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.

Week Five – Change

What a smile?!“The only constant is change.”

It’s difficult to find the precise source of this quote, but after extensive research (i.e. five minutes on Wikipedia), I’ve decided to give credit to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher…mainly because he’s a really old dude (c.535 BC – 475 BC).

This is about as close to “fact” as you can get; as such it is a widely understood and accepted saying…almost common sense.  Hence the difficulty finding the precise source.

I think the idea of change as a constant may be referred to as entropy in physics, but I’m all researched out now, so I’ll let The Professor (aka Little Bill, Papa, Dude’s Padre) correct me in the comments section if need be.

We all work every day to maintain the great aspects of our life and change those aspects that need some improvements…or at least we should be working hard at this every day.  But, in the  end, change will win; we can only prolong the inevitable.  Nature will take its course and change will prevail.

This should not imply that we should commit any less effort to maintaining what we love; that’s arguably the most important thing we can do in life.  But we should be able to accept change as a fact of life…perhaps even use change to our advantage.

For a short life span of five weeks, change is intensified.  20% of the Dude’s life is 6.6 years.  Change across that period is relatively mild.  The Little Dude on the other hand is in hyper drive; 20% of his life was spent last week.  Change across this period is pretty intense…for child and parents.

We ended week four with what appeared to be a mysterious choking episode for Little Dude.  I could have noted this in last week’s Lessons, but I really didn’t know what to make of it so I left it out.

The plot thickened in week five, and with some added information, the “choking” is now seen in a clearer light.

Last Saturday, Little Dude was sleeping in his swing (five feet from us) while the Dude and Mrs. Dude half watched tv and half watched The Boy.  About 45 minutes into his slumber, he woke up with a loud screech and then went silent immediately.  Mrs. Dude noticed that the air flow seemed to stop and jumped up to scoop him out of the swing.  The Dude, being a Dude, was a bit more slow to react, but the level of distress was clear in Mrs. Dude’s face (her Mommy Senses kicked in quickly!), and she was a bit frozen with Little Dude in her hands, so I grabbed him, flipped him over and began to pat his back.  With a whimper, the breathing was back in probably 30 seconds, but it was an intense 30 seconds, and there was no breath and no noise during that time…an eerie silence.

There was no way he choked on anything.  Nothing in his swing with him, he was in there for 45 minutes, and we were watching the entire time.

It shook us a bit.  We contemplated a visit to the Emergency Room, but Little Dude was immediately back to normal and enjoying his swing; so the Dude, being a Dude, convinced the Mrs. to skip the trip.   But in return, I stayed up and watched Little Dude the entire night to make sure everything was status quo.

I enjoyed some late night yoga to stay awake, and Little Dude slept like, well, a baby.  We switched shifts at the 6:30 AM feeding and kept him on watch the rest of the day.  After the 24 hour surveillance, we felt pretty confident Little Dude was ok.  However, we were still pretty confused by the experience.

Mrs. Dude conducted some further research (luckily her research is a bit more extensive than the Dude’s) down a path mentioned by the Pediatrician, and we are now adding a new variable to our “Poop Rules My Life” theory.  It seems to us that poop and heartburn rule Little Dude’s life.

The Mrs. found this link about an infant “choking” due to acid reflux and this list of acid reflux symptoms.  Not only does the article describe the “choking” episode almost word for word, but the additional symptoms are pretty spot on with The Little One.

Unfortunately, the acid reflux seems to be gaining momentum in week five and the past few days have seen an increase in spit up and some crankiness reminiscent of earlier weeks.  We’ve been using some meds the Dr. gave us “just in case,” but they don’t seem strong enough or The Boy has already outgrown the dose prescribed.  So, back to the Dr. tomorrow.

I’m not sure if we’ve figured out how to use this intense period of change to our advantage just yet, but we are doing our best to accept it and move on to the next curve life throws our way.

Luckily, the Dude and the Little Dude have found a calming mechanism they can both agree on; the vacuum.  My guess is a burned out vacuum could be in our future, but if The Little One is happy, that’s a change I’m willing to accept.

Baby's Best Friend

Baby's Best Friend

PS – Here’s one of my favorite songs about change.  The video is on the strange side, but the song is pretty good…plus, the Dude is a sucker for some good harmonica.

Lessons from the Front Lines – Week Two

Little Dude's Little Feet

Little Dude's Little Feet

1. Crankiness does not take away from cuteness, but it sure does lead to long nights and tired days.  Little Dude has been a bit cranky this week; unable to stay comfortable for much longer than an hour stretch.  This crankiness leads to some long nights and tired days making the development of a routine pretty unlikely at this point.  It seems that the still developing intestines are the source of the Little Dude’s gaseousness and resulting crankiness…that’s our theory anyway.  Which leads me to point number two.

2. There are over-the-counter gas relief medicines specifically designed for infants.  Awesome!  We’re not a huge “medicine family,” but considering The Boy’s discomfort and our sleepless nights, we’re cool with making some exceptions.  When we heard this from a trusted source, Mrs. Dude made a straight-line to the nearest pharmacy and stocked up.  To our amazement, it worked…very well.  Little Dude started to show signs of his true calm and relaxed nature within an hour.  Our nights are still relatively sleepless, but at the least The Boy is more comfortable.

3. In the week one ruminations, the Dude couldn’t commit to the absolute necessity of a baby swing, but with an additional week of experience comes an additional commitment to the baby swing.  It’s a must.  No two ways about it.  A must.  This is a big step for the Dude considering that during pregnancy I questioned why we needed this large contraption cluttering our house, and after week one I liked it, but wasn’t sure of the necessity, and by week two the Dude has asked the Mrs. if we should have two, one for the bedroom and one for the living room!  Little Dude trumps all other priorities; so decluttering and saving money are pushed aside as soon as it’s clear that one of The Boys happiest spots is gliding back and forth in the swing.  If it brings Little Dude happiness, the Dude is all for it.

4. Adjusting back to work after a bambino enters your life is not easy.  The job is the same, and getting back in the groove is the same as returning from any other vacation, but the mind is on the family and the time being missed while locked inside the confines of another work week.  There’s got to be a better way.  Is this work-our-lives-away American Dream the best we can offer as a society?  Are our priorities properly aligned?  Shouldn’t our amazing technological advancements be pushing us towards a “Leisure Society” where family and quality of life trump hours in an office and the accumulation of money?  The economy sure does seem to be going through some growing pains these days; perhaps a shift of priorities is on the horizon…let’s hope.

Happy week two birthday Little Dude.

Lessons From the Front Lines – Week One

PeaceAfter a day and a half at the hospital (one overnight), the Dude, the Mrs., and Little Dude joined the Princess back at Casa de Dude, and we’ve all fumbled our way triumphantly through the Little Dude’s first week on Earth.  Happy one week b-day Little Dude.

Looking back on the blur of the first seven days, some lessons are evident.

1. Mom’s are tough as nails…except when they cry…then they need lots of hugs.  Birth is a doozey, and that’s just the beginning.  At one point the Mrs. compared the early pains of breastfeeding to “monkey’s beating on my chest”…not sure if she’s actually had this experience, but point is well taken…mommying is painful.  Added to the physical pain are sleepless nights, complete loss of personal space, and mental somersaults that accompany a constant pull in every direction at once.

2.  Dads aren’t too shabby either.  True, Dads don’t endure the physical pain, but the mental somersaults are just as much a part of their life trying to balance the increasing priorities within a decreasing scope of time.  Sleepless nights are sleepless nights to Mommies and Daddies; someone needs to burp and change the boy after Mom feeds him, and the Princess and pooches still need breakfast come morning.  I have no idea how a single parent functions.

3.  The rest of the tribe is almost as important as Mom and Dad.  As the saying goes, “It takes a village…”  Babies change everything in an instant, and other members of the “parent club” recognize the magnitude of this transition and actively offer support without a request.  It seems like it’s just understood that it’s needed.  No one has offered to setup a trust fund for him yet, but gestures as simple as dropping off dinner help a day flow smoothly.

This voluntary assistance also extends to the Princess who has happily taken on the role of big sister without a fuss.

4.  Nature is amazing!  This boy is incredible, growing and changing on a daily basis, and to think a short seven days ago he was housed inside of another human being.  Millions of minute interactions occurring at precise moments to bring the tiny lad into our lives.  Thanks Mama Nature.

5.  The Moby rocks.  It allows you to wrap the baby around you using a simple cloth as I imagine our ancestors have done for quite a while.  Allowing for hands-free mobility, and letting the Dude and Little Dude cruise around the yard watering the gardens and taking in the scenery.

6.  A battery operated swing and bouncy chair come in very handy.  I’m not sure I would say a must, but pretty darn close to a must.

7.  All hail the swaddle!  I’ll spare you the detailed descriptions of this relatively boring topic, but if you know anyone with an infant, or expecting, I highly recommend “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Karp.  Here’s a video that shows some of the techniques in action.