Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 31

We have been trying to teach Dash to be gentle when petting the dog.

He has now translated this into inanimate objects.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 30

I'm going to let Ann narrate this one for us:

1 dash sees goats eating hay

2 dash then gets hay himself

3 dash then feeds goats hay

Me again: I get that everyone thinks their kid is a genius, but this is really impressive to me. I love seeing and hearing about him make these connections on his own without prompting, and I'm sure he absolutely loved it.

I do doubt, however, that he loved this:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 29

Ann's back in Maine for a few days with Dash. The relaxation for a few days will be nice, but I am jealous that I get to miss Dash apparently interacting with farm animals for the first time in his current hilarious toddler stage.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 28

I probably spent an hour last night on a massive post that I'm just not happy with, so I'll leave you with a picture of Dash's favorite pastime.

Yes, he's simply pointing at a mailbox.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 27

I guess there's a thing where a kid will generally either be an talker or a walker, as it's said. Dash is extremely vocal, but no words yet. Instead, we're getting a lot of motor skill work, and it's really impressive to see him work things out and get moving.

First we had the rolling over craziness, which was just that. He could get 80% of the way there and then just get AMAZINGLY frustrated. Soon, he got there, but didn't care to crawl. Then he just got sick of crawling and chose to walk around everywhere, and this is where we are now. Often running when he can, it's an imbalanced comedy act.

Lately, though, he's taken to some fairly interesting things. One is a tiny rocking chair that he decided he would sit in and rock. Completely unprompted, but hey. Now we have to keep him from standing up on it, but you can't help but be proud. The impressive thing, though, is this slide. He figured out how to climb it pretty quick, and I'd say by the fourth or fifth time, he was doing it himself, complete with sitting properly on the top and sliding down. And then applauding himself for the effort once he hits bottom, of course.

That's been the most interesting part of Dash growing up so far, for me - watching him solve these little problems on his own. I can't help but feel like it's a good sign in spite of it probably being completely normal.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 26

For Memorial Day, it's worth sharing this picture of Dash at 11 weeks meeting his then-92 year old great grandfather who served in World War II. First drafted into the Axis side for Italy, he later served on American U-Boats during the war out of Portland. I'm always glad he got to meet Dash before he passed away last fall.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 25

Milestone alert! Last night was the first time in his life he slept for 10 straight hours seemingly without a peep. He was up around 5ish (which is expected these days) and still curled up with Ann for a couple hours, but this is the third good night in a row and the first full night ever. I hate to think I'm jinxing it, but maybe, just maybe, we've turned a corner.

Yes, Dash, we're as shocked as you are.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 24

I let today get away from me again, so enjoy this picture of Dash enjoying a munchkin from Dunkins. He likes eggs and pancakes to be sure, but he's totally like his parents in that he would exist on doughnuts alone if given the opportunity.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 23

Today got away from me, so admire my child as he does in the mirror.

Every night.

Sometimes while kissing the mirror.

With tongue.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 22

My longtime friend Tiffanie took first birthday photos of Dash for us, it was pretty cool. She's a great photographer as is, and Dash was super cooperative at that.

We also had a fun birthday party for him, which really just acted as an excuse for a lot of us to see people we haven't seen in ages thanks to Mom and the baby, but we did do a smash cake for him.

...well, I should say tried to do a smash cake. Much like his sort-of-cleanliness-obsessed father, he had no interest in his cake until he could have a fork to eat it with.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 21

The weird stuff you do with a 14 month old.

The weird stuff a 14 month old does to mimic you.

14 month olds. They're weird.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 20

Ann was up for hours last night with Dash, in part because he would not fall asleep in his crib without holding her hand.

It's adorable, but it's also terrifying, as this particular sleep regression is slowly killing us all.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 19

One thing they don't warn you about before you have a kid is how horrifying some of the toys are.

Pictured above is an Elmo doll of some sorts. Now, I should preface this by saying that Dash has not seen a minute of Sesame Street. We've basically kept him away from television/videos except for the occasional video on the phone or to distract him while Ann cuts his nails. Meanwhile, we ended up with this sort of Elmo doll that stands on its own feet, tells long stories, whips its head back like some Lovecraftian terror to laugh maniacally, and occasionally dances and squats. It's very interactive, too - if you squeeze its nose, Elmo farts. If it falls over, it asks you to pick him up.

So, so weird. So creepy. The whole experience is really unsettling, and Dash loves every moment of it. We've had to put it somewhere not easily accessible so it doesn't get used constantly. So odd.

There are a lot of toys like that. Dash loves this dog that's programmable that one of our friends got him for his birthday. I'm both impressed by the technology and annoyed that it won't say Dash's name right. There's a faux guitar that he enjoys as well that you can strum over the pickups and it plays (of all things) OK Go's "Here It Goes Again." There's this thing:

(He's gotten very good at this)

There's the singing piggy bank pictured below that is apparently the world's most popular toy:

(Yes, I can confirm the "not plugged in controller trick" works)

I guess I'm just too old and jaded to really understand what's going on with a lot of these toys. He likes blocks and stuff, too, and I know we've just scratched the surface seeing as we've largely inherited a lot of these toys, but still...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 18

According to Ann, this took up about 30 minutes of his time on Friday. Staring and pointing at a merry-go-round.

Of all the things I didn't know small children did, the pointing at things for long periods of time was not one of them. He spent a good five minutes with a new and interesting ceiling fan yesterday with me, too. I get that it's simply communicating with the world, but it's weird.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 17

Possible caption: The day I realized he's my child.

Possible caption: My child is a cat.

Possible caption: Impressive, random mall bathroom toilet paper.

Possible caption: I don't want to touch my child for a week after seeing this.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 16

I usually try to prewrite these before the morning, but I clearly forgot about today, or thought I had. Unfortunately, Dash slept ultra poorly last night and on and on.

Ann sometimes sends me updates about his sleeping. Sometimes they're about how he slept, and sometimes they're pictures of how they're napping together and he has decided to grab her nose for a long period of time.

Kids are weird.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 15

Dash continues to be completely mesmerized by music. In the last few days:

1) He slowly crept up on these guitarists over the course of a morning, entranced by their dulcet acoustic tones, or something.

2) I taught him how to strum a guitar:

(Granted, there's not a ton of difference for a near-14-month-old between "bang on thing" and "brush hands on thing as if I'm banging underneath it")

3) His cousin came over with some friends from school and he got to play with a ukulele.

I fear the monster we're creating.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 14

As a final note about Dash's weekend in Philly, Ann, along with this picture and a story, made me realize (or re-realize, really) that we're totally going to end up being those parents.

Let me explain.

So his is Dash playing in a puddle. He apparently spent a ridiculous amount of time playing in this puddle, and it was a hot weekend and Ann had his water shoes, so why not? The plan was to go to a little sprinkler park or whatever, but it's too early for that to be open, but there are puddles, so why not play in them?

Ann noticed that there were other parents there with their kids, and Dash was pretty much flying solo in the puddle. He's only one, why not, right? The thing is that we're almost always likely to be the types to say "yes" to these types of little adventures. Want to play in the dirt? Okay. Feel like carrying around a comically large flyswatter? Sure. There are limits to be set, yes, but there's a difference between a reasonable limit for the safety and security of a one year old or of something valuable, and there's setting a limit because you don't want to be bothered. We'd like to keep away from the latter as much as possible.

I don't know if it's the first time she's felt that way, though, but being "that parent" is a new kind of pressure, I suppose. With that said, it reminds me of what my mother had to do to, for example, allow me to get books that were "above my grade level" in the school library. It may have been a pain in the rear end for some people, but it's what was best, right? Dash playing in a puddle hurts no one, so in the puddle he'll play.

This will likely be frustrating in a few years. I might have to eat my words. For now, though?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 13

A tiny bit of a final recap for Dash's Philly trip.

Apparently, this is how Dash chooses to stay cool on a surprisingly hot May afternoon.

Dash bonded with a cat. Pigeon left us when he was probably only a few months old, so his exposure to cats has been really minimal. We're not ready to get a cat again, but it sounds like he might be.

Dash bonded with a bus driver. The minute he got to the bus, he was absolutely mesmerized by the whole thing, and the bus driver really liked Dash, too. Ann tells me that everything in Philly, being city-sized, was pretty overwhelming for him in a lot of ways. That's kind of interesting to me.

Dash also bonded with a ceiling fan at IKEA. Because Dash and ceiling fans, man...

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 12

Ann sent me this via email with the subject line "This was satisfying." I just wish we had thought of it sooner.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 11

Last night was legitimately the worst night of sleep I've gotten in recent memory. I even slept better in the three hours that I got the night before Dash was born than I did last night. I was hot and tired and uncomfortable, it was just terrible.

I feel bad complaining about it, though, because, honestly, no amount of bad sleep can even begin to add up to the terrible sleep Ann has gone through over the last year with Dash, and she does so with such minimal complaint that she's really legitimately a superwoman. I don't really know how she does it.

We're not really the holiday types here. We treat ourselves a bit on birthdays, but that's really about it these days. Unless it's a milestone day of some sort, we've kind of moved past that sort of thing over the years. So Ann is in Philadelphia for Mother's Day, which is great, but it also serves as a pretty crazy reminder of how lucky Dash and I are, and how much easier she makes it on us. Putting aside everything she's done for my mother (which should never ever be diminished, ever), the stark reality is that I'm a mediocre father in a lot of aspects. She picks up my slack when I'm stressed out, she covers without complaint when I work less than convenient hours, she's sympathetic when I'm in a depressive jag. It puts more pressure on her when she's already dealing with Dash all day, and it's not unnoticed even if I do a poor job of showing it.

The dirty little secret, though, is that my problem with parenting at present is that I completely and totally lack any sort of instincts. Ann makes it look easy. Ridiculously so. She seems to inherently know what Dash wants and needs, and can just do it. I second guess myself constantly to the point where I feel amazingly victorious if we get to Home Depot and the grocery store over the course of a morning without incident. And the instincts haven't gotten easier, only Dash's ability to communicate what he wants. That makes it easier for me, but it's just a weird feeling for me to feel like I'm just not catching on in some regards. Ann tells me I'm doing fine, which is either an honest statement that I refuse to accept due to my miswired brain or her making me feel better, but either way, I just struggle with a lot of it.

So we're lucky. I know there are some pretty terrible mothers out there, and plenty of mediocre moms as well. Ann is a legitimate rock star. Much like with our marriage, we both fill in the gaps the other can't do, and it means that she's always teaching me about how to be a better parent, and it means Dash benefits so much from it. I'm sure Ann will read this and get mad at me for diminishing what I bring to the table, but I don't doubt for a second that the reason Dash is the personable, amazing little peanut he is stems from how amazing and personable his mother is. I'm a better person today because of her, and Dash is a great kid because of her. And she deserves all the credit in the world for it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 10

These two people are living it up in Philadelphia this weekend. One of Ann's best friends from college lives there, and now Dash has officially visited Philly before I have. Boo!

You don't realize how much quieter a house gets without a baby around after there's been one here non-stop for a year. Kind of spooky. It's both a nice change and really, really sad all balled up into one.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 9

I'm still surprised that the most redeeming experiences in terms of Dash interacting with the world around him comes from the supermarket.

He is hilarious at the supermarket. He's constantly amazed by the barcode scanner. He flirts with every old lady he sees. He is the protector of the milk. He flirts with every young lady he sees. He loves the HVAC in the ceiling. He puts on a show for everyone. He once directed Ann toward a single balloon from halfway across the building.

It's hard to point at just one thing with our supermarket trips, but one thing I didn't expect with a kid is that it might make mundane tasks more fun. I took him to Home Depot with me about a month ago and not only was he the star of the show there, but I brought him over to the ceiling fans (another obsession) and the look on his face may as well have been me taking him to Disney World or something. Just hilarious.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 8

Oh hi there!

The back of our house has a deck attached to it, and now that the winter is finally gone and such, we've been able to clean it up a bit. Dash loves being outside, as does Ann, so any opportunities to be out there is great, but sometimes having to chase him around the yard is a bit much. With some extra money and gifts and such, however, we were able to get Dash one of those big outdoor plastic playhouses.

He loves it. He spent the first few days getting a hang of going in and out of the door, and then there's the doorbell. The doorbell will just be rung over and over and over and over and over until he tires of it, just to go back a few more times and ring it again. I know this is completely, 100% typical and normal, but it is absolutely stunning to see him mesmerized by the thing.

This isn't to say everything is cleaned up back there, though...

Grampy should probably work on getting his old pots out of there...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 7

I guess it's impossible to post on this blog regularly without talking about Mom.

I can't remember the last update on this blog that I made regarding Mom. For a quick recap, she spent a few weeks in the geriatric psych ward of a local hospital in September, and ended up coming back home after that. October through the first few weeks of December were extremely difficult, with visiting nurses coming in twice daily and my mother being less and less cooperative even though she was spending her days at an adult care facility. Finally, in December, after two weeks of her sleeping only from 8pm to around midnight, we opted to ask the group we work with for a respite stay to get ourselves back on track a bit. It turns out that she was so bad for them that they were going to ask us if we'd be okay with a respite, so that worked out.

I don't want to talk too much about the first place she ended up. It wasn't a positive situation for anyone involved - we weren't happy with a lot of what was happening on all ends, and (more importantly) it was far too noisy for Mom to really exist in a calm, peaceful manner. It was really kind of ridiculous for her, and her condition worsened as a result, including a lot more in the way of violent aggression. She made some trips back and forth to the hospital, but we finally got her transferred out to a different facility, and she's doing a lot better there.

From a basic "visiting your not quite 60-year-old mother in an Alzheimer's ward" standpoint, she's really doing the best she has been since maybe October or November. Not terribly angry, but basically not really with it, either. She's pretty much consigned to a wheelchair all the time now, just as much for her safety as it is everyone else's, but if she's at all aware of her surroundings or even if we're there anymore, it's not obvious or even implied. The good news is that her floor is pretty quiet and she has some really attentive people there with her. That helps.

At this point, Ann and I take Dash up to see her once to twice a week. Between work and Dash's bedtime, it's fairly difficult to get up there more often than that, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that you're visiting someone who really doesn't seem to know or care that you're there. You want to visit because it's the right thing to do, but it almost seems futile. Thus, we bring Dash. Why? Mom, for whatever reason, still likes seeing the baby from time to time. A few weeks ago, she even popped out an "It's Nanny!" line outside of her typical incoherent babbling. We were pretty shocked by it, but since Dash seems to make it a little better from time to time (and allows everyone a little break), he comes along.

Dash will take our hand and do laps around the center, too, charming nurses and patients alike. You obviously can't let him out of your hands with these types of patients, but it's also an open, round space that allows for some safe exploring. The nurses love him because he's a little guy with a big personality, and a lot of the patients love him because who doesn't love a baby? One woman constantly tells us that she's going to call him "pumpkin," another is reminded of all her children. It's kind of nice - I feel like Dash is making a difference in these people's lives in some way.

As for Mom, without too much speculation we know that this is probably going to be her final stop. What that means for actual timetables, it's hard to say. She's already on the far end of things in terms of survival rate. She's not outwardly suffering, but...

Overall, though, it's just weird to see this ball of joy and life and learning in Dash contrasted with a woman who is a shell of what she used to be. All the old concerns and complaints about losing out on a mother figure to bounce everything off of still applies, and as Dash becomes more aware, it becomes more of a thought about what to shield him from, what he gets out of this, and so on. It's all so strange.

Bu we keep persevering. We have to.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 6

Longtime readers know the sleep problems we've had with Dash over the last year. The post then really just encapsulated the early issues, I never really got around to explaining how bad things got as we headed into the winter. Needless to say, even with a transition to the crib, having a four hour stretch where he didn't wake up was a victory for us, never mind any other options. The typical was every couple hours, maybe every 45 minutes.

This is, really, entirely our fault. Basically everyone told us to do the "cry it out" method, with others the modified Ferber method. For us, we just saw it as overly cruel. Yes, the science is basically in that you wouldn't do lasting harm, but who would want to let a child cry for the sake of crying while it's asleep in the crib? It's a baby! It doesn't get it! The baby wakes up, is completely confused by the surroundings that weren't there when it fell asleep, and reacts. We weren't on board.

The tide shifted significantly for us shortly after one of my business trips in January. Dash went about a week waking up every 45 minutes on the spot. Ann would be on night duty, so it was pretty much her trying to get the baby to sleep and me trying to get sleep so I can be some sort of useful during the work day. It was getting worse and worse to the point where he had a night where he had a number of 20 minute sleep rotations. At that point, we couldn't blame it on sleep regression anymore. Ann grabbed the Ferber book from the library, made a plan, and we dove in.

That night, he cried for 10 minutes and then slept eight hours.

I'm not going to pretend that the entire issue is solved. He still has a wakeup or two a night, he still needs to have his night feeding weaned, and he's a terrible napper even now, but instead of fighting with the baby from 8pm onward, having him interrupt meals and shows and company, he goes to bed at 6:30 after a pretty standard routine involving toys and puppets and songs, and he's basically sleeping. The molars that he's cutting have made the last couple weeks difficult, but we're miles ahead of where we were four months ago.

If anyone asked me now, I'd absolutely tell them to do the Ferber thing when appropriate. If not for the baby's ability to sleep, but just for basic parental sanity. The crying, for us at least, stopped so quickly that we continue to kick ourselves that we didn't just go along with it sooner.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 5

Dashypants is on the go!

Ann was able to get a child membership to the local YMCA. She doesn't get access to much, but he gets to go swimming, do playgroup and toddler gym, etc. It's a fun place that he does a lot of exploring in, he's the star of the show watching people in spin class, and so on. At the very least, it gets him out of the house, but he gets to do so much more. It's great, and Ann always comes home with great stories.

He also enjoys going to the mall, which is hilarious given how completely irrelevant malls are becoming. While it does have a play area available, the fact that it's a wide open space for him to walk around and people watch and get confused by mannequins is a lot of fun for him. Maybe he'll be worn out of it by the time he's a teenager.

By far his favorite place to go is the park, though. Kid loves being outdoors (which has made the cold, nasty weather that much more frustrating over the last month), and whether it's the sandbox (which blew his mind) or the geese (that blew his mind) or the dinosaur ride (which was just okay), or just watching people and eating a snack, he's getting out and about.

I don't know why I'm cuted out by this. It might be, in part, that I was worried that he'd be stuck at home a lot with Mom around and such, and with Mom in a nursing home now, he gets out a lot more. It's also fun because it means a lot more in the summer we can do as a result. Definitely a plus.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 4

A bit of a photodump today only because Dash spent some time charming a host of my favorite ladies at a baby shower yesterday, and at one point some fairy wings were found by Dash and, well...

Tiffanie really takes the best pictures...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 3

Ann sent this picture to me with the simple line "this is what Dash does while I poop." I guess I'm proud that he can find a way to occupy himself even though the cabinet locks are spreading around the house...

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Dash of Dash a Day for May: May 2

Being in this house, with the literally thousands of books we have, it was assumed/hoped/desired that Dash would be literarily-inclined. I know you can't really force these things, and Ann always feels the need to remind me that the fact that I was reading at a high level before my third birthday is an unlikely expectation for Dash, but I still hope he loves books at least a little bit.

It didn't really start with books, though. It really started with bookmarks:

I have a habit of leaving my books in accessible places when I go to bed, and that means that, far too often, Dash gets to them first. Thankfully, I have a ton of bookmarks, but he is just so fascinated by these little pieces of paper it's kind of hilarious. They must be the perfect size of things for his hands or something.

Thankfully, and recently, he's started showing a lot more interest in actual books to the point of being able to sit down and read. He also has his go-to board books with cute little animals in them and such, and he shows more and more interest by the day.

The funniest thing he's started doing, though? Reading books in his crib after we put him to bed. He's just like Daddy!:

I fully realize that I need to do more to be reading to him above and beyond what he's already getting, but it is pretty good to see that access to a lot of books plus seeing your parents reading equals wanting to do so yourself.