tell if it was Lucy or a faraway siren at first. When I realized it was her, I got out of bed and went to her.

The trouble was over The Case of the Missing Pacifier. She had lost one of two pacifiers about three weeks or so ago, but three or four nights ago, she lost the other one. Mama and I have both looked for it, but Lucy is the last one to have had it, and it's gone.

Explaining this to her does no good, especially in the middle of the night. She's too young anyway. I bet she understands more than she lets on, tho. Or maybe she lacks the language skills to respond adequately. Both? Eh.

The reason she was up and crying was because she didn't have her pacifier. She was angry, complaining, tired, and seemingly miserable. Writhing in bed when I found her. It was like she was having a bad dream she couldn't wake up from. I was able to console her, but she didn't want to cuddle, or hold my thumb, or look at me or anything.

I just laid my arm across her chest, and we lay there in bed, talking for a little while. Whenever I would say, "The pacifier's gone," it would make her cry. She was really sensitive. But, she was also doing it to herself.

I felt sorry for her, because she had been sucking on those things since mama and I sort of forced it on her when she was a baby. I regret that now. I didn't know better as a young parent. Now Lucy is experiencing what looks like withdrawal symptoms from going cold turkey off the pacifier.

But this time I didn't have anything to do with it! She really did lose it herself. I remember--she had woken up from a nap, had it in her mouth, was playing around all through the apartment ... and after a while it was gone.

That night I searched for it before she went to bed. Alas, we came up empty-handed, but I did find a long-lost toy under the couch. We scoured the living room and kitchen. That night, Lucy did fall asleep, but not without some tears and hard questions.

Then, lo and behold, three nights later, the pacifier addiction is keeping her up at night. It was so comforting to her, and it's a harsh dose of reality to lose it so quickly. So she's having a hard time.

Anyway, after laying with her for a while, she kept up this angry veneer, holding her hands up in the air (in protest to how I always tell her to put them down whilst trying to sleep), clapping every once in a while, and generally being a negative nancy. So I got a bit stern and said, "Stop it," in a loud, flat voice, once or twice. It didn't help, of course, but I was groggy, it was past midnight, and my patience was wearing thin.

She didn't stop being angry, so I left. After I shut her door she started the fake crying again. Didn't care.

I couldn't sleep right away. I was thinking of how some parents with violent children must be in a really miserable state, because short of tying them up with ropes, there's not much you can do to stop them. Anger only begets anger, and yelling and hitting are not productive. What if Lucy didn't lose this angry veneer and grow up an angry child and put me in that situation? What would I do? Counseling? What if that didn't help?

Hard thoughts. It is unlikely that life will turn out that way, but I was worried because this new, negative behavior from Lucy was strange and weirding me out. I'm also, sort of, a new parent still.

BB wakes up. It occurs to me I might never get to sleep that night. I keep beginning to drift off, and keep waking up to BB's short, random fusses.

Then Lucy walks into our room. Megan had been sleeping through all of this, but Lucy woke her up. Then Megan got up to get BB. I'd had enough--time for a new strategy. I went to Lucy's bed, alone.

I wake up a little while later. Can't remember if Lucy was in her bed with me or not. I go back to my bed. BB was in the crib, but she wakes up after I lay down. Megan retrieves her and nurses her in bed. I go back to Lucy's bed.

I remember, foggily, Lucy climbing into her bed with me, giving a couple feeble, last frustration sounds, and then falling asleep with me.

Megan wakes me up at 6:45 or so, cause she's about to leave for work.

Surprisingly, right now, and let me take a webcam shot of it for you...

Last bottle of breast milk, down the hatch. (12.02.27)
I'm awake and feeling good. And it's my birthday. And BB just sucked down the last bottle of breast milk that she'll... ever ... drink.

I can give her formula from here on out, and she does drink it, but it's not the same. Not as pure as breast milk; not as life-affirming. Megan's boobs are going to stop producing milk soon. We'll lose our baby to natural growth and have two toddlers.

No more baby. Sad and relieving.

You feelin' me, mothers and fathers? It's a complex emotion, watching your kids grow up.

If I ever get the baby itch again in a few years, please remind me of this blog entry.


Here's something else crazy that happened yesterday--I left my band.

For leaving my bandmates out in the cold, I feel bad. But they'll survive. And for hurting my friend Justin Metal, I feel sorrow.

But I am relieved to not have the band to worry about. Between school and the kids, it was another thing adding stress to my life. And that alone was killing me. There was a lot of band drama going on, and I had to end it.

Class. Class! Eyes up front!! 
Let's summarize all the weirdness surrounding my 30th b-day today:
  • got super drunk at birthday party last Friday, w/many friends--FTW!!
  • broke up with my band
  • BB drank her last bottle of breast milk
  • purchased internet hosting for my website for class, and began building my own website yesterday
  • many Facebook friends messaging me (with birthday wishes)
  • Megan got me two SWEEEEET video games that I've been wanting to play (see yesterday's post)
  • getting cards in the mail (with birthday wishes)
  • have to take care of the kids and go to school--which I refuse to skip, even on my birthday
  • finding rest an adventure last night
  • getting over cold
  • It's my 30th!
  • I'm realizing, slowly, that I'm no longer a 20-something. Give me a little longer to form an opinion on that--right now I'm ... well, until 7 p.m., I'm still 29.

All of these things together are making this a strange and wonderful birthday.


FotografĂ­a Moderna

Turns out I have a little time before class with no homework left to do.

I mean, I could do more, but I can't access the readings right now. Sometimes the links from my professor's webpage don't work.

Oh, well. Devilish smiley.

I have Blogging class tonight. The topic of discussion this week is modern photography, focusing on Flickr. I've read two of three pretty lengthy research papers on the subject (the third I can't access).

It ties directly into the subject of blogging, because modern photography is virtually completely digital. And with digital photography, you've got equipment specifically developed to be manipulated by a computer; namely, by the photographer with immediacy, not a photo company that is hampered by the pace of postal services.

One of the articles I read was on Flickr. Pretty cool stuff. Changing modern and amateur photography as we know it.

The other article delved into the failure of Kodak to adapt to the shift in photography from analogue to digital, a failure that crippled them. As a monolith of a company, old and steady but stubborn, they viewed digital photography as important too late. Also they spent too much money on research and development that produced almost nothing notable.

I like this class. School rules.

Last night I had Spanish. We're dealing now with affirmative and negative commands.

Mi tiempo para escribir ha terminado. Debe ir a la clase. ¡Adios amigos! Amo a todos.


Portlandia is not good for Lucy

Okay, I'm gonna try to do this short, cause there's a mountain of dishes to do, a mountain of reading and website development to get done, and Lucy finally stopped freaking out about this sketch on Portlandia that scared her.

It was the opening clip of episode four or five of season one, where there are these hands putting up flyers over one another. It was edited to be really erratic and abrasive, pretty lo-fi, and funnily angry. Let me see if I can find the clip...

In retrospect, I don't think I should have known better. Portlandia is a pretty insane show, even taking on Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! elements at times. Basically they amp up the crazy, all while keeping a pretty strict Portland/Pacific Northwest theme. It's not exactly bad for kids--the few swear words aren't paid extra attention, there's no steamy sex stuff, and no violence.

But it was the crazy element that scared Lucy. I can relate. Sometimes weird, otherworldly takes on everyday things can be really scary. If seen from the right light. I thought the sketch was hilarious, but I'm not 2.9 years old.

I had just sat down on the couch with BB and a bottle of formula. It was almost her nap time. She was tired and I wanted to give her a nice warm filling drink. I turned on the tv, cause feeding the baby a bottle is the only tv time I get during the day, and started that Portlandia episode.

Lucy came to sit on the couch next to us, and was checking out the show. When the sketch was nearing its apex at the end, Lucy just started crying all of a sudden. She put her head, turned away from the tv, on my shoulder and leaned on me, whimpering and sobbing. And I've got a baby on my lap, leaning on my chest and holding her own bottle, while I hold her.

Worried that Lucy's crying would make BB start crying, I said to Lucy, after the obligatory, 'What's wrong,' and 'It's a tv show, it's just pretend, you're gonna be fine,' "Get out of here, get off of me if you're gonna cry like that. Go into your room. Go."

That was my mistake. She did go into her room, but didn't stop crying. I continued watching the show, trying to enjoy it, feeling bad for Lucy, trying not to feel bad for Lucy, and to keep calm for the baby, who was falling asleep on me.

I noticed after a few more minutes that BB had nodded off with the bottle in her mouth, letting it drop to her chest. I took it out of her hands, which woke her up. She started crying, cause she's a baby and I just took a bottle away from her, never mind that she'd fallen asleep with it.

I carried her into our bedroom (cause she shares it with mom and I) and shut the door to drown out the crying, whimpering toddler, who probably wanted my attention more than she was actually scared. Kids get stuck in what my daycare Jedi friend Todd calls a 'crying loop.' They start crying, keep themselves crying, eventually forget why, and at that point are unable to stop.

BB is such a cuddler, more than her sister. She loves it when we rock her to sleep and sing to her. My standard is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which calmed her right down. She was falling asleep, her round little face with her fat cheeks facing up at me, the back of her head in the crux of my elbow. Cute stuff. These are the magic moments that parents remember.

BB went to sleep in the crib quickly after I set her down. Then I went into Lucy's room. This poor little girl needed some consoling. She had probably been in there a full 15 minutes.

I found her on her bed, looking up to catch my eye coming in, to promptly resume crying. She keeps a tight schedule. She was trying to get me to show some compassion, for goodness sake, and not shrug her off. She did deserve a bit of shrugging off, cause her crying wasn't completely genuine, but in this case, she was truly upset. About 70%.

(Skip to the present: she just came in from watching Diego to sit with me at the kitchen table. Wanted to listen to Yes' Roundabout. This is a rejuvenated kid, but with baggy, tired, freshly cried eyes.)

I sat down on the bed with her, as she was throwing herself at me, wanting the hugging cuddles so bad. So of course I delivered. I sat down with her and gave her a big long hug, and let her cry on me until she calmed down. The dada power is that of the Force.

We lay together on her bed, further cuddling the problems away, talking about stuff. Temptation with the possibility of watching Go Diego Go! was what got her up--the one thing that could inspire her. We walked out to the living room together.

"Do you wanna lay down on the couch and watch Diego? With a blanket and a pillow?"

"Yeah, dada," she sighed. Relief was beginning to wash over her. She had her pacifier in her mouth and everything. This girl has been yawning ever since she got up today.

The tv was on and Lucy was cuddling under the blanket. I took the hair tie out of her hair, letting it flow over the pillow and over the couch arm. Went into the kitchen.

I took a juice box, the only juice we still have (we don't buy juice very much anymore), squeezed it into a big sippy cup, filled it the rest of the way with cool water, and gave it to her. For the next 15 minutes she lay there, contended and happy. Safe. Warm.

The baby was sleeping. Dada had a second to breathe. I sat down to write.

It didn't end up being short, did it?


No Nametag

In bed by 11:01! And that's no lie, the clock just turned one minute past target time just before my head hit the pillow. Though a minute late, I'm proud of myself.

Let's see, what did I do today ... laundry, dishes, schoolwork, watched kids a little bit, put older kid down for nap and bedtime, recorded some bass guitar, watched a bit of a Stephen Fry show. My life is so not interesting!

But it is busy, fulfilling, and busy.

Laptop computers that you can type on as you go to sleep, in bed, rule. What awesome machines. We are a lucky generation. pf [p[[p of losers

Time to work. On sleep! Be good, my followers, and good things.


Quitting Pacifier Cold Turkey

Let me try to effectively map out the physical occurrences, my responding thought patterns, and resulting hypothesis.

It all began with Lucy asking to cuddle on the bed in my room. It's the first time she ever asked to specifically cuddle, and she was speaking so quietly and timidly that I didn't understand at first. She said the word "cuddle" kind of like "cud."

Since I'm not one to refuse my daughter a cuddle, I said yes. It took me a minute or two to turn off the same episode of my tv show I'd tried finishing twice today, and to get the laptop and cords out of BB's arm's reach.

Somewhere in there, Lucy said, "I need a pacifier."

Trying to sound nice, I said, "You don't need a pacifier to cuddle. It's not time to go to sleep."

She reacted negatively, whining and kinda throwing her hands down. I kept cleaning up and then laid down on my bed and invited her up with me. At first she wouldn't get up on the bed, but stood at the side of the bed, whining. She was really pissed about the lack of pacifier, but I wasn't going to go retrieve it for her. It wasn't even out of her reach.

By the way, this is the second time I've not given her her pacifier when laying down, but the first time was for a real nap. We lay in bed together that day, about two or three weeks ago, and she wouldn't even look at me. She had no interest in reading the book she'd picked out, or in squeezing my thumb like she does every time I put her down. Kept her head turned away the whole time. I've never seen her so dismissive of me. Taking away her pacifier makes her crazy.

She didn't fall asleep that day, and I felt so bad that after 15 min or so, I gave in and gave it to her.

Today was pretty much the same thing, but I sort of egged her on to get even angrier, trying to force her to deal with the issue. Let me explain.

So, today, I was laying there, and up she climbed, finally. But she wouldn't come close to me--she kept a good foot between us. I enticed her over by saying that if she came closer to me, she could see the pigeons on the power line outside.

She did, and we laid there together, on our backs, but she would struggle when I tried to hug her. She kept mumble-whisper-whimpering about Pacifier. She didn't want to cuddle without it. Nothing was good without that pacifier.

Seeing that this was total bullshit, that I am better than a pacifier, that she's almost three and should just give it up, that her sister doesn't use one, and that this negative reaction is not healthy, I grabbed her as I said, "Do you love dada, or do you love the pacifier?"

This pissed her off. She started crying, loudly, the kind where you know the kid is trying to get you to stop doing something, rather than being truly sad about something. Like, if she was a grownup and someone was doing that to her, she'd yell, "Fuck you get off me."

She tried her damndest to get up, but I kept her on me, and held her head to my chest. It was starting to seem that this pacifier thing was a catalyst for something bigger.

I held her there on my chest for about 5 long seconds. Then I let her slide off and back onto the bed. She didn't want to get down. I had sort of calmed her down, even though I basically goaded her into getting pissed. With cuddling. That she requested.

She and I lay there together while she calmed down. She did the whole shaky-breathing thing kids do when they're calming down--it kinda sounds like a rapid succession of light hiccoughs. I told her she could get up if she wanted, but she said no. So we lay there longer.

Then I had to get up to tend to BB, who had been crawling around on the floor the whole time.


A few minutes later, I asked Lucy if she wanted to go outside, to which she responded, "No."

That's become her automatic reaction to anything mom and dad say to her when she's in a bad mood and doesn't want to hear us, or wants drama. In these cases, I try to ask her what if she wants to do something she likes, to cheer her up. She always says 'no' too quickly, without considering the question and the potential benefits of an affirmative response. It always frustrates her, and she always ends up asking for the same thing I just offered. I say no to these follow-up questions. In doing so, I'm hoping she will learn that answering with 'no' once is all it takes to make something not happen.

After she said 'no' today, though, she said, "We can stay inside." I said 'ok.' It seemed she really didn't want to go outside. But a few minutes later, like clockwork, she said, "Go outside?"

At that point I was getting irritated with her, and shutting down, so I just sat back down on the couch and finally finished my tv show.

Meanwhile, BB was contentedly crawling around, discovering the house. While I was watching tv, my feet on the automan, her head slowly creeps up from the other side. As she stands, I see she's holding the pants she just had on. The whole time, she's flashing me this huge, two-bottom-teeth smile. I was probably making a silly face too. I always do that.

Keeping that smile, she puts a part of her pants in her mouth, bites it, and rips it (not literally) out from between her two teeth and top gums. It must have felt good on that teething mouth!

At this point, I'm watching tv, BB's just being cute, and Lucy's in my room, audibly whining and complaining. She runs up to the couch at one point, with, "Dadaaaa! Help meee!" in her trademark whisper-yell. At least she's not literally yelling at me. One thing Lucy truly hates is loud noises. But she was complaining hard, still in a bad mood about the pacifier issue.

Perhaps wanting to pick a fight with me cause she thought I deserved it. Perhaps I still do.

But then it dawned on me--she's not truly upset about anything. How could she still be mad about that pacifier thing? We had totally moved on, but there wasn't enough of an environment change to bring her out of that mood. Nothing had truly changed, and, if she's anything like me, and her mother, she was holding a grudge like a champ. And until something snapped her out of it, she had blinders on.

In addition, everyone loves drama, right? Kids sort of have to experiment with dramatizing everything when they're that age--that's how they learn how to avoid it in the future, right? Or to at least understand where it comes from? I remember my dramatic times. My brother had them too when we were kids. And there my daughter was, running with this new, exciting, yet negative feeling. History repeats itself.

I came to the conclusion, whether it was right or not, that the worst thing I could have done in that situation was to let her get under my skin--to allow that negativity to transfer to me. That would have been playing right into her trap.

When I did this long-term mild-tantrum stuff as a kid, I totally loved it when my parents would get pissed. It meant I had power to get through to them, to begin to leave kid-dom, to have my own adult (-like) experiences.

Based on Lucy's angry reaction to being denied the pacifier, I think I need to take it away from her. Just erase all pacifiers from the house. Lucy will be pissed at first, but she'll get over it.

What do you think? Should I cut her off cold-turkey, or gradually? I don't see a point to doing it gradually, but I don't know everything. Enlighten me if you do.

After that--getting her to poo in the toilet... oh lord, only in my wildest dreams (or whenever I stop being lazy and make her sit on the thing every day until she does.)

How did YOU potty-train your 3-year-old?


"Hold On, Dada. Hold On."

I literally can't sit down these days. It's the second kid, man. Just sitting here now and typing this is a luxury, but I know I've got to get up again, and check to see if BB stood up in her crib for the fifth time, instead of going to sleep. I just keep going back in there, laying her down, telling her goodnight, and walking out.

She was almost asleep before I walked out of there. Just like her sister, she'll go out like a charm if I'm ...

Lucy just walked into the kitchen asking to eat something I couldn't understand, and now I'm roped into getting her waffles with maple syrup. Two things to get up to do. Better turn the tv off on my way. Probably won't finish this blog post.

Lucy, one month from turning three, is getting more beautiful and personable by the day, and also more destructive to the physical elements of our house. She's not used to having to share me with BB, but she does a very good job of playing by herself when mom and dad are having a hard time. So now I really will stop typing and do the work I dug myself into. My kids deserve it.


Overdosing on Diego to Beethoven's 5th

Lucy's gonna be all done jumping now, dada. Really, dada? Really?

"Help me, dada! Help me! I'm stuck! Eeerrrrrrrrrr! I'm stuck!" She wasn't stuck. This is called Too Much Go Diego Go! Syndrome, or TMGDGS.

Lucy tends to think that she's an animal on Diego, and needs to call out for help. Perhaps she thinks Diego will come save her and then be her best friend forever.

Maybe she has a crush on him. She only wants to watch that particular show on Netflix nowadays. We've even introduced her to super-cute Pocoyo, to no effect. When asking her what she wants to watch, for the past ... at least six months, it's been solely Diego. So what happens when Lucy starts understanding that people can make out with each other and it's fun?

She'll probably handle the knowledge better than I did, me being a boy and all.

Shifting gears, a little while ago the Baby Einstein version of Beethoven's ninth symphony made her cry. Ever since then, she sometimes asks me to sing the 'baby einstein song,' to which I usually reply in the affirmative and commence singing, cause it's easy and I only have to sing a few bars.

But today, I was like, "Do you wanna hear that song for real?"

"Yeah!" was her excited reply.

Found it on Spotify. Listening to it now. It kicks ass. I never appreciated classical music so much as a child. I mean, I liked it, but I never understood it. How grande it can be. Beethoven's fifth always pumps me up nowadays. The song contains fervor and fury and a crazy beauty. Not sure how much Lucy likes it, but she doesn't have to. (CORRECTION: Lucy cried to Beethoven's Ninth. I was playing and commenting on Beethoven's Fitfh. I never put that together in the kitchen that day.)

She's only 2 years and 11 months old (in 10 days).

It just occurred to me--you may be wondering, "How do I know that, when Lucy's crying for help, she's not being truthful?" Well, I'll tell you, astute question asker.

It's all about the tone of voice. Lucy says it in the same way that the animals on the show say it.

If she's really in trouble, she makes sure to cry before she can make full words with her mouth. The freakout in her voice is audible. This dada knows when his Lucille is in trouble.

Look how beautiful she is. My very own daughter.

I've been blessed with two of them! Bb's starting to say "Dada." Oh my lord the preciousness....