Saturday, December 30, 2006


It was a good year for Baxter, as he received a pony from Papa and Nana. Most importantly, it doesn't need to be fed or cleaned much, aside from the occasional cracker smashed into it's plastic mane.
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our free thinking toddler

We've entered the realm of independence with Baxter. We had heard about defiance as a character flaw of other children but had never witnessed it before with our wonderful, perfect little child. well, he's created his own prefix for anything we ask or suggest for him to do. Want to get a clean diaper?" Nah, I not get clean diaper. I not. Want daddy to put socks on you? Nah, I not daddy put socks on. Sometimes we can trick him into refusing cookies, bouncy rides on my belly or other fun things but he usually quickly corrects himself. "Nah, I not want ice, Baxter wants ice cream, BAXTER WANTS ICE CREAM!"

This fun little trait revealed itself at a recent slightly public event. We hosted a Santa party for our neighbors and friends last week. Jen's mom use to host a similar party and it was a treasured memory for her. So she had long ago planned to do something similar when we had children old enough to enjoy it. After weeks of stalking mall Santa's, calling the admin offices of the local shopping plaza's, etc., she finally tracked down Santa and Mrs. Claus for our party.
Both Bax and Paigey received Santa and the missus well, no stranger fear, mainly curious and excited. But as Baxter went to receive his gift at the appropriate time, Danielle suggested that he give Santa a hug for his present and to give his parents, grandparents and aunts a photo-op, he stopped, turned to face Danielle and announced clearly and loudly for all to hear, " No, I not hug Santa." Luckily, Santa is vet and took this Heisman well.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Emperor's new (gender neutral?) clothes

I believe the Patriot Act allows me to inflict this form of torture...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Getting by

Somedays, I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. It's not that the kids are bad per se, but more a combination of fatigue (maybe no solution to this one), guilt associated with not contributing income and the fond memories of lunch breaks, coffee breaks, ice cream breaks, etc. In truth, I don't feel like a good father on days of almost nervous breakdown and wonder if quality is more important than quantity. I imagine I'll fight the urge to head back to work throughout my tenure as stay-at-home-dad. For now, I'm buoyed by the little gems of parenting and that fact that I'm rather lucky to not miss anything noteworthy that happens when the kids turn on the charm. Paige has almost completely erased the "bad baby" stigma. She's such a little cherub, smiling so hard that her cheeks get all scrunched up and it appears that she's got a double barrel helping of RedMan chewing tobacco. As for Bax, he continues to impress with amazing displays of maturity. A few days ago, he announced at 10:45 am that he was going to "go nap". He hasn't put himself to bed much at all during his stay with us, so I naturally doubted his words and tried to distract him with food. "How about lunch or a snack?"
His response, "I go lay down".
Lay down he did, and 3 hours later he woke refreshed and ready for that snack. (How 'bout cracker snack?) I wondered hopefully if our toddler sleep training was complete. (stupid optimism!)

Then a few a nights ago, I had a brief glimpse into a possible career of investigative sniffing. It was about 8:30 at night and he was having some trouble getting sleep (see?). Jennie and I had settled down into our nightly "we're too exhausted to work out so let's have a bowl of ice cream with whipped cream on top" ritual. After a few spoonfulls of CCCD (that's chocolate chip cookie dough for the novices out there), I went upstairs to coax him back into bed. I met him at the door and picked him up so he was eye level or maybe better put, mouth-to-nose level. He looked at me and asked, "Cancake?(pancake)"
"No silly, daddy's not eating pancakes at night!"
Pretty darn-near close enough from viewpoint, he had me.
"Ok buddy, you got me. I just had some cookie dough. Maybe you can have some tomorrow if you go to sleep." He was asleep in 5 minutes.

See you on the playground!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Catching up

It's been a long, cold pause in Manny posts, sorry to all my word-hungry fans. I'd like to claim that my busy schedule is the reason but for the most part, I just couldn't think of anything to write. That all changes today. We've had a bithday, transition to a big boy bed and a family wedding. September 19,Baxter became an official 2 year old . I started thinking about his birth and the wonder of it all and the memories of that day flooded my brain. It's amazing all the changes that have occured to our lives in just 2 calender years. I'll try to crystalize my thoughts, but it may be hard to put into words.
I've been blessed with a strong memory and often times, I feel like I'm actually in the past, reliving moments worth remembering. When I think about Baxter's birth, the sights, smells and sounds are very powerful. Here we had this fresh, clean little person, capable of learning all manner of stuff we felt he needed to learn. He was completely dependent on us and other loved ones around him. Now, in just 2 short years, he has his own character and language that makes us love him more each day.
Here's a few of my favorites:
How 'bout warm milk? (getting ready for bed, his favorite beverage)
Whoa Baxter! ( doing anything too fast -running, spinning, etc...)
Whoa! (After burping........we're working the proper commentary for this action)
Bye! Soon! (Omiting 'See you' from the last phrase)
Daddy sing/Momma sing
I'm leaving out many, but the gist is that, we're having a blast and look forward to upcoming learnings.

The big boy bed transition is complete, we're back to the old crib routine of a few books, possibly a song, pile into bed with a nest of animals and blankets and then lights out. We were in Malone this weekend for my brothers wedding and he even survived a bed without toddler rails. Life is good.
Speaking of nuptials, my brother Jeremy married long-time sweetheart Stephanie this past Saturday and needless to say, it was fabulous. I gave a best man speech that went quite smoothly (thanks to my speech coach, Jennie, my practice audience of Baxter and Paige) and the reception was awesome. It would be better described as a 'rocking good time'. Jennie's dress was amazing, I'm looking for some more formal events so I can see her in it again soon.
As I practiced last week to Baxter, anytime I would pause slightly for effect or pose a question for thought, Bax would answer, "Yeah" or "yes", just like he was in a Baptist church.

I'll try to pop in more often now, see you on the playground.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Safety Net

The subject of child safety has been on my mind lately. It started last week, after there was a multiple homicide in our comfy, homey little Chittenden County. A domestic dispute in the town of Essex left 2 women dead, one of which was shot in a school. A truely sad and senseless act of violence. On a sidenote, has anyone ever commited murder that was full of sense??
The next day as I left Baxter at daycare, I had an admitted illogical sense of fear for his welfare. What if someone barged into the center and started shooting?! I had to force myself to keep driving home, that he would be ok, that it was more likely that we would be in a car accident to witness daycare violence. Then tonight, my sister Danielle who lives with us asked if she could take Bax to the county fair. Seems perfectly fine and safe, Danielle is a fairly sharp person and lovingly cares for her nephew and niece when she's in charge. However, both Jennie and I had pangs of fear when we thought of Baxter without his parental protectors. Anyway, he went and was fine and had an absolute blast. As wet-behind-the-ears parents, we are still learning to trust others with our children and its hard. I remarked recently that I don't fully feel like the kids are safe unless I'm physically by their side. One could take this to mean that I don't trust anyone but myself. I tried to explain that I knew this was irrational but it didn't come off cleanly and I think I slightly insulted Jen. I think the moral of the story is that parents love their children with such a passion, we have a hard time understanding how we could live without them and that we need to have the complete control over their wellbeing. I should add that our direct family also loves our kids with similiar abnormal-ness and wouldn't let anything happen to them either. It helps my sanity to keep this in mind.
On a lighter note, Baxter had a rough allergy spell a few nights ago. He woke at midnight on Monday, which was the last night of a hellish call weekend for Jennie(& us). You see, his father forgot(what was I saying earlier about being the guardian of wellness/safety?) to give his dose of Zirtec for seasonal allergies, resulting in an itchy nose. After pushing the meds (that's doctor talk for "giving the medicine"), I knew it would take a while to kick in and thus, we were going to be up for an indeterminate amount of time. So I asked if he wanted to lay in mommy and daddy's bed (Jennie was absent this night). He said yes and while we made our way to the room he asked," Watch baseball?" Well, the Sox were on the west coast and the game was still on, so that's exactly what we did. I fell asleep for a few minutes and thought he would do the same. Except that when I woke and looked over, he was still watching the game. This was even more extraordinary because the Sox were (and still are) in the midst of a major losing streak. Thus, never let it be said that Bax is a fair-weather fan, he can watch the BoSox even when they are stinking up the joint. I think he was contemplating who Boston should keep for '07 and which players should be traded, he's got Theo on his toy phone speed dial.

We're off for the Lowell family traditional Labor Day blowout at Star Lake in the Adirondacks. Hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend.

See you on the playground.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Big Boy Bed

At the risk of jinxing myself, Baxter has been successfully transitioned to a big bed boy in the past week. We did a little switcharoo with bedrooms, Danielle went into the guest room, Baxter into her old room and Paige into Baxter's old room, which is officially titled "the nursery". It was time to get Paige into a crib and out of our bedroom (yeah!) and after much hand-wringing and debates about who gets what furniture, etc., they are both sleeping in their own rooms.
If you've been reading along, we decided to go with the prisoner theme of twin matress on the floor for Bax. We contemplated using a frame with rails but he just seems too short to manuver a climb down in the morning without stumbling to a concussion. He's doing well and only needs a little time with one of us in bed before getting comfy enough to fall asleep on his own. Next up, potty time.
We had a nice visit last week from Jennie's great uncle Arthur from NJ. Baxter and Arthur got along like ham & eggs. Arthur has trouble hearing and seeing (he's 88) and Baxter can't read or speak clearly enough yet. The result: Baxter could bring books over to Arthur's lap and not be the least bit aware that Arthur couldn't read the book or hear/understand the gibberish that comes out of his mouth. I mean Baxter's mouth....
Funny story from last week. I went to donate blood (critical need, get in line people!) and as I was getting ready to leave (ie: grabbing free pizza, crackers, donuts, etc...) this nice lady went through this gracious, proclaimation to the guy leaving in front of me. She said, "Thank you so much for coming in today. I just want to let you know that by your act, you saved at least 1 and possibly 3 people's lives today."
He had a slightly puzzled look on his face and left the building. A coworker of this lady leaned over to her and said, "Mary, that was the pizza guy!"

See you on the playground!

Friday, August 04, 2006

true joys of (parent) life

I was witness to another stunning development a few nights back while putting Baxter to bed. The general routine for bed involves a few literary favorites (Big Tractor, Papa Get the Moon, etc..) a little gentle rocking accompanied by the Carly Simon classic "You're The Love of My Life", which in our family is titled, "The Avocado Song". Bax really loves this song, as his mom has been singing it to him since the early days. In fact, his 1st 4 word sentence was, "Daddy sing avocado song?" Mostly, he wants Mom to sing it but I've been practicing up so that I can pinch hit when Jennie is tired or at the hospital.
Anyway, I was well into the 2nd chorus when Baxter slid off my lap and toddled to his crib. I kept up the singing and rubbed his back for a few seconds when he sat up and put his hand over my mouth. Stunned, I looked at him for a second to see this little pensive face struggling with deep thought. Obviously, he had something to say and he was searching his limited but rapidly developing database of vocabulary for the right thing to see. I like to think he was trying to protect my fragile psyche and was struggling for the gentlest choice of words. So, after a few seconds, he decided what to do. He gave me his little wave, which in reality looks like he's turning a door knob and said cheerfully, "Bye!"
"Oh?! Uh, goodnight Bax. I love you."
He replied, "Goodnight. I wuh you." and plopped down on his bear and blanket pile.
I wasn't upset at all. Quite the opposite, it gave me a nice warm feeling and I chuckled to myself on the way out of his room. These are the moments that make parenting priceless, in my opinion. Not only was he polite, but he realized he was tired and wanted some peace and quiet so he could go to sleep.
Paige has been pretty spectacular too. She has fallen asleep a few times without the straight jacket treatment, which allows us to stare at her little feet (one of my favorite pastimes). She's becoming a champion nurser and her scrawny legs are starting to get puffy (ie: fat). Baxter seems to like her more, even if he still clobbers her with his affection.
I've reached the 2 month mark as a stay at home dad and while many days are tiring and challenging, I don't for one moment regret my choice. I look forward to the many more opportunities that Baxter and Paige will give me to rejoice in their wonderment.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New Post-It note:Don't leave pens in the baby's crib!

Before anyone calls Social Services, the subject header is a joke. You see, Baby Paige has not been a good nurser or bottle feeder since day 1. We recently discovered that this could perhaps be caused by some yeasty oral thrush and have started this treatment. 1st person to point out it took 10+ weeks for us to solve this wins a prize! (Stupid parents!!) Anyway, the treatment is one purple popsicle per night (another joke, I've got bags of 'em!) No, it's called Gentian Violet and it's a tad messy. We've taken to calling her Baby Joker; it's easier for Baxter to pronounce anyway. Another 4 days of this and hopefully we'll be in the clear.

Baxter update: He has graduated from crying in the morning to be released from his pen to calls of MOM-MA! DAD-DY! It's quite a cute development and that leads me to another topic-when do we transition him to the "Big-Boy Bed". We've learned of multiple opinions on this subject from a) leave him in the crib indefinitely, can't beat the "cage-like" characteristics! b)Throw a mattress or some blankets on the floor like a hostel. It'll teach him humility. Our personal favorite is c)Wait till he tries to climb out of his crib. To this, my sister-in-law responds, "So, you wait until he potentially falls 3-4 feet to the hard wood floor and then you give him a nice safe alternative." It's kinda like toddler fear factor! Rappel successfully down the crib and you win! Maybe I'll just Gerry-rig higher sides on the crib and leave him in it until he gets his drivers license....

See you on the playground!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why do they hate me so?

We as parents are constantly looking to our children for a sign that they genuinely like us for who we are and not because we hold the key to the cracker cupboard. It took me three long months with Baxter to learn how to control this insanity. Back when he was still pretty wet behind the ears, we did not see eye to eye. He cried constantly and wouldn't give me the time of day. I would come home from work and give 110% in my greeting. His response: nothing. Do you know who I am? Without me, dear boy, you are nothing! You will learn some proper manners and respond courteously when I ask you in a sing-song voice, "Whose my wittle man?" Meanwhile, Jennie had no issues; she was in love and could bond with Baxter while sleeping. Of course, I blamed nursing. He was a hungry little tank and she could feed him with her own body. To top it off, this nursing thing helped her lose all sorts of weight without even trying! Meanwhile, I would hide in the basement, drowning my angst in a bowl of ice cream while waiting for my fat pants to come out of the dryer. I use to think, "If I could just have one boob, just one, I'd be so powerful!"
After a while, we (I) figured out how to deal with it and everything has been grand since. Now Paige comes along and the roles have flipped. I seem to be able to get gigantic smiles out of her while Jennie is an allergen for the little girl; getting her to cry and writhe her body anytime she comes near. I know there is no logical or scientific reason to believe this, but still..... Here’s a recent pic of the kids.

See you on the playground!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Looonnng weekend

We survived (sorta)! Jennie was on call this weekend and for those who don't know it, that means she was not available to us. Jennie is an OB/GYN at a burgeoning private practice and being on-call means bringing 3-4 new SS#'s into the world each day. I don't know why a weekend alone with the kids seems harder than weekdays, they just are! Perhaps it's because all my life I've been programmed to think of the weekend as free time, time to relax, maybe paint half of the porch steps, and the icing on the cake-stare at some tender morsels of marinated meats & veggies on the grill. Perhaps I should start viewing the weekend like a Thursday. Thursday has been pledging at Phi Wanna BeAWeekend, especially among college-aged folks for years now. Maybe you have a rousing good time on Thursday but it's not the end of the world if you don't. I'll get to work on that.
Anyway, we're doing ok. Baxter did his best Jimmy "Superfly" Snooka impersonation off the couch Friday night and ended up a nice shiner on his left cheek. Once again, a sister came to the rescue, this time it was Ashley. Ash is leaving soon on a cross-country road trip with some friends in an attempt to stretch college into the summer (Ashley just reluctantly graduated from Siena last month). Surprisingly, she still needs help reading.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

As Jennie & I considered this stay-at-home-dad gig a while back, we considered the remote possibility that Baxter might like daycare better than home life. With all the scheduled snack time, loads of trucks and other fun stuff, who could blame him, right? Thus with no educational training, we sampled some arts & crafts a few days ago. He looks happy, right? (I swear, I let him take a nap as soon as he replicated a Van Gogh). Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Building a 'Uterus'

My 1st week on the job and after a tumultuous beginning, things are going really well. Monday was Jennie's 1st day back at work and she was on call to boot. Thus, I was alone with both kids from mid-morning til roughly 8:30 without her. Luckily, I received some aid from my sister Danielle and sister-in-law Suzanne. Danielle lives with us while attending college and Suzanne makes the occasional 6pm drop-in after work which is officially titled "I'm not here to eat, but......what's that pizza taste like anyway?"
Joking aside, I was in need of some help and they both came to the rescue. Baxter had fallen down some steps and received a fresh egg on his head late in the afternoon and both decided to be hungry at the same any rate, each day was an improvement and we're all getting along famously.
In fact I may be able to proclaim that I've finally built my uterus, or at least it's a work in progress. What? That's not a common metaphor? Sometime ago, Jennie had an amazing day while a resident on a oncology rotation.
"We did the most amazing thing today! Some bad stuff happened (I won't bore or gross you out with actual medical lingo) and we had to build a new uterus out of leftover tissue, some catgut and intense will (feeling inadequate MacGyver?)."
My response felt weak before it left my lips.
"Well I had to put a large purchase order together for Nalgene because everyone loves those colorful plastic bottles.........nevermind, I got nothing."
I relayed this story to a co-worker friend of mine during some cubicle-chat. We were both feeling bummed over the lack of impact our work lives had on societal needs. Inspired, she crafted a motto for us-"Build YOUR Uterus!" She went so far as to write this on my whiteboard. Interestingly, not one person asked what it meant and HR didn't leave any warning slips in my mailbox.
Well Melissa, I think I've found my uterine building project!

Editors note-My wife tells me that it's impossible to actually build a uterus, making my recollection a little shady. Thus, I think this motto can also be used by the Gynecologic community. We all need some motivation!

See you on the playground!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Peace corp's got nothing on me

Hardest job you'll ever love, eh? Let's see.....
Description-Must be able to multi-task, extreme flexibility needed, irregular and sometimes, non-existent breaks, must handle bodily waste, irritable customers, must be able to lift heavy objects (and they only get heavier)
Hours-all of them
Salary-volunteership (who needs cash?!)
Benefits-watching the fruits of labor develop into a wonderful contribution to society.

In case you're confused, this is the description for the latest job that I've taken--I'm staying home with our two young kids. Don't get me wrong, the Peace Corp is a wonderful program that allows folks to spend a few years sunning themselves in the Pacific, fishing and catching up on 20 years worth of reading. But as the title of this post says, this job has its own brand of unique challanges. Nevertheless, I'm thrilled to be here and don't have any plans currently to leave this post. The decision to do this came after we added Baby Paige to the stable that already includes Baxter (22 months). For the past 14 months, Jennie and I have run in the rat-race known by many.
6am, wake, throw some food in Baxters cage, er, I mean crib.
6:30, get Baxter dressed for daycare
7am, breakfast for the rest of us, make lunches.
7:45-drive to daycare, maybe pick up diapers on the way and a 4th cup of coffee.
8:30-5 work (blah, blah).
5:15-pick up Baxter, race home.
5:45-make nutritious dinner while fending off a ravenous Baxter.
6:45-15 minutes of play, then up to the bath.
8pm-Baxter in bed, clean up kitchen.
9pm-plans for gym are scraped, retire to couch with bowl of favorite B&J's.

You know the Jerry Greenfield saying? "If it's not fun, why do it?" I worked at Ben & Jerrys and this resonated with our situation. Anyway, you get the idea.....I'm now the chief household manager.

I'll leave you with research of stay at home dads revealed that we (the dads) don't really like the moniker "Mr Mom". While this doesn't personally offend yours truely, I feel good knowing that someone is watching my back in defense of insensitive nicknames.

See you on the playground!