Red Alert

My sleep was interrupted last night by an alert from the Emergency Broadcast System.  With a forecast of potential thunderstorms and severe weather, I rolled out of bed to make sure we didn’t need to head to our safe spot.

Weather wasn’t the issue.  The alert was sent out for an Amber Alert for a missing child.

At that moment, I felt relieved that it wasn’t severe weather bearing down on us and a sense of heartache at what a family must be going through at that moment.   It reminded me of how delicate life can be and how things can change in the blink of an eye.

I know I can’t save Shortcake from every type of pain and heartache that is headed her way (heaven only knows the number of times she’s fallen down recently as she tries to put together the logistics of walking).  But I also know that as a parent I have a huge responsibility to make sure she’s safe as we face the world together.

I’m probably being over-protective, but there have been a few instances in the last month that put me on high alert. Continue reading “Red Alert”

A Thousand Books?!?

As an avid reader, I wanted to share my love of reading with Shortcake as soon as possible.   Not only are there benefits for her brain development but it’s a special time to bond.

Some of my fondest memories growing up involve read with my parents.  My dad and I used to have a tradition of reading the Sunday comics together (the weekly Spider-Man comic strip was a favorite and the smell of coffee often brings back memories of those Sunday mornings) and my mom read several books onto cassette for me so I could listen to them over and over and over again.

Early childhood educators and experts recommend reading 1,000 books to your child before he or she starts kindergarten.  And while that can seem like a LOT of books, our local librarian reminded us that most kids have close to 2,000 days from the time they are born before they enter kindergarten (so you if you miss a day, you don’t have to get too stressed out about it).

goodnightmoonShe also said that you don’t have to read your child a 1,000 different books before kindergarten, just a thousand total books.  So when your young toddler demands that you read Goodnight Moon every night before he or she goes to sleep, each time you read it counts toward the total.

As a good father, I want to ensure not only that Shortcake reads 1,000 books before kindergarten but that she’s also exposed to some of the classics, including some of my favorite characters and universes from pop culture.  (In other words, I want to sow the seeds of geek-dom early and often).

Thankfully we live in a time when books that celebrate and expose little readers to some of their parents’ pop culture favorites are plentiful.  A few of my favorites include:

startrekoppostiesThe Star Trek Book of Opposites:   Taking images from the original (and still the best) Star Trek, this board book covers things like calm (with an image of Spock) and surprised (with an image of Captain Kirk holding up his hands with a surprised look on his face).  Clever and colorful, this book is designed not only to amuse young reader s but also to the people reading it to them.

Doctor Who Meets Mr. Men and Little Miss series:  This mash-up of Doctor Who and the Mr. Men books is delightful for young and old readers.  Currently there are books with the first, second, fourth and seventh through twelfth Doctor either on shelves or on the horizon.  And since Shortcake will sit up and turn her head toward any television set playing the Doctor Who theme, I imagine these will  be read a LOT in our house.

xfiles.jpgThe X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird:  While you may not want your kids to watch The X-Files just yet (it’s kind of dark and scary), you can introduce them to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully with this delightful book.  Young Fox and Dana are camping out in the backyard when they discover weird, wild, possibly alien stuff going on around them and being to investigate.  (If you’re such a nitpicker that you point out that Mulder and Scully never met as children, remind yourself this is just a children’s book and enjoy it.)  Great illustrations and a clever story with lots of homages to the series have made this one of Daddy’s favorite books to read to Shortcake.

DC Superhero Series:  Share your love of superheroes with your young one with these delightful board books, including the heroes and villains of the DC universe.  So far, we’ve only read My First Wonder Woman (which also provides the opportunity to feel things like Wonder Woman’s magic lasso!) but I have a feeling there will be more of these in our future.

Those are just a few of the books/series that I’ve discovered during the first year or so with Shortcake. I’m sure there are others that I’ve either forgotten or overlooked. But I’d love to hear what you recommend we read together on our journey to a thousand books.

Emotions: Unlocked

Finding out you’re going to be a parent can set off a ticking clock in your mind, counting down the days, hours and minutes you have left to get ready for the birth of your child.  There are so many things to prepare whether it’s the nursery, the crib, the bags for the hospital stay, the car-seat for the first ride home.

There are a myriad of books out there on what to expect.  And while they are all full of practical advice on what to expect physically and emotionally from the journey of becoming and being parents, I’m not sure that any book, piece of advice or wisdom from other parents can really prepare for you how overwhelmingly you will love your child. Continue reading “Emotions: Unlocked”

It’s Football Time in Tennessee!!!!

I get a little emotional when my Tennessee Volunteers run through the T for the first time each season.

Last year, taking in the opening game at Nissan Stadium, I was two days removed from seeing my daughter’s heartbeat on an ultrasound for the first time.  I got misty-eyed seeing her little heart winking on the monitor and as the Vols ran through the T, I was overwhelmed with joy that not only was it finally football time in Tennessee again but that I’d share it next year with our first-born child.

wp-1472738739978.jpgA year later, I can’t wait until kick-off this evening to share one of my favorite things in the world with one of my favorite people in the world.  Shortcake and I will be dressed in our orange and white tonight, cheering on Daddy’s beloved Vols as they begin the 2016 campaign.

And yes, it may suddenly get a little dusty sitting in my recliner with Shortcake on my lap, teaching her to say “Touchdown Tennessee!” and to question the referee’s judgement and/or eyesight any time a call goes against the Volunteers.   I may not jump up and down as much or be quite as vocal as I have been in previous seasons (that cats are grateful for this) but that’s OK.   It’s going to be a great season.

Oh and I fully expect Shortcake’s Uncle Butch to not allow her to grow up in a world with losing streaks to Florida and  Alabama in place.


Cry, Cry, Cry

We’ve been blessed that Shortcake is a very congenial little girl.   Her crying spells usually indicate that it’s time to change her diaper or that it’s time for her to eat.

Until yesterday, as long as she was changed, fed and comfortable (aka swaddled), she would generally calm down fairly easily.

Then yesterday hit and she was consolable for hours.

I figure it was a combination of a big day for Mother’s Day combined with some gas and/or possible constipation.  Whatever it was, it added up to one very unhappy little girl for a very long time.  Even our go-to’s from The Happiest Baby on the Block (great book, BTW) and certain types of music (I confess that she loves Yanni) didn’t help for long.

We even went to the old cliche of putting in the car and driving around a bit.

All of these helped for a few minutes but overall Shortcake was having no part of this comforting.

And then, as suddenly as it started, it all stopped.  She calmed down, relaxed and was finally able to rest.  I think she’d tired herself out from the fussing and I won’t lie to say it was a welcome sight to see her resting peacefully again.

I know as we move forward in her life, that she will face a lot of things and look to Daddy to make them better.  Right now, making things better is fairly straight-forward (again, let’s run the list of are we dirty diapered, hungry or need to change out outfit because it’s wet).  But I also know there will come times when a hug, a bottle or a swaddle won’t make things better.  And it breaks my heart a bit.  I want all the best for her and want to make sure that there’s no problem so big that Daddy can’t fix it.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is my wife’s first Mother’s Day as a mom.

Oh sure, for the first four or so years of our marriage, I picked out a card and a small token for her that came from the cats, but there is just something about having a newborn on Mother’s Day that makes it special.

I feel like our lives have changed phenomenally in the past 29 days since Shortcake was born.  And it’s been such a wonderful change that I can’t imagine what life was like before it — except I vaguely recall we got more sleep.

I can’t even complain that I won’t get to see the new Captain America movie this weekend (featuring my favorite superhero, Spider-Man).   I’d rather spend time with Shortcake and her mom, just hanging out, changing diapers and feed Shortcake bottles than see a bunch of superheroes go toe-to-toe.  Odds are I’m going to buy the movie on Blu-Ray to go with the rest of the collection.

But our first Mother’s Day….you can’t buy that on Blu-Ray.

Sit-Com Dad, Take 1

We’ve all seen sit-com dads react to the birth of their first child.  It generally involves lots of running around, looking panicked and, in general, looking like a fool.

When we found out we were expecting our first child in late April, I was determined that I wouldn’t be one of those sit-com dads, losing his head in the moment.

And then when my wife’s water broke, I was swimming laps at the YMCA pool, setting me into full-on sit-com dad mode.

I suppose that I should have seen it coming.  We’d just seen her OB that morning and he’d said that it looked good for her to go another two weeks until she came to full term before delivery.  He was even headed out for vacation and said he’d see us when he got back.

In hindsight, that should have been a warning to me – or at least set my spider-sense to tingling a bit.  Instead, it just comforted me that I had a few more days to get the house ready* and to make sure that we had our bags packed and ready to go to the hospital.  Oh sure, we’d thrown together a few things a few weeks before when we were just sure that our daughter was coming that day.  But in that time, I’d done silly things like unpack the toothbrush and other things to ensure that my daughter’s first moments with me didn’t include stinky breath or a dad who needed desperately to take a bath.

* I was in the midst of spring-cleaning and hadn’t yet tackled that most worrisome of all cleaning projects – the refrigerator. Continue reading “Sit-Com Dad, Take 1”