Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Baby Show: Parent Paranoia

Players: Brad, Gus, Ruby
Location: McDonalds Play Place

Brad purchases the smallest, cheapest cup of coffee in order to be ‘legit’ and then ushers Ruby into the PlayPlace area.
Brad: “Okay, sweetuh, take off your shoes and go play.”
Ruby does so. Brad willfully ignores the sign that says that all children must wear socks-he has brought socks for neither of his children.
Gus, in the Backpack, slaps Brad soundly about the back of head and neck: {MALE PARENT, release me and allow me to go forth and conquer!}
Brad, who has a neck sunburn, winces: “HEY, ouchie. We need to cut your nails.”
Brad pulls the backpack off and unstraps Gus. Brad also takes Gus’s shoes off and hopes no one notices.
For several minutes, Ruby runs all around the structure, calling every so often to have Brad look at her and give her some sort of toddler encouragement.  Gus climbs up the first few levels before he reaches an area he can’t scale.
Gus: {MAN GUARDIAN, come and hoist me up this height, that I may continue to the summit.}
Brad: “I’m not allowed on the play set, Gusser.”
Gus: {Pish Tosh, when seeking grand adventure, rules are made to be broken. Now come, be a Tenzing Norgay to my Edmund Hillary.}
Brad: “Did you seriously just compare a McDonalds PlayPlace to Everest? I’m not coming up.”
Gus: {I’ll make sure that the National Sherpa’s Alliance hears of this and revokes your membership.} He begins clambering down.
Brad: “You do that.”
Meanwhile, Ruby goes down the slide and bumps into the same little girl for the 3rd or 4th time. They both laugh, so Brad thinks nothing of it.
However, on the other side of the room, a largish man stands and walks over. He has a minute or so conversation with the little girl in an Eastern European dialect. Rationally, Brad is sure that it has little to nothing to do with him or the kids, but irrationally he assumes the conversation is as follows –
Eastern European Father (EEF): “You should not let that little blond girl bump into you. She is obviously poorly raised, as her father cannot even afford socks.”
Eastern European Daughter (EED): “But daddy, I took pity upon her because, while she and I both have the blond hair, her father could not be bothered to comb hers. She is neglected and unloved, and therefore deserves every kindness from us.”
EEF: “I am proud of your kindness and generosity, but as your father and protector I must remove you from this place before this girl whose father has yet to clean her face today gives you some sort of disease from her dirtiness. Come along.”
EED: “As I have been raised correctly, I shall lovingly obey and come at your request, unlike these two wild children who have never been taught respect for their elders.”
The father and daughter leave and paranoid Brad drinks his coffee till they are out of the building, then immediately grabs a wet wipe and cleans Ruby’s face.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Child Cheat Codes: Shopping for new glasses

Often, I find that the most helpful time savers don’t really have anything to do with the kids directly. They are things that save me time on my personal errands so that I have more time to spend doing the kid things.
With that in mind, may I present Warby Parker. Warby Parker sells glasses, both online and in retail stores. I went to their site and set up an account. I then started browsing both their normal glasses and their sunglasses. The prices range from $95 to $150, depending on in which glasses you are interesting, but $95 is fair more common for normal glasses.
Also, you can load a picture of yourself into their system and their site will do a mock-up of what you would look like in those glasses. I find that it is really only good to get a slightly more than general idea of how any pair would look on you, but it did help me weed some things out.
My issue with purchasing things online, especially clothes and accessories, was that you are never sure how it is actually going to fit or look until you get it. Then, if it doesn’t fit, you have to hassle with a return. Warby Parker helps with that. First, you can look up a retail establishment near you that carries the glasses in which you are interested and go to try them on. That’s nice. This is nicer: Warby Parker will send you up to 5 pairs of glasses for you to try on, in your home, free. You do not pay for shipping either to your house or back to Warby Parker when you are done. You get to try them for 5 days, then you send them back. As soon as you send them back, you can order 5 more pair. It takes about 2-3 days for the package to get to you. They include a return label in the package, so all you have to do is slap it on the box and either schedule a pickup or drop it off at a UPS store.
I hate shopping for glasses, so this has revolutionized my glasses experience.
Now, they do ask you for credit card information for your free try-on’s as a sort of insurance if you keep the glasses too long; however, if you get the glasses back to them in time, there are absolutely no charges on your card.
I do wish that Warby Parker had a little more Men’s selection, but that’s more because I have a gargantuan, mal-shaped cranium that I lug about.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Baby Show: The Great NapTime Adventure: Part 2

Players: Brad, Gus, Ruby; Buhn-Buhn, Monkey Wayne, Ow-Woe, Tigger, Woofie
Location: Gus’s Room, mostly.

---Continued from Part 1---

Gus eyes the furniture surrounding his bed. {Now let's see....}
After Brad’s adjustments to the headboard, the bed seems surrounded on all sides. The foot of the bed and one side are against the wall. The headboard is now become an impenetrable blanket-wall. The only hope of escape lies on the other long-side of the bed.
Gus: {So here is what we have, chaps. As you know, the south-west edge of the bed-plateau is blocked off by the baby-gate contraption. Most of the north-west corner is blocked my dresser-mountain, with the extreme north-west corner consisting of bedpost-spire and rocking chair-cliff. I would welcome any sage words on the predicament.}
Buhn-Buhn: {Listen, brah. I think I can speak for the group when I say that this is a mondo bad idea.}
Tigger: {HOE HOE, I think that adventure is always a good idea.}
Monkey Wayne: {Shut it,  Mr. Trouncy-Pouncey Pants.}
Gus: {I think I have it. Dad-Man has left the top of dresser-mountain bare. I believe I can pull myself up onto the peak, and then lower myself down the other side.}
Monkey Wayne: {Gus, I have to stop you there. I can’t condone that course of action unless you have some sort of climbing equipment, or at least a utility belt.}
Gus: {No time to dally, my hesitant monkey. Fortune favors the foolish!}
Gus comes up to one side of the dresser and grabs a side edge with one hand while reaching as far as he can toward the far edge. He then hoists his milk-belly as far up as it will go, and pushes off the child-safety railing with one foot. As he slides across the top of the dresser, he is able to grab the far edge and pull himself the rest of the way.
Gus: {HUZZAH! I have scaled the slopes of dresser-mountain.}
Ow-Woe: {What’s it like up there, young master?}
Gus: {It’s cold, the wind has a chill in it. Also, I find that I’m easily made short of breath, but the view is fantastic!}
The bedroom door opens violently as Brad comes running from the kitchen.
Buhn-Buhn: {It’s the fuzz. Act natural.}
Brad grabs Gus and deposits him forcibly back in bed. “NO Gus. Do not ever climb up there. It’s dangerous. DO NOT GET ON THE DRESSER.”
Gus: {I’m sorry to say that I have already fallen in love with the exhilaration of scaling the tallest peaks. In all honesty, I cannot assure you that I will not seek that glorious height again.}
Brad: “I appreciate your honesty.”
Brad moves the changing table mat onto the top of the dresser and adjusts it so there is little room for anything else.
Gus: {Well played, sir.}
Brad: “Now go to sleep before I lash you to the bed.”
Gus lies down and rolls over on his front, straight as a board, with his face completely buried in the mattress: (Muffled) {Boo mihn dis mowd, thuh.}
Brad closes the door.
Gus pushes himself up into snake position. {I do love a challenge.}
Gus stands and analyzes dresser-mountain: {Well, that’s out.} He walks up and down the edge of the bed several times.
Woofie: {WOOF!}
Gus: {What’s that, boy?}
Woofie: {WOOF, WUF}
Gus: {Really?} Gus goes down to the foot of the bed. There is a 2-inch gap between the end of the Child Safety Gate and the wall. {Well done, boy}
Gus turns around, drops onto his belly, and backs-up toward the gap. He puts his right chubby toddler foot through the gap and down onto the bed's frame. As he puts weight onto it and stands, the Child Safety Gate gives a little against his baby mass. He lowers his left leg down, but as left foot touches the floor, his right foot slips and his left leg falls through the metal bed frame, trapping him. He tries to free himself for several minutes.
Gus: {Well, gentlemen, I seem to have encountered a bit of a kerfuffle.}
Ow-Woe: {There is little we can do for you at this juncture, young sire. You seem bent on injuring yourself in some way, or at least enraging the leader of your aerie}
Tigger: {Just call out to Christopher Robin again there, chum. He’s always good for a hand and a bit of milk extract.}
Gus sighs, works himself up for good measure: “DAAAADEEEEEEEE, DAADEEE!”
Brad opens the door and turns on the light.
Brad: “Seriously, Goose?” Brad lifts Gus out of the hole and puts him back in bed.
Brad eyes the gap between wall and gate for a moment, sighs, and then rearranges all the furniture in the room.
When Brad has finished, the bed is in the same place, but the rocking chair has moved into the far corner, and the dresser has been pushed away from the large opening for the bed, making for a very easy entrance –and exit—to the bed.
Brad: “There you go. Run yourself ragged.” Brad turns off the light and closes the door.
Gus: {Lads, could this possibly be some clever ruse meant to throw us off our game?}
Ow-Woe: {Perhaps you wore him down.}
Gus needs no more enticement. For the next 30 minutes his runs in circles around the floor of his room, pulls open drawers, dumps all his shoes on the floor, gets his coterie out of the bed and spreads them across the floor, pulls out every book in his room even though it is far too dark to read and he’s illiterate.
Finally, Gus: {Well, chaps, I believe I am a bit tuckered. I believe I’ll just close my eyes for second.} Gus lies down on the floor directly in front of the door, squirms around a bit more, and finally falls asleep.
Brad has been in the kitchen, watching the unfolding of the nap debacle, unable to fully relax or start really accomplishing anything due to Gus’s constant potential need for saving.
When Gus finally falls asleep, Brad exhales: “Thank the Good Lord.”
He starts to stand up, when he hears a door open down the hall. Thinking that somehow Gus has suddenly woken and learned to open doors, he glances at the baby monitor. Gus is still asleep on the floor.
From down the hall, Ruby: “Daddy, I’m awake!”
Brad falls back down into his chair, huffing, and wonders how much gypsies actually pay for small children.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Baby Show: The Great NapTime Adventure, Part 1.

Players: Brad, Gus, Ruby
Location: Gus's Room

The Baby Show has all gone down for a nap, and Brad is thinking of doing something productive in the back yard. He has a video baby monitor with him to check up on Gus and Hope.
Gus has been sleeping in a "big boy" bed for a few weeks. However, it is shoved up against the corner of a wall and furniture is pushed up against the long open side to keep him from getting out. The short open side is mostly blocked by the headboard, and leads to The Chasm - a point of no return.

Gus has been running in circles on his bed for 15 minutes, not showing the least bit of tired. He has fallen down twice, smacking his head directly into the wall both times - with seeming little effect. Monkey Wayne, Tigger, Ow-Woe, Woofie, and Buhn-Buhn are all in bed with him as he runs haphazard over them.

Gus: {HUZZAH! Come lads, join me in my revelry! The lights are out and we have free reign over this bouncy kingdom.}
Woofie: {WOOF!}
Ow-Woe: {Remember, young master, that we are but fabric and stuffing. We have no ability at motion without your assistance.}
Gus: {Quite right, O wise Ow-Woe.} Grabs Buhn-Buhn {Are you ready for ADVENTURE fuzzy friend?}
Buhn-Buhn: {Dude, you are really harshing my mellow.}
Gus: {Once more into the breach, Lazy Bunny!}
Gus throws Buhn-Buhn into the Chasm.
Gus looks over the headboard: {How fair you?}
Buhn-Buhn: {It is heinously dark down here.}
Gus: {Fear not, I shall retrieve you!} "DADDUH!...DADDUH!......DADDUH!.........dadduh?"
Gus: {Help is not forthcoming, I shall retrieve you myself.}
Monkay Wayne: {I don't think that's a good idea, Gus. There is no guarantee that you will be able to get back up yourself.}
Ow-Woe: {I must concur.}
Gus: {Pushah, There is nothing to fear except fear itself...and perhaps large, stuffed, fish.}
Gus squeezes himself between the headboard and the mattress, having to turn his head side-wise in order to fit, but he does make it into The Chasm.
Gus: {Victory is mine! I shall take a moment to reveal in my triumph and look around.} He spies a plug sticking out of a socket. {I wonder what this does.} Gus pulls the plug out of the wall.
Brad, who has been watching the whole thing on the baby monitor, is now forced to get up, as Gus has just unplugged the camera.
Brad opens Gus's door and walks over to the head of the bed and leans over the rocking chair that's been shoved there to keep Gus in bed. "Whatcha doin, Guster?"
Gus: {Exploring!}
Brad: "That's great, but you should be sleeping." Brad pulls Gus and Buhn-Buhn out of The Chasm and plugs the camera back in. "Now lie down and go to sleep."
Gus lies down: {Of course, so sorry}.
Brad leaves. Before the door is even fully closed Gus is up and moving toward the headboard.
Monkey Wayne: {Gus, don't go back down there.}
Buhn-Buhn: {Yeah, man. It's really a drag.}
Gus slows for a moment: {Perhaps you are right.}
Tigger: {HO HO, don't worry about it, Gusaroo! You'll be able to bounce straight out. What's a day without a little FUN!}
Gus smiles and wedges himself back through the hole in the headboard, but this time something goes wrong.
Gus, with his body through the gap but his head stuck in the headboard: {LADS, SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE AMISS!}
Buhn-Buhn: {Told you, dude.}
Gus: {Tigger! Help me!}
Tigger: {Don't worry, Christopher Robin will be along to help.}
Brad comes running in a second later, turning on the light. He quickly extricates Gus from his predicament and deposits him back in bed. 'See, goofball? Stay in bed."
Brad goes over to the closet and pulls out a blanket. He climbs over the headboard and drops into The Chasm. After several minutes, he has managed to wrap the blanket in such a way that is blocks off Gus's entrance to The Chasm.
Brad: "Okay, now stop goofing around and go to bed."
Gus, standing on the mattress: {Too Right, Good show. I'll do that right away.}
Brad waits a moment. They stand staring at each other.
Brad: "Gus, LIE DOWN."
Gus: {OH, right.} Lies down, but continues staring at Brad.
Brad: "Close your eyes."
Gus: {Excellent suggestion} Gus puts his toddler paws over his eyes. {There, all set. Good night.}
Brad sighs and leaves.
Gus waits a beat, then quickly rises and surveys the blanket covering his former escape.
Gus: {Well, that is no longer an option. How else do you think we can get out of here, friends?}
Monkey Wayne, Ow-Woe, and Buhn-Buhn: {GO TO SLEEP!}
Woofie: {WOOF}
Gus: {But SIRS, it has only just started to get interesting}
Gus eyes the furniture surrounding his bed. {Now let's see....}

--To be Continued--

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

THE THROWDOWN: Ruby Vs. Daily Activities

ROUND 1: Going Pee Pee
Ruby can now use the restroom "all by herself," which means that she yells at people for privacy, doesn't need a toddler seat anymore, uses way too much toilet paper - clogging up the toilet about 15% of the time, needing to be reminded to wipe all the appropriate areas and then FLUSH, needs to be remind not to sit on the toilet reading books forever, and then ends each endeavor with her bathroom catchphrase: "I went pee-pee all by myself," which is often yelled at the top of her lungs in crowded eating establishments.
WINNER: Ruby. Her bathroom habits might be annoying, but anything is better than changing diapers.

ROUND 2: Putting on Clothes
Ruby has a mini-meltdown at each level of clothes. She can't remember how to put on pants, or socks, or shoes, even though she has done these things dozens of times. She only remembers how to put on underwear, the only clothing she actually likes, resulting in her being clothed in little else most of the time. All other clothing items require constant reassurance and encouragement in order to get her to remember that she just did this yesterday!
WINNER: Clothes. It would be less frustrating and unimaginably quicker to just dress her myself. However, she just did figure out how to put on shirts, so there may be hope yet.

ROUND 3: Eating
If it is green, it better be round or look like a tree. If it is red, it better be a fruit. Otherwise, she won't eat it.
Also, she needs to eat in a deprivation chamber, otherwise you will be sitting at the kitchen table for an eon-moment waiting for her to even get just the next spoonful of food into her mouth - and this is food she claims to LIKE.
She will spill her drink. Usually twice. and on multiple surfaces simultaneously.
WINNER: Eating. While Ruby now gets more food in her mouth than on the table, she misses out on a significant portion of deliciousness because she shuns food by shape and color. Also, she makes it impossible to keep our kitchen floor clean.

ROUND 4: Carrying on a Conversation
She speaks gibberish fluently. Learning gibberish yourself is of little help, because she will just switch to gobbeldy-gook, in which she is also fluent.
She can understand English, but only speak it in barely coherent, day-long run-on sentences, or when she is actively crying - which makes her completely unintelligible.
She also remembers every bad word or inappropriate phrase you have ever said and is waiting to use them at dinner parties with your pastor.
WINNER: Ruby. When it is important, she can make herself understood. When she's in trouble, suddenly nothing she says makes sense. I'm convinced it is some sort of clever ruse.

ROUND 5:  Walking
The way she slaps her feet on the ground, I'm surprised she has any toes left.
She has a knack for choosing exactly the wrong shoe for the given circumstances: time to go run at the park - obviously that means her plastic, high-heeled, Minnie Mouse light up shoes.
She veers toward obstacles. If there is a irregularity in the ground, or a toy in her way, or some sort of blockade just off the path, she goes directly toward it and deliberately tries to walk over it. She very often trips.
She also trips over nothing, usually while running. If there is an extra heavy air molecule, she will find it and trip, resulting in bruised legs and skinned knees.
WINNER: Walking. She has been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking she knows how to use her legs.

VICTOR: Daily Activities.
She is just too distracted to form any significant threat to her Daily Activities, but she is gaining.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Child Cheat Code: Teach your kid to read.

My wife and I are pretty strict about what sort of media our children can ingest. Our daughter turns into a zombie whenever a computer, phone, or TV is about. Even more concerning is how much she retains from even a single viewing of any media content.

Recently, we vetted the first website to which we were considering letting our 3 year old have regular access. It is a website called It was recommend to us by some friends who had great success with it. They credit it as a major factor involved in their daughter learning to read early and being well ahead of her peers on reading level now.

The free content includes pretty much everything you would need to get you kid reading. It starts off with the Alphabet, including sounds, word association, and even sign language. It then moves into phonics and basic reading.
I was pretty impressed with it. My daughter loves it, I actually have to make her get off of it. Also, in just the week she has been using it, we have already seen a big improvement in her letter-sound recognition.

We ended up paying the $35 yearly fee to get access to their expanded content, which includes colors, songs, math work, and such. Our daughter liked the Alphabet, but also wanted to be able to do other things, and we figured that if she could start learning math as well, $35 was worth it. I'll admit that I like having a  safe, educational website that I can give to her so I can have a moment to make dinner, clean up a little, or just keep my head from exploding.

As I said, I think that the site is great even if you don't buy the expanded content. Be ready to have to set limits on how much your kids can use it per day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The BabyShow: It's inappropriate to give the Look Of Doom to a toddler.

Players: Alex, Alex's Dad, Brad, Ruby
Location: Alex's living room.

Brad is standing in the living room talking to Alex's Dad when Alex comes running in, jumps up on the couch and stands next to his dad. There is a small, hushed exchange, then...

Alex's Dad: "Alex, is there something that you wanted to ask Mr. @Home?"
Alex stands on the couch and looks bashful: "Mr. @Home, I want to mawwy Wuby when I am a gwown-up man."
Brad crossed his arms and thinks for a moment: "What are you offering as dowry, Alex?"
Alex looks confused and glances at his dad.
Alex's Dad: "Well, I have an old pack-n-play we don't need, and I'm sure Alex could throw in his bike. It still has the training wheels on it."
Brad: "This is my only daughter, my eldest. I can't tell her mom I gave her away for a pack-n-play and a bike."
Alex: "I have gwahm cwackuhs!"
Alex's Dad: "That's right, we can throw in 3 boxes of graham crackers."
Brad: "I do love graham crackers."
Alex's Dad: "I also have a sword I can give you. It was an old birthday present, but my wife doesn't like having it in the house."
Brad's eyes light up, but before he can answer, Ruby runs into the room. Brad stops her.
Brad: "Ruby, Alex want's to marry you. What do you think about that?"
Ruby looks Alex over {His dad's a doctor and mom's a teacher, so he could be a smartie; If he takes after his dad, he could be taller than me; he's a middle child, so he should learn how to take orders; and he is a cutie.}
Ruby, who has been running through Alex's house all day like the Tasmanian Devil, is suddenly shy, standing with her head down and her finger in her mouth.
Brad narrows his eyes a little: "Well, Ruby, would you like to marry Alex?"
Ruby, coyly and a little breathy: "Yeah."
All thoughts of dowry fly out of his head and Brad has to remind himself that they are toddlers, which quiets the Over-Protective Mental Firestorm: "Well, Alex...when you get to be a grown-up man, talk it over with Ruby, and maybe you can ask me again."
Alex's Dad: "Is that okay, Alex?"
Alex nods and runs off to play.
Brad does some quick math, sighs, and discretely checks to see when his FOID expires.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

THE THROWDOWN: Gus's Coterie Vs. Ruby's Menagerie

ROUND 1: Hand-Me-Downs
Gus - Jacob Bear
Jacob Bear was made by Gus's Paternal Great-Grandma Ruby for Brad. Jacob once belonged to Gus's sister Ruby, but Ruby paid so little attention to him, that Jacob was moved into the Gus Camp. He holds a grudge.

Ruby - Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter was originally from a pair of twins that were found and purchased by Ruby's mom and Auntie Bekah. Peanut Butter suffers from anxiety from being separated from her sister, Jelly.

WINNER: TIE - Jacob Bear is older and has a richer history, but Gus ignores him only slightly less than Ruby ignored him. Peanut Butter's history isn't as dense and lovely, and far more filled with pain and loss, but at least Ruby occasionally lets Peanut Butter sleep in the bed, albeit shoved all the way in the corner, behind the pillow.

ROUND 2: The Guard Dogs
Gus: "Woofie" Alowishus Puppy
Woofie is on loan from Ruby's Menagerie and currently advises Gus on all things dog-like and lickable. He is supposedly the guard dog of Gus's room, but he mostly sits around near the heat exchange being brown.

Ruby: Scottie Dog
Scottie is on a mission to prove himself. Normally he is overshadowed by Woofie, but since Woofie is on loan to Gus, it's Scottie's time to shine. He is a much better guard dog than Woofie ever was, but is a little overzealous. His habit of waking up the "troops", as he calls the others in Ruby's Menagerie, with a bagpipe version of Taps has resulted in him being forcibly smothered at the bottom of the Menagerie Basket.

WINNER: RUBY - Woofie's allegiance to Gus is in severe question.

ROUND 3: The Cuteness (Bunnies)
Gus: Buhn-Buhn the Floppy Bunny
While not much to look at when he is just lying in a slump, in the hands of Gus he is an unstoppable M1 Garand of cuteness. Unfortunately, he has no other skills, and is a drain on the rest of the coterie. 

Ruby: The Velveteen Rabbit
This guy is trying way too hard. The others want to smack that smile right off his cutesy rabbit face.

WINNER: GUS - Bow before the adorable might of Buhn-Buhn

Round 4: The Brains
Gus: Ow-Woe
The most recent addition to Gus's Coterie, Ow-Woe has already proven invaluable. While his reputation has been damaged by the current hipster owl obsession, he is an essential intellectual asset. He is also invaluable in the quest to discover how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie-pop.

Ruby: Darryl the 3rd 
Darryl the 3rd is one of the most established members of Ruby's Menagerie, but has the misfortune to have been named in the Great Darryl initiative of 2011. Currently, 5 dolls around the house share the name Darryl.  Also, Darryl is just a little creepy, which keeps getting her shoved under the bed.

WINNER: Gus - Ow-Woe is wise and doesn't creep the jeepers out of me.

ROUND 5: The Freak
Gus: Tigger(tm)
Tigger(tm) was the original member of the Coterie and is still much beloved. He advises on energy policy and, surprisingly, education reform. However, he would have already been in contention for "Freak" spot just based on his bouncy, wouncy, trouncy, flouncy tendencies; but this poor guy has a bigger strike against him: he has no lower body. His rib-cage ends in a velvety and satiny flow. It's like he is a tiger top on top of a manta-ray body. He's an abomination of nature.

Ruby: Blankie
A leftover shard of blanket tied into a nebulous doll-shape, Blankie brings pathetic to a new level. She is basically a fleece jellyfish, and no one wants to get cuddly with a jellyfish.

WINNER: Gus. At least Tigger has the arms and head of one of the most beloved Disney(tm) characters. Blankie can't really function as a blanket or a doll. 

ROUND 6: The Explorer
Gus: Monkey Wayne
Monkey Wayne is the soul of adventure. He makes up one of the Beloved Trio (with Tigger(tm) and Buhn-Buhn), and is Gus's body guard and financial advisor.  Also, I found this in Monkey Wayne's closet:

Ruby: Naked Baby
Naked Baby is far and away Ruby's favorite. If Ruby travels with a entourage, Naked Baby is always in attendance, lording it over the other dolls in all her naked glory.

WINNER: Ruby. Monkey Wayne may also be BatMonkey, but he does his adventuring while being able to rely on his skills and gadgets. Naked Baby throws caution to the wind and greets the world wearing nothing but a small smile on her face. 

VICTOR: Gus's Coterie.
While there are impressive specimens in both groups, Gus's Coterie functions far more efficiently as a team. Ruby's Menagerie is scattered and divided, members tossed off at Ruby's toddler whim.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Baby Show: Every Morning with Gus.

Players: Brad, Gus
Location: Gus’s Room
At 6:30am, Gus has been making toddler noises from his room for about 10 min, a signal that he is not going back to sleep. In the baby monitor, he has been crawling and running all over his bed, which has been situated in the room so that he can’t climb out of it – basically it is a twin-sized crib.

Brad comes in and turns on the light: “Good morning, Man-Baby! Time to get up.”
Gus squints his eyes and throws himself away from Brad: “NO NO.” {I’m not ready to get up. I still have some important things to do here.}
Brad: “Well, it’s time to go. Don’t you want breakfast?”
Gus: “Behvest.” {You make an excellent point. Very well.}
However, before Gus comes over to be lifted from bed, he walks over to the far edge of his bed, where the headboard is, and points down: “Menkah.” {Before you go, you must retrieve Monkey Wayne from The Chasm.}
Brad comes over and looks down in the space between the headboard and the wall – about a foot and a half – and spies Monkey Wayne down on the floor: “What is Monkey doing down there?”
Gus points emphatically: {He was on an important exploratory mission, but I lost contact with him shortly after his departure and have been unable to retrieve him.}
Brad: “Fine, I’ll get him.” Brad contorts his body over the headboard and is momentarily upside down while he retrieves Monkey Wayne.
Brad hands Monkey Wayne to Gus. Brad: “What do you say?”
Gus makes the sign language motion for Thank you: {I do appreciate it, kind sir. Monkey Wayne should have some important information on whether we can launch an expedition into that area.}
Brad lifts Gus out and puts him on the changing table and begins changing Gus’s diaper.
Gus: “Bite-Min?” {I do believe that it is traditional that you provide me with a gelatinous multivitamin in the mornings. I would enjoy consuming it at this time.}
Brad retrieves the vitamin: “Look Gus, this one is a race car.”
Gus: “CAW” {I share your enthusiasm for delicious treats shaped like interesting machinery.}
Gus eats it while his diaper is changed. Brad then stands Gus up and puts a tank-top shaped romper-type outfit on him.
Brad looks Gus over: “Will you be lifting weights later at the gymnasium while twirling your handle-bar mustache?”
Gus looks at him quizzically: {I don’t believe I am quite familiar with the phrase.}
Brad: “You look like a 1920’s weight-lifter.”
Gus looks down at himself: {Really? SMASHING}
Brad lifts Gus up and opens the door.
Gus grunts and points: “Mehkah.” Brad picks up monkey from where Gus has dropped him and heads toward the door.
Gus makes a distressed sound: “Tig-guh.” Brad picks Gus’s Tigger-headed lovey from the bed and turns to the door.
Gus bounces his little toddler body and makes a chirping sound: {Stop trying to leave before you have collected my entire coterie.} “Buhn-Buhn.”
Brad picks up Buhn-Buhn the Floppy Bunny from the bed. He hands it to Gus, who is now holding all three dolls simultaneously in his chubby toddler arms.
Brad: “Really, you need all three?”
Gus bounces, almost dropping Tigger. {Of course. They are my entourage. They provide me with useful advice and witticisms. They are invaluable.}
Brad: “Really. What sort of advice?”
Gus looks at Monkey Wayne: {Monkey Wayne provides me with both financial advice and is my personal bodyguard, since –as you know- he is Batman.}
Brad nods and Gus continues: {Tigger advises me on energy and educational policy.}
Brad: “I’m not sure I quite get that latter option, but okay. What about Buhn-Buhn.”
Gus looks at Buhn-Buhn the Floppy Bunny and then back at Brad: {My good man, isn’t it obvious? Look at him, he’s adorable. He is, as the kids say these days, my wingman.}

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The THROWDOWN: Ruby of the People Vs. Ruby of the Family.

Round 1: With Kids

Ruby of the People: occasionally shares without having to be prompted, is concerned and shows compassion when non-related kids cry, does not hit or bite, cannot remember anyone's name
Ruby of the Family: doesn't even want the toy till Gus/Hope are playing with it, is often the cause of crying by other kids, both hits and kicks, uses correct names constantly but usually in an accusatory manner.
WINNER: Ruby of the People

Round 2: Obeying

Ruby of the People: listens, does what she is asked fairly quickly, only has to be asked once.
Ruby of the Family: doesn't even seem to have ears in her head, creates imaginary villains on-the-spot who are actively keeping her from obeying in a timely fashion, doesn't even understand english unless you have asked 5 times.
WINNER: Ruby of the People

Round 3: Tone of Voice
Ruby of the People: uses a relatively normal tone, says please, rarely cries or whines.
Ruby of the Family: either doesn't talk at all because her thumb is in her mouth, or yells; has to be reminded constantly that we are not her servants; cries whenever she doesn't get her way.
WINNER: Ruby of the People

Round 4: Gregariousness
Ruby of the People: wants to play with everyone, which sometimes means she leaves kids in the middle of playing with them in order to see what the newly arrived kids are doing. Forgets to ask new kids their names, just calls them "Little Boy" or "Little Girl," even if they are 5 years old.
Ruby of the Family: wants to be with you, specifically. Always comes back to you.
WINNER: Ruby of the Family

Round 5: Lovingness
Ruby of the People: Likes everyone, is usually polite, obedient, and kind. Want's you to be okay. A little bossy, but really just wants you to play with her and like her.
Ruby of the Family: constantly is saying how much she loves her mom, dad, gramma, grampa, nana, poppa, Gussie. Wants to be close, snuggles. Will sit in the kitchen doing nothing just so she can be near you. Loves Jesus and sings songs about Him.
WINNER: Ruby of the Family


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Baby Show: Pre-Chewed for Your Convenience.

Players: Brad, (Gus), Ruby, Ruthie
Location: The kitchen, The Living room, The Master bedroom

Brad is cleaning up in the kitchen, Gus is in the back bedroom with Ruthie, Ruby is playing in the living room.
It gets too quiet in the living room, so Brad steps around the corner to check on Ruby.
Ruby is in the process of stuffing something into her mouth. She sees Brad, gets a stricken look on her face, and FLEES down the hall at full toddler speed.
Brad: "Get back here!"
Ruby slowly trudges back and stands in front of Brad.
Brad: "What's in your mouth?"
Ruby inserts her toddler paw into her mouth and pulls out a white wad.
Brad takes it.
Brad: 'Ruby, this is the gum I chewed when I was running yesterday. Why would you want old, pre-chewed gum?"
Ruby: "I found it and I needed it to go running with the baby stroller and I will get all sweaty."
Brad: "Even if that is true, you don't chew already-chewed gum. It's GROSS."
Ruby stares at Brad blankly, obviously still coveting the gum.
Brad sighs: "Go play."
Ruby runs down the hall to the master bedroom.
Ruby: "Mommy, I ate gum that was already chewed up."
Ruthie: "Are you proud of that?

Ruby: "Yup!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Child Cheat Codes: Carbon-Based Meat Forms

This is something I discovered the other day that I thought was pretty cool.
Maybe everyone knew this already and I'm just slow.
I thought it might be fun to see if I could make a video about it. Seems that this works with many (over)cooked, slightly dense, cold meats.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Baby Show: Nap Time is Sacrosanct

Players: Brad, Gus, Ruby, Ruthie
Location: The Car, on the way home from church.

Brad: "Ruby, what did you do at Church today?"
Ruby stares at Brad with her thumb in her mouth.
Brad: "Ruby, HANDS."
After Ruby takes her thumb out of her mouth, Brad repeats the question.
Ruby: "Played, and the new teachers cause Mr. Parker and Mrs. Parker weren't there, but Mr. Parker was there and they watched over me..." then in sing-songy "watched over me....watched over me...Mr. Parker"
Ruthie: "Ruby, did you learn anything about Jesus?"
Ruby: "The guy died and jesus the bones with praying over the bones." sing songy "Over the bones, over the bones, over the bones." in normal voice "Jesus prayed over the bones, indeedie." Ruby laughs. "INDEEDIE. Grandpa says that all the time. He comes over and says INDEEDIE. Is grandpa coming over?"
Brad: "Not today, sweetie."
Brad looks over to Gus, who has heavy eyes.
Brad: "Hey GUS!"
Gus starts awake {FOOTBALL PRACTICE!. Wait, where am I?}
Brad: "Stay awake, buddy, we'll be home soon."
Gus is already almost asleep again.
Ruthie: "Gus, when we get home, you can have the foods!"
Gus wakes a bit, groggily: {Wha? Food?}
Brad: "Yeah, what would you like?"
Ruby: "Macaroni!"
Ruthie: "You always want macaroni. We aren't having macaroni."
Gus is almost asleep again
Brad: "GUS, what about a banana?"
Gus groggily: "Na-na."
Ruthie: "And some milk"
Gus, more groggily: "Mek?"
Brad: "how about some boiling hot magma?"
Gus wakes a little at a word he doesn't know: "Magmuh?"
Brad: "Yeah, delicious magma."
Gus loses interest and starts to fall asleep.
Brad pulls some peanut butter crackers out of the diaper bag: "Gus, crackers!"
Gus, wakes a little: "Kahkuh?"
Ruby: "I want some crackers."
Ruthie: "Honey, they are to keep Gus awake."
Ruby: "But I want a cracker cause he gets a cracker and then I want a cracker too!"
Brad hands both Ruby and Gus a cracker. Ruby devours it readily. Gus takes a single bite, but the act of chewing proves too exhausting and he lapses back into sleep.
Brad decides to pull out the big guns. He reaches back and begins to tickle Gus's leg.
A little known fact about babies and tickling - when they are fully awake and at least in a average mood, tickling is fun. If they aren't in the right mood, tickling is like baby-torture.
Brad and Gus enter into a cycle - Brad tickles Gus's leg, Gus wails and calls down curses and brimstone on the heads of everyone in the car, Brad stops, Gus slowly falls asleep again, Brad tickles Gus's leg, etc.
Finally, the car pulls into the driveway.
As soon as the car comes to a complete stop, Gus is fully awake: {Oh, we're home? Excellent, I believe I was promised some sort of foodstuffs.}

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sensitive Geek MAN: We never trained for this!

I always see a few mommy-friend at the Library. 
For those of you who aren't familiar with that term, a Library is where they keep books that you can rent and read for free. They also have movies and music.

All the @home parents frequent the same places, and the Library is a big one. They have books, so you feel like you are educating your child just by being in the building, and often they have special activities that are actually educational-and all you have to do is force your kid to sit through it.

I struck up a conversation with a few of the moms while our kids slobbered on all the community toys. After a while, went to get her son and then retired to a chair somewhat out of the way. She pulled out a coverlet, had her son assume “the position”, covered herself, and began to discretely nurse him.

Just like that, my head refused to turn in that direction. It’s like that whole side of the library was a total solar eclipse and I would go eternally blind just by glancing over there.

This mom had done nothing wrong. She wasn't drawing attention to herself, she was completely covered, she was out of the way. Also, I have nothing against public breastfeeding, especially done with the respect and circumspection that she exhibited.

The issue is that, for my entire pubescent and post-pubescent life, I have been trained not to pay attention to that area of the female anatomy. There is no heterosexual human male that I know of who always succeeds at this, but the decent men at least make every effort. The somewhat less decent males at least know how not to get caught.
While I had developed an acceptable amount of self-control, discretion, and (to be honest) sneakiness regarding the female decolletage and such, my training did not cover breastfeeding. Before I became an @home, I didn't encounter it much, so I hadn't added the behavior pattern to me repertoire.  Now, however, I was entering a circle where such encounters could be become regular, a plan of appropriate action will need to be devised.

I imagine that it may be just as strange for a lot of these women; they are probably mostly used to having nothing but little kids and other adult women around them. The increasing addition of Dad@homes must fill them with questions about proper behavior as well. In that regard, I think the mom at the Library did an exemplary job - specifically that her behavior made it such that she was above reproof by current societal standards on the matter. All onus was on me not to be a letch.

Well played.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Baby Show: It's Me Again

Players: Brad, Gus, (Hope), Ruby, Various Bystanders
Location: At the Park

Ruby is running pell mell around the playground with today's baby-friend. Gus is wandering around by the fence pointing at cars in the parking lot. Hope is on Brad's back.
Brad:"RUBY, you have 10 minutes."
Ruby: "Why?"
Brad: "Because we need to go home and feed Hope and get your lunch ready.'
Ruby: "Why?"
Brad: "Because eating is essential to energy creation and life."
Ruby: "Why?"
Brad: "Your body takes food and breaks it down into nutrients that your stomach and intestines then absorb."
Ruby: "Why?"
Brad: "So your circulatory system can then transport those nutrients around your body to use for energy and to rebuild various important internal systems.
Ruby: "Why?"
Brad sighs: "Because God made it that way."
Ruby: "Why?"
Brad: "You'll have to ask HIM. You now have 5 minutes." 
Brad turns to Gus: "Gus, you okay?"
Gus: "CAW." 
{There is such a variety of cars in the area. I'm fascinated by the array. Come look with me.}
Brad: "Okay, I'll be right there." 
Brad walks 20 feet to get the stroller, then pushes it over to Gus, who has knelt down to play with something in the grass.
Brad: "Gus, what ya doing?"
{I am examining this strange grass.} Holds up a mushroom.
Brad takes it quickly out of Gus's hands and picks him up: "Did you eat any?"
Gus blank stare: 
{I am afraid I don't recall. Isn't it more exciting NOT to know?}
Brad sighs, picks a few mushrooms and puts them in the diaper bag. He deposits Gus in the stroller. 
Brad, hits a number on the speed dial of his phone while yelling across the parking lot: "Ruby, we're leaving. Say bye to your friends."
Ruby: "Bye bye, little boy."
Brad hits the number to choose English: "Ruby, you play with him every day. What's his name?"
Ruby thinks for a second: "Leo."
Brad pushes the button to indicate that he is not a medical professional: "Then say bye to him with his name."
Ruby: "Bye, Leo." 
Ruby runs over to Brad and they start walking home as a Technician picks up on the other line.
Technician: "Thank you for calling poison control, how may I help you."
Brad: "Hi Jessica, it's Brad Archer."
Jessica: "Oh, Hey Brad - Ruby or Gus?"

(Original Post: 6/3/2013)