Week 24: Development

Week 24:  Development

Week 24: Development

Happy 6th month birthday Little Dude.

Responsibility can breed insecurity.

The knowledge that all accountability falls on squarely on your shoulders can make you question your tactics and the results.  Am I doing this correctly?  Is there a better strategy?  What are the consequences if I fail?

There is no larger responsibility than guiding a young life, and given the rapid pace of development in the early stages, there is no shortage of opportunity for insecurity.  Parents usually maintain pretty high standards for themselves, but young ones are much more resilient than we give them credit for.  The insecurity is often misguided

But that doesn’t stem the flood of uncertainty.

Is he eating enough?  Is he eating too much?  Why isn’t he pooping?  Why is he pooping so much?  Are we causing the reflux?  Is he too small?  Is his head too big?  Is he focusing enough?  Why does his hair look like he’s 50?

To add to the insecurity, we go to the doctor’s office where they make random measurements and tell us where our creation stacks up against averages.  And inevitably the young one visits with other young ones, and the comparison contest continues.

Ooohhh…she’s doing this and we’re not.  He’s this big and we’re only here.  If he can do it, should we be able to?

We’ve had a lot of opportunity to compare, and I’d say the first lesson of parenting should be don’t compare….ever.

The Intimidator

The Intimidator

In Week Nine I mentioned my newest nephew, Little Dude’s senior by 19 days, The Intimidator.  This beast was 20 pounds at birth….ok, maybe not, but he’s a giant…with a Cassey Cassum radio voice!  The Intimidator has consistently been in the 95th growth/size percentile compared to Little Dude’s 25th percentile.  And in the early stages, 19 days is a large opportunity for development.  We’re constantly talking with the Lady in the Shoe about updates on the bambinos.  It’s easy to let the mind run wild.

The first instinct is to wonder, question, speculate, but there’s no reason to draw conclusions.  Everyone is different.  Everyone will develop at a different pace.  Sure, it makes sense to have a vague sense of developmental stages and averages, but no need to pay more than a passing glance.

The Intimidator will level out…or The Lady in the Shoe will have a 6 foot 200 pound four year old on her hands.   My guess is nature will move towards a happy median.

But that doesn’t stop a Mom and Dad from feeling insecure.

Little Dude was consistently rolling over by Week 15, but here we are at Week 24, and I haven’t seen a roll in at least a month.  I’ve heard rumors of a roll here and there, but nothing consistent.  He’s not regressing.  Just not rolling.  As if he’s been there, done that.  He’ll do tummy time and just chill, maybe roll onto his side.  Then he’s over it and screams.  But no roll.

What are we to make of this?  Should we be concerned?

We’ve gotten a lot of input, and most don’t seem alarmed.  As long as he’s not regressing things are good.

He’s using his legs.  He’s trying to sit up.  When he’s on his tummy he’s starting to find his knees.  He’s starting to eat solid food.

He seems to be progressing.  But are we missing something?  Or just being insecure parents?

As if on cue, Little Dude gave us the answer today.  To celebrate his six month b-day, Little Dude decided to form his first semblance of a two syllable word/sound, and to the Dude’s great honor, he spit out “Dada”… three times!

I wasn’t there to witness it, but Mrs. Dude assures me it was no accident.  He was repeating after her directly.

Alright L.D, I hear ya.  You’re progressing.  No need to worry.  I’m giving up my insecurity.

My guess is it could return from time to time, but I’ll try to keep it at bay.

Week 21 – Dirty Secret

Dirty Secret

Dirty Secret

Last week, in response to the post about Little Dude’s acrobatics, Lady in the Shoe left the following comment:

“That Little Dude won’t be happy unless he is flying moch 3 with his hair on fire . . . wow is he a dare devil!

The Wiggles are creepy and so are a lot of other kids shows. Just know that most shows spend time and money researching the learning and entertainment from the kids’ perspective.  And enjoy!

PS  That is one loved swing – judging from the loks of the pillow…hahaha”

Ah, that Lady in the Shoe, as witty as she is wise.  Nice Top Gun quote; touche.  And great Wiggles input; gracias.  But the point I would like to emphasize is her PS.

“PS  That is one loved swing – judging from the loks of the pillow…hahaha”

Well, thanks for pointing out that the swing was looking grungy.  Are you picking up on the sarcasm?  There’s a little layered in there.

The Shoe Lady’s comment gave me a great reason to crack the whip.  Mrs. Dude had to take some advanced engineering classes to figure out how to get the swing off the stand, but Lady in the Shoe, you’ll be happy to know we are no longer sitting our child in filth on a regular basis…not in the swing anyway.

Other than calling us on our lack of hygiene, Lady in the Shoe made an important point.  That swing has indeed seen much love over the course of the first 21 weeks of L.D.’s existence.

In fact, it has been the sole slumber zone for all 140 nights leading up to this past week.

Little Dude fell in love with the swing immediately…as in the first night he arrived home.  The constant motion put him out quick and kept him out.  We’ve settled into a routine where he’s now waking up once a night to eat, but there were plenty of nights early on where he was giving us a full night sleep in that swinging miracle.

However, we received advisory suggestions from multiple sources that mentioned we should have had him out of the swing and in his crib weeks ago.  I think the Pediatrician may have been one of those advisory sources.  And I think Mrs. Dude may have fibbed about his sleeping locale at the last appointment.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Well, no worries.  The dirty secret (literally and figuratively) has been cleansed from our lives.  Little Dude is officially a crib sleeper.

And the best part is he loves it!

We thought it was Little Dude that needed to be in the swing.  We thought we would have countless sleepless nights and a cranky little boy when we made the move.  We intimidated ourselves into believing that we needed to choose the absolute perfect time to make the transition.

And none of that was accurate.  Little Dude took to the change immediately.

What the crib lacks in motion, it more than makes up for in comfy, comfy roominess.  Little Dude loves the space to stretch out.  He’s now taking all naps, and sleeping full nights in the crib.

So, I guess the lesson for week 21 is don’t stress about changes.  Kids will make it work.  There may be a few bumps in the road, but no need to wait for the perfect opportunity to change…there’s no such thing as the perfect opportunity.

Well, that, and before you post a picture of your child’s swing on the internet, make sure it’s clean.

Week 17: Occupational Hazards

Occupational Hazards

Occupational Hazards

“Does he smell?” As she holds his ass in the air.

And the Dude’s first reaction is to lean over for  a sniff!?  “Nope.”

Later the same day, as I dozed off on the couch for an afternoon siesta, Mrs. Dude asked if a sleeping Little Dude could lay with me.  Of course the answer was yes.  As she laid him on my chest, we realized the turd had definitely escaped.

But he’s sleeping.  We knew we were safer if we let him sleep.  So The Boy and his dirty diaper dozed with me for a half hour.

Occupational hazards I guess.

Make no mistake about it, parenting is an occupation.  But an occupation unlike any other.  I’m still new at this game; I’m sure Mr. Huxtable could drop some parenting knowledge on me, but from what I gather, there is a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice.

Can you think of any other job you would volunteer to be on call 24/7 for zero pay (actually pay them to work…I think the average kid costs like a bazillion dollars these days.)?  And sniff butts and nap with a dirty diaper?  I think not.

Some jobs run the risk of carpal tunnel.  Parenting runs the risk of no sleep and stank butts.

On the flip side, the obvious response is that the rewards of watching your kids grow up are priceless.  No argument there.

But the effort involved is somewhat priceless too.  It’s tough to find the same dedication a parent is willing offer.

Week 17 brought on a battle with the Hands, Foot, and Mouth virus.  7+ days of cranking.

Since Little Dude is already fighting through reflux, we didn’t realize the cranking could be HFM until some hives arrived.  We confirmed it at the doctor the next day.

Reflux and HFM lead to a worn out Little Guy.  He handled it all pretty well, but the true champion is Mrs. Dude.  A worn out kid leads to a worn out parent…someone needs to pick up the slack.

Parenting in general is an occupation full of hazards, but an at-home mom is like pulling double-shifts every day…for years.  No time off, no personal space, 100% attention on someone else’s well-being.

Thanks for all of the hard work Mrs. Dude.  You’re an amazing Mom.

Week 15 – Time for a Trim

Little Dude's 1st Trim

Little Dude's 1st Trim

Some babies don’t have hair by week 15.  Little Dude, time for the first haircut.

Little Dude popped out with a full head of hair.  Which is a bit startling considering the Dude’s dome is hairless.

I was begging Mrs. Dude on day one to let me shave a legit mohawk.  How outrageous would a one week old with a mohawak be?!  Grandmas would be fainting.  Hilarious.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Dude wasn’t having it. 

But, Mother Nature was on the Dude’s side.  Over the course of the first 15 weeks, Little Dude’s gorgeous coif was slowly reduced to old man hair.

Last night, Mrs. Dude said she was ready for the trim, and the rest is history…

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

It’s 2010.  We have women’s suffrage.  Women have broken through the “glass ceiling” in corporations worldwide.  I read the other day that for the first time, more women are now graduating with PhD’s than men!

Women have made huge strides in equality, but from where I sit, Mom’s still keep the house together.  I think it’s an instinctual ability.

When Dad  steps in on a solo mission, there’s always a chance for a little craziness.  The mission will be accomplished, but it’s never quite as smooth as when Mom handles it.

Tuesday offered a good test.  The Princess had her first dance class, followed by soccer practice numero dos, and Mrs. Dude had her first photography class.  It was a busy day.  Tuesdays will be busy for a few weeks.  If you do the math, this leaves the Dude managing all parental tasks including to and from soccer, dinner, bath, bed…sans Mrs. Dude.

Solo parenting is tough.  There are a lot of challenges managing multiple little lives.

Parenting definitely creates an environment conducive to increased levels of stress.  Opportunities to worry.  Reasons for frustration.

But, it also gives us a catalyst to focus on the moment we’re living in.   Worrying and/or getting  frustrated with kids makes the situation that much more difficult to handle.  Kids sense emotions and energy, and when the energy is off, kids tend to shut down.

It’s an interesting task running a solo mission and trying to balance peace and tranquility with the hurdles along the way.

Ever heard of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?  It grabs my attention every time I see it at a bookstore.  I’ve never read it.  I don’t have a motorcycle.

But, based on assumptions I’m making solely from the title, I think parenting offers similar opportunities to motorcycle maintenance.  Parenting is stressful, but we have a choice between letting stress get to us or going with the flow.

I’m no Zen scholar, but my loose understanding could be summed up with the phrase “going with the flow.”

So, Zen and the Art of Parenting.

I approached this solo mission as most dads would, blindly.  I didn’t give it much thought.  See, dads tend to stumble our way through things.  Like that whole not asking for directions stereotype…it’s a stereotype for a reason.

I planned to leave work a little early, pick up the kids, and hit the road.  Shouldn’t be more to it than that.

Except, he’s hungry and his milk supply is leaving to learn how to snap pictures, so it’s bottle time, it’s getting chilly so he needs to change, might as well change the diaper, make sure the diaper bag has all of the necessities, Princess needs to get dressed, she needs to find her cleats and shin guards…and put them on, she needs a water bottle, and the dogs should probably go out.

Ok.  Not quite as easy as pick up the kids and hit the road.  Thankfully Mommy was there to offer these suggestions prior to me leaving the house with a hungry, underdressed baby, and a soccer player without her gear.

To test my stress levels, these instances always seem to stretch to the last second of available time.  So, we’re rushing out the door.  But there’s really no rushing with a five year old and a 3 month old.  Life just moves at a slower pace.

I realized this as we meandered to the car, and I decided to move slower but more deliberately.  Give myself time to make decisive actions, and ultimately move at the pace kids move.  But more importantly, I was focusing on the task at hand…the present moment.  I was moving slower, but I was more efficient with my actions.

We pile in, and Little Dude starts to wail before we’re out of the driveway.  He’s been doing this in his seat lately.  Not a big fan of being locked down.  But we didn’t have time for consoling.

We hit the road, and I reached behind me trying to soothe him.  Yeah, not the safest idea, but a screaming baby requires a bit of risk taking.

As I pull to a three-way stop in the neighborhood, I let the car to my right and the car across from me go before me.  Both slightly beat me to the intersection.  Once they passed, I made my way through the intersection, and some dude decided he was playing the role of Citizen Patrol and yelled “Nice stop!” at me.

I’m still reaching back trying to soothe a screaming baby.  The windows are down, so he should be able to see this.  This seems like a situation where regardless of a minor traffic infraction, you should probably give the driver the benefit of the doubt.

Plus, I did stop!  I let two people go!  Perhaps I was rolling slightly, but it was a stop.

It seems like these types of situations always happen at the most inopportune time.  A perfect opportunity for me to lose it.  But before any words could pass over my lips, my mind jumped back in and reminded me slow down.  Getting upset isn’t going to make this trip any easier.

In a minute or so I was passed it, but Little Dude was not past his screaming.  I pulled over and was able to calmly tuck some blankets around him, and he was asleep in seconds.  If I had been mad, that stop would not have been that easy.

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Eventually we made it to the parking lot.  As I’m wrestling with the Bjorn, the pacifier bounces out of his blankets and rolls under the car.  At this point I’m relaxing into things, and rather than letting that be the straw that breaks my will, I recruit The Princess, and she crawls under to grab it.

We roll into practice a couple minutes late, but we are all in good spirits, and we didn’t miss much.

Mission accomplished.

Well, except that whole dinner, bath, bed thing.  But the kids were great, and I was practicing my Zen and the Art of Parenting, and we were good to go.  Whatever minor hurdles we encountered along the way we easily surmounted.

And the reward for a job well done, other than the opportunity to practice a little Zen, is a hug and kiss goodnight from a princess and  some Dude/Little Dude bonding time with lots of silly voices, tickles, smiles, and a five second lock of the eyes where it was clear connections were being made.

My boy is starting to realize who his Daddy is.  Glad I was in the Zen frame of mind to enjoy the moment…well, five seconds anyway.

Week 12 – Groovin’

The Boy is three months old this week.

Time flies.

Week 12 has been pretty much status quo.  We’re getting back into the flow after a short vacation and the hurricane, so just settling back into routines.

Groovin’ right along.

This picture elicits an immediate smile from the Dude.

Little Dude

Little Dude

As does this song.

Week 11 – Hopscotch & Hurricanes

Hopscotch & Hurricanes

Hopscotch & Hurricanes

Life is full of decisions.  Infinite decisions with infinite possibilities.  Unique moments that shape our individual lives.

But more importantly, our decisions help shape the lives of those we share our days with.

As the dude of the house, my decisions will help mold the lives of the little ones that, by default, have to deal with me on an everyday basis.  I’ll have plenty of opportunities to embarrass with my decision making, and I’ll have ample opportunity to nudge them in the direction that seems most prudent according to my sensibilities.  Every decision won’t carry the same weight, but each choice offers the opportunity to create.  Create fun.  Create love. Create manors, and caring, and comfort, and trust.  Or our decisions can create the negative yin to this positive yang.

Mistakes are inevitable, but the Dude’s goal is to make every attempt possible to create some positive yang for the brood to embrace.

When was the last time you played hopscotch?  Are there rules?  Or is it like Monopoly where every family has house rules?

The Dude and The Princess decided to enjoy an afternoon of hopscotching.

I think the Princess saw it at school.  I’m a sucker for games that require hopping on one foot, so when she asked, I was all in.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually played hopscotch according to a set of rules, so I decided to take a quick spin through Google.  After consulting the most accurate online source of information, obviously Wikipedia, I was saddled with some rules and headed outside with The Princess toting a collection of rainbow colored chalk.

With a loose grip on childhood memories and the aid of the fat orange chalk, the Dude was able to reconstruct the layout of a hopscotch board on the driveway.  Numbered one through 6, with one spot for a double jump and a free landing zone at the top, we got down to business.

I began to recite the rules, and The Princess commenced the hopping as the first words passed over my lips.  I stumbled through the set of rules, as The Princess lurched on one foot from one number to the next, landed a perfect double jump, spun like a ballerina in the free zone, wobbled and regained her balance bending to pick up the marker, and finished out of breath at my feet.

My old man brain was having a difficult time recalling the rules I consumed two minutes prior. It’s safe to say that five year old squash wasn’t executing a flawless hopscotch routine and taking in the rules at the same time.

Ah ha, an opportunity for fatherly decision making.  What to do now?  Should the Dude stick to the rules and slow the hopscotching to make sure The Princess understands the regulations?  I guess there’s some merit to this decision; there’s something to be said for following directions, especially when making the attempt to create a competitive environment.  And The Princess is reaching the age of competition; Tai Kwan Do just ended, and soccer and dance will begin in the next couple weeks.  Rules and directions will be important.

But how important are rules?  Aren’t they meant to be broken?  Don’t we all bend them to some degree?  Should a five year old’s creativity and enjoyment be hampered by an arbitrary set of rules?

My guess is you know the decision that was made.

We followed the rules The Princess created on the fly and worked up a sweat hopping on one foot, while laughing and ignoring the guidelines bestowed by the all-knowing Wikipedia.

And for all you hopscotch novices, like the Dude, it’s more tiring than you expect.  If I’m sore in the morning from our new activity, I will be severely disappointed with this aging process.

Luckily, The Princess’ span of attention is about as short as the Dude’s endurance, and we turned from hopping to drawing hearts and flowers pretty quickly.

A minor decision with limited impact on the future.  Then again, who knows.  If one decision leads to another, and the Dude is able to balance on the thin line between complying with and ignoring the rules, perhaps the young ones can be groomed to think for themselves, within reason.  But there are a lot of “if’s” in life.

On the other hand, some decisions are loaded with significance from the get go.

The Dude Family Vacation was cut short this week due to the threat of Mama Nature’s vengence.  Hurricane Earl was groovin’ up the East Coast, and we were in its path.  At its peak, it was a Category 4 storm with winds up to 145 mph.

This would have been a relatively exciting event for bachelor Dude, but family Dude had to look at this from a completely new set of decisions.  Rather than determining how much beer to get to witness Mother Nature’s wrath, the Dude and the Mrs. had to consider escape routes and whether to outrun the storm.  With kids involved, especially an 11 week old, how much danger can we expose them to?

Sure, hurricanes are unpredictable, and it could be a non-event, but hurricanes are unpredictable, so the flip side is that it could be a significant event.

Seems like a no-brainer.  145 mph winds = kids need to hit the road.  But every decision is fraught with multiple angles to consider.

  • The predicted path of the hurricane does not have it on a direct collision course.  How fast will the winds actually be?
  • Will the hurricane slow on its own?  Move out to sea?
  • Does the Captain go down with the ship?  Shouldn’t someone be here to look after the house and our limited belongings?
  • The Dude’s employment is somewhat hinged on providing support during a natural event.
  • It’s never a good time to be displaced, especially if the entire family isn’t together.
  • How long could the displacement last?
  • What risks need to be considered?

The Dude and the Mrs. hemmed and hawed until the last minute, but in the end, Mrs. Dude and the kiddos hit the road to stay with a cousin, and the Dude and the dogs held down the fort.

Hurricane Earl began to slow and stayed out to sea, so it was a relatively uneventful storm, but at just 80 miles off the coast, it was a nail-biter up to the end.  While relatively low, the winds and rain were still pretty intense, confirming the assumption that 145 mph would be outright destruction.

Never fun to be apart, but we made the right choice.  When Mrs. Dude’s motherly instincts speak up, it’s imperative for us to listen, even when it’s a tough decision.

I have faith that the Dude and the Mrs. can handle almost anything the world throws our way.  And statistically, they were probably in more danger driving in a car than facing the hurricane.  But it’s our job create with our decisions, and given the choice to create safety and comfort or the possibility of fear and mayhem, the choice seems obvious.  We need to craft environments of safety that build trust.

At some age, a hurricane experience is probably worthwhile.  (I think I was eight when my parents hunkered the family down in the house to ride out a Category 2 storm.) However, at this point in time, our kids need to enjoy the safety Mom and Dad can provide, not Mother Nature’s yin.

So, I guess the lesson from week 11 is choose wisely.  What do we want to create with our decisions?

Week Nine – Chaos

Big Eyes

Big Eyes

Six kids.  One roof.

8 weeks, 11 weeks, 2, 4, 5, and 6 years.

There is no way to describe week nine other than chaos.  Pure, unadulterated chaos.

We had the pleasure of my sister and the kids visiting from Sunday to Thursday, and included in their luggage is a guaranteed bag o’ chaos.

As a primo example, towards the close of the first full day of the ruckus, both infants had wails and tears pouring out of them while one brother bit the other, eliciting more screams and tears, and the two year old princess proceeded to pee directly on the bathroom floor (Why?  “Because I like to pee on the floor.”  How do you argue with that logic?).  At the same time.  A complete overload.

To offer one more example, my sister felt it would be a good idea to leave Little Dude and my newest nephew alone with the Dude while the rest of the gaggle went around the corner to play.  “Both are sleeping.  Nothing to worry about.”

Really?  How long do you think that slumber will last once all scent of mommy vacates the building?  Right, long enough for them to be out of screaming distance.

The Intimidator

The Intimidator

I wrestled with two screaming infants for 25 minutes, and I use the term “infant” very loosely.  I can handle Little Dude, and he does resemble an infant.  However, The Intimidator, he is a completely different story.

These infants are nineteen days apart, but on the growth chart they are 75 percentage points apart, 25% to 95%!  Can an infant intimidate a grown man?

Simple answer, yes.  I consider myself a strapping young man (sounds like something my grandmother would say), but this kid had my number for 25 minutes.

It was like wrestling a toddler.  I love the swaddle.  I swaddle Little Dude and put him out in minutes.  The Intimidator kicked out of my tightly constructed swaddle before I could pick him up.  And before he commenced his true scream, I think he laughed at me…in my face.  Then he proceeded to scream with the low radio voice of Cassey Cassum.  I swear this 11 week old baby had a deeper voice than me.

In between my prayers and walking from one end of the house to the other, Little Dude would chime in with his own scream fest.  They fed off each other for 25 minutes.

Right. Chaos.

Chaos tends to have a negative connotation, and these tales seem to lend credence to that negative perspective, but chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Chaos theory is an intriguing school of thought that weaves an intricate mosaic of mathematics, physics, economics and philosophy to develop a theory of behavior for dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to seemingly insignificant conditions  I.E. the “butterfly effect,” where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Africa is theorized to make a considerable impact in the development of weather conditions across the globe.

This understanding of chaos can hardly be considered negative.  It draws a  complicated network of connections from the irrelevant to the significant.  It brings an intense focus to average events.  It forces us to live in the “now,” and pay attention to the variety of stimulus and activity occurring around us at all times.  The majority of spiritual practices seem to point towards this same focus.  Hardly negative.

Otherwise, if we neglect to appreciate the mundane, minor actions will have much larger, potentially detrimental, effects.

That’s right, I just tied mathematics, physics, economics, philosophy, spirituality, and parenting together under a single theory.  That adds a lot more importance to week nine.

But, it makes sense.  With six kids running around, every action becomes important.  Every decision plays a role in how the next decision will play out.

Technically, this is true for every decision we ever make, but life with six kids is far less forgiving than “normal life.”  Every decision needs to be executed to perfection or you’ll pay the price, which is usually a crying, diaper filled baby that can’t be calmed or an explosion of glitter that covers the floor like Times Square on January 1.  Either one not the end of the world, but definite speed bumps that lead to increased chaos with six rug rats running the show.

“Living in the now,” and “going with the flow” become necessary requirements.  As The Dude wisely bestowed in The Big Lebowski, the Dude abides.

Abiding is the only way to survive in chaos.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

The population at Casa de Dude consisted of six kids, the Dude and the Mrs., my sister, and her au pair.  My brother-in-law stayed home to work (Wink, wink.  You’re welcome for the vacation), so the Dude was the sole hombre of the casa.

This is a tough line to walk.  Dude of the house, fun uncle, and peaceful warrior abiding every minor step of the way.  Is it possible to maintain such a focus?…without an elevated level of stress?

Mrs. Dude thinks I’m a different person when the chaos ensues.  She’s probably right.  Maintaining an increased level of alertness requires a different frame of mind.  But with practice, stress dissipates and relaxation grows.

I tend to handle the chaos of two better than the chaos of six, but the exposure is developing my tolerance.  I watch my sister’s level of calm patience with every minor explosion, and I realize how much she is controlling the chaos.  If she allowed her butterfly wings to flutter aggressively with every tiny issue, the chaos would be pushed down the road of destruction rather than fun very quickly.

This tolerance takes time to develop, but it’s great to feel the calluses of parenting growing on the fabric of the Dude’s daily existence.  This tolerance and attention to detail are great habits to develop.  They will pay dividends as the kids grow…and as we visit with family more and more.

Little Dude embraced this attitude throughout week nine.  He has shown an increased level of peace and tranquility.  He handled six kids without any increased level of stress.

Although, he did get his two month vaccinations on Friday which led to the need for increased comforting for a couple days, but the peace and tranquility seem to be habits that are sticking around.  I guess the Dude has a lot to learn from Little Dude too.

Week Eight – Celebrate Good Times

Short and Sweet.

Little Dude enjoyed his first wedding this weekend.  He slept through most of the celebrating, but he sure did enjoy the music and dancing.

Including the newest family tradition on Mrs. Dude’s side, requesting It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here and proceeding to follow Nelly’s directions to “take off all your clothes.”  Obviously this is the hit of the party…thanks Rex!

Gettin' Hot in HereAlthough, the hit of the night for the Dude was a simple introduction that moved from “Hi, my name is…” to “Sorry I wasn’t at Thanksgiving last year.  I was in jail.”  Classic.  Trying to maintain a straight face, the Dude followed up with “It happens,” and walked off giggling like The Princess.

I need to keep this short because after the wedding we met up with the Dude’s sister’s family, and they joined us back at Casa de Dude for an extended visit.  The Dude’s sister’s family consists of four kids from six years to 11 weeks, and in conjunction with our little ones, this lunacy is now overrunning the house.

It’s been quiet for the past five minutes, so I’ve had a chance to breathe, but the silence scares me.  I need to go look each one in the eyes to make sure they aren’t planning a mutiny.

As for Little Dude’s progress, wow, we truly are celebrating good times.  Week eight has brought on a dramatic adjustment.  He can relax and enjoy himself much more this week, and we are enjoying every second of our time with this smiling happy boy.



Week Seven – Promise

Sweet Chucks

Sweet Chucks

Promise as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary is:

1 : a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified

2 : reason to expect something; especially : ground for expectation of success, improvement, or excellence

Promise is a heavy word.  Full of strong connotations; commitment, trust, dedication, honor,  hope, optimism.  And the Dude can dig it.

Promise holds a strong significance at Casa de Dude.  We don’t live by too many rules.  Sure, rules are created on the fly all the time; “Don’t cover your room with glitter.” Or “Don’t draw hearts on furniture.”  But those don’t feel like real life rules.  They feel more like reminders.  There’s really only one consistent rule around our house, and it centers around a promise.

The essence of a promise is commitment.  The knowledge that all parties making and accepting the promise understand the pledge is not to be broken.  Yes, promises and contracts are broken all the time…disagreements keep lawyers employed.  But within a family, promises hold a special weight.  A level of commitment beyond the average contract.  A trust sealed with unconditional love.

The one rule in our house is:  We never break a promise.

This one rule sets the true “rules” apart from friendly reminders.  And The Princess does an amazing job of differentiating between the two.

Kids are kids, they aren’t going to follow every rule, nor does the Dude’s constant reminder to “question authority” imply they should.  Dirt will be played in just after a bath is taken, the scooter will be crashed into the wall despite pleas to cease and desist, and rooms will be messy even though the clutter makes the Dude’s skin crawl.

But some rules are nonnegotiable; “Do not go in the water without an adult.” Or  “Do not use Little Dude’s head to practice Tae Kwan Do.”  When opportunities arise  to apply a nonnegotiable, a promise is in order.  And to close out an official rule discussion, the Dude generally ends with “And what’s the rule about a promise?” which the Princess promptly replies with “We never break a promise.”  At this point, I know I can walk away without the slightest glance back to ensure the Princess is following the guidance bestowed upon her.  She understands the weight of the promise.  Hopefully we can say the same at 16.

In addition to a solemn oath, promise can imply the “expectation of success, improvement, or excellence.”

The movie Beautiful Girls has a great quote that explains the fundamental nature of promise.  I don’t remember the movie much, but I recall thinking it was pretty good…plus, the dude in the scene is wearing a Celtics jacket, so it’s gotta be decent (and the dude with the quote was in Dazed and Confused, which again lends credence to this movie…somehow).  At any rate, the quote is great…

Fits like a glove.  The quote is a perfect description of the thoughts flowing through the Dude’s head when Mrs. Dude graced his path.  And the premise of the quote fits perfectly with kids.  “Bottled promise.”  Perfect description.

Week seven falls into this category.

It was not a week without challenges, but the bigger picture is bright.  Feelings of contentment and hope rather than seeking answers to the riddle that is an infant.

Little Dude is growing and self-regulating.  Digestion is improving.  Sleep is improving.  Crankiness is improving.  Acid Reflux is improving.  Smiles are multiplying.  Coos are developing.  Life is good.

The weekend was the perfect cap on week seven.

Mrs. Dude started back at work on Saturday.  Two days per week.  This left the Dude with the kiddos and bottles of milk for the first time.

An at-home parent has a lot to juggle.  I was up at 7:30 and didn’t eat breakfast until 11:00.  Lots of balls in the air, but everyone was in a great mood, and the hours sped past.

By the time late afternoon rolled around, Mrs. Dude was home, there were no serious injuries, and the Dude was kickin’ it in the backyard watering the plants and enjoying a great early August evening; light breeze, warm air, problems stripped away by the carelessness of summer.

To culminate an already storybook weekend, Tropical Storm Colin moved up the Atlantic far off shore but close enough to send fun waves just in time for the Dude to make a solitary escape to the beach.


Full of promise.

Life, please promise more…much more, of the same.

What’s the rule about promises?

We never break a promise.

I’m holding you to it.