& we’re still kickin’

Sorry, folks. I know, it’s been a while, and you’ve probably moved on from us. I understand. I had to put the blog in the garage for a while—we got busy since my with a whole bunch of stuff. So let me recap and get you caught up with the Sasquatch family.

How do you pack a toddler, exactly?

How do you pack a toddler, exactly?

For starters, we moved. I don’t know if you’ve ever moved with a toddler, but to quote Lady Gwendolyn of Stefania: “That shit is bananas.” The last time we moved, Squatch was about five weeks old, and he was pretty much out of the way. This time, he was all up in everything. If he was around while we were packing, he was taking stuff out of the box as fast as we could get it in there. Packing his room was especially awful. What probably should’ve taken about half an hour was a three-day ordeal. If you have to move with a toddler, just leave your stuff and get new things. It’ll just be easier that way, trust me. Maybe you’ll luck out and the people who were there before you had a toddler—then you can just have their stuff.

Squatch has been growing up way too fast. He got a big-boy bed, he’s doing all kinds of stuff on his own, and he’s talking a bunch. Like a lot. Like ALL THE TIME. I wish I was exaggerating. There have been days where, if he wasn’t sleeping, he was talking. About anything and everything. It’s adorable and exhausting. One of my favorite videos (courtesy of Karli):

This kid. #grahamcrackcrack #mynose

A video posted by Karli Davis (@1001tries) on

It’s that, all the time. Usually a lot louder, though.

So the move and the Squatch are why you didn’t hear from me all summer, and then I started school in August and have pretty much been busy with reading and endless papers since then*. It’s great being back in school, but so much more difficult than the last time I did this. My program is more demanding, for one, but I also didn’t have to do reading in between playing trains and episodes of Team Umizoomi. Totally a different ballgame these days.

*It’s still busy as hell. This is just my way of procrastinating.

So that’s what’s been keeping us pretty busy—moving, toddler, school, work, preparing for the new baby, Christmas decorations…

What was the last one you said? Christmas decorations? Well, it is that time of year…

Oh, before that? The baby. Okay, you got me. Maybe I should have led with that. Internet, meet Sugarfoot:

Arriving under a Christmas tree near you (as long as you're near Kansas City).

Arriving under a Christmas tree near you (as long as you’re near Kansas City).

The due date is December 27*, which means that as of this Saturday, we’re officially in “any day now” territory. Karli’s doing well, but the pregnancy for this one has been completely different—for both (well, all three) of us.

*I know, you’re finding out really late in the game. You can be mad at me, it’s okay.

Obligatory cuteness: Squatch was Bob Ross for Halloween. Commence squealing with delight.

Obligatory cuteness: Squatch was Bob Ross for Halloween. Commence squealing with delight.

For Squatch, it should be fairly obvious how it’s different. Karli’s having a rougher go of it than the first time around—morning sickness was worse, pains and indigestion have been worse, I’ve been worse. It’s not been much of an enjoyable experience for her, with the exception of her doctor, who is infinitely better than the last one. That’s the benefit of living in a city instead of forty-five minutes outside a town nobody beyond Oklahoma has heard of.

On my end, it’s crazier, too. Not as difficult as it is for Karli, but I’m pulling the extra duty of taking care of a pregnant lady and a rambunctious, talkative toddler this time. Plus all that crap I was talking about before. You’re jealous, I know.

So that’s where we’re at. I wish I could stay and talk more, but I’ve got a meeting to get to. This is my life now. I won’t make it so long between now and our next chat, and the next time I show up, we’ll have to talk about new blog names. This one’s about to become obsolete.

& sleeping cutie

So fair warning here: chances are I’m going to piss you off a bit here, particularly if you’re the parent of a toddler who’s a little less than cooperative. At times, this might sound like I’m complaining about something practically every parent would give almost any amount of money for. Know that I’m not, but really just making an observation. It’s still okay if you hate me for this. I’ll understand.

haters-gonna-hate_1231

The thing is, Squatch likes sleep. He gets that from his mom. Not that I don’t like sleep—I’m a pretty big fan—it’s just that Karli and Squatch can work the hell out of a nap. We’ve lucked out that we haven’t had sleeping problems very often or very long with this one. Yes, you can start to hate me now. If it makes you feel any better, he does get up pretty early

Keepin it classy in KC.

Keepin it classy in KC.

This past Sunday, Squatch and I took in a Royals day game with my mom as a belated Mother’s Day celebration. It meant he had to miss his nap, and really only got about 10 minutes of sleep on the way from the game to the barbecue place*. By the time we got home, he was beat. He was a really good sport about it, but he crashed early and slept in (till SEVEN A.M.!) the next morning.

*Gates Bar B. Q., if you were wondering. It doesn’t really get much better than baseball and Kansas City barbecue on a beautiful day. And while we’re on it, I’ll just go ahead and put it out there—KC barbecue is the best barbecue. I’m not even going to argue it, so don’t even try.

Monday, he finally did take a nap—FOR FOUR HOURS! Yeah, I know. That’s what I’m going to talk about, and why you’re going to hate me. Because while there is sheer awesomeness to be had in a four-hour nap, especially due to its rarity, there’s one thing I observed about this phenomenon: It’s really hard to get stuff done when your kid naps for four hours.

“But that’s just stupid. I can get a lot done in that four hours.”

First off, good to see you again, Imaginary Internet Reader. Haven’t heard from you in a while. And secondly, you’re right—sort of. The thing about kids, especially young ones, is that schedules and routine really matter. These guys can’t tell time, so routine keeps them from constantly flipping their shit. And if your kid routinely takes two hour naps, you learn to get things done during those two hours.

When your kid hunkers down for a four-hour nap, you don’t actually know it’s going to be a four-hour nap. You get your plan set for the two-hour slot you usually have to fill and you do all the things before your kid wakes up.

Only then he doesn’t get up. So what do you do? You don’t want to start on something you need to dedicate a ton of time to because he’s already passed his normal waking point, and he can pop right out of bed at any time now, demanding your attention. Instead, you decide to undertake tasks that you can easily abandon at a moment’s notice and require little commitment. You’re paralyzed on your couch because you just know the minute you settle into that big project, that’s when he’s going to get up.

And that’s how you spend half your afternoon watching YouTube videos instead of doing something actually useful.

“So why don’t you just wake your kid up after two hours so he keeps his schedule?”

Screw that, IIR. It’s four hours of me time. I’m not giving that up, not for all the YouTubes in the world.

(A quick coda: Yesterday’s was a three-hour nap, only the internet was out at my place for most of it, so I went with a book instead. Books: The internet before the internet was the internet.)

Squatch’s Summer Reading List

A little light reading to start off the day.

A little light reading to start off the day.

Howdy, Computer People! Squatch here—again—since Daddy can’t seem to get it together to run this place anymore. When you want stuff done right, you have to cry until it happens, y’know?

So I’m coming onto the bloggy-ma-jobby today to talk to you guys about reading. It’s super important, in case you didn’t know, and super fun. After cars, trucks, planes, trains, dinosaurs, applesauce, hamburgers, and swings, reading is my favorite thing!

And I’m sure, since Daddy tells me I’m a big computer celebrity, everyone in the computer is wondering what I like to read. It’s a good question, because aside from Mater, I’m the most interesting person I know. Why wouldn’t you want to know the books I like to read?

Maybe you can consider this Squatch’s Book Club—kind of like that lady on TV, only I don’t give out free stuff. This isn’t about my books that Daddy likes. All the books here come with the Squatch seal of approval, and if that’s not worth something, then you’re not worth knowing.

Wait, that was rude. Say you’re sorry.

Now, onto the Squatch book picks for the summer of whatever year this is.

Bear in Underwear

BIUbookThis book tops the list this year. I don’t know what it is about this one that I like so much. Maybe it’s the squishy cloth underwear on the front cover that are so much fun to touch. Maybe it’s that I can actually pronounce* all the words in the title. Maybe it’s the bright colors, which are always a big hit.

*[Daddy’s note]: Kind of. “Underwear” sounds like “uh-weh,” but we’re going to count it.

Whatever the reason, I can’t get enough of this book. I like it so much that Mommy and Daddy ripped off the design for my birthday invitations, and Gram said she’d make me a Bear in Underwear cake for my party. I don’t know if they’ve given out the Pulitzer for this year*, but this one is a sure-fire winner.

*[Daddy’s note]: It’s not eligible because A) it’s a picture book, B) it was published in 2010, and C) it’s about an anthropomorphic bear finding a backpack full of underwear and sharing it with his friends. Oops—spoiler alert.

The Little Blue Truck books

LBTbooksLittle Blue Truck is about a truck. So is Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. That makes them automatic winners. Throw in a gaggle of animals making noises and a bunch of other cars, also making noises, and you’ve got a couple contenders for Night-Night Book of the Year. (That’s a thing, right?*) I can—and do—have Mommy and Daddy read both of these books over and over and over. And over again, just to make sure they’ve picked up on all the nuances of plot and characterization.

*[Daddy’s note]: Nope.

The only downside to these books is that one of the lessons they’re trying to teach is about slowing down and taking turns. This flies in the face of everything I know about the world. It just doesn’t work that way. First of all, you have to go fast. Second, it’s always my turn. Always. But if you look past the pie-in-the-sky idealism here, they’re pretty good page-turners.

Dr. Seuss Bright and Early Board Books

SuessbooksThese books are a must own for every bookshelf. Of course, I’m talking about the original trilogy here—if you find anyone that says his favorite is The Foot Book, well, you just can’t trust anything else that comes out of his mouth. You have to read them back-to-back, three times over, in the proper order, too. First comes There’s a Wocket in my Pocket!, then Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, and finally ABC.

Occasionally, you might run into the occasional person who says ABC should come first, because you have to learn the alphabet. But these people are nuts. If you read ABC first, you miss the setup of the zany creatures in Wocket, which helps establish the altered reality of the world. Mr. Brown helps ground the reader in a familiar setting, while ABC helps tie the two threads together into a satisfying conclusion. Duh.

Hippos Go Berserk

HGBbookWho doesn’t love hippos, honestly? And going berserk? C’mon! Put them together? Gold!

I’ve read this one so much that Daddy has it memorized. Sometimes, I like to sit on my stool in the bathroom with it while Daddy’s in the shower and he reads it to me. I don’t even have to flip the pages. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS!

The bad part about this book is that you can see all the plot twists coming once you see where she’s going with it. The hippos keep counting up and you know at some point, with that many hippos, they’re going to go berserk. Then it starts counting down and—well, I’m not going to spoil the ending for people who don’t understand basic plot formulas.

Tootle

TootlebookThis would probably be my No. 1 favorite all-time book, except for one thing: I have no idea what happens in it. Whenever Mommy or Daddy tell me to go pick out a book, this one’s my first go-to. Even when they try to hide it in the middle of all the Golden Books, I yank them all out till I find this one.

But I don’t ever actually want to read it. I just like to point out the choo-choos. Have you ever seen this book? SO MANY CHOO-CHOOS! We haven’t ever actually made it past the second page of the story. I mean, look at that cover—if that’s not the happiest friggin choo-choo you’ve ever seen, I’ll eat a whole Chipotle chicken taco and the little bag of chips that comes with it*.

*[Daddy’s note]: Don’t take that bet. He’ll do that anyway.

Machines and Colors

MachinesNColorsThey’re not the same book, but I lumped them together anyway because they’re both kind of plotless and more character-driven.

These are tried-and-true favorites that I keep going back to time and time again. I love machines, so that one’s kind of a no-brainer. I don’t think I can even count how many machines are in that book, but it’s a lot. And I’m learning my colors, so the other book really helps, too. I’m getting really good at them by now. (Pro tip: The answer’s always “yellow.”*)

*[Daddy’s note]: No, it’s not.

Bears on Chairs

BOCbookI’m going to be perfectly honest here—I included this book to throw Mommy a bone. She really likes reading me this one.

Not that I can blame her, mind you. I mean, it’s got bears, and that’s always a crowd pleaser. And it’s got chairs. I like chairs. And that Big Brown Bear is a riot. Plus, as a bonus, it rhymes. You can’t hate that.

It’s just all about sharing, which, as I’ve already established, is a little bit of a useless lesson. I can understand why Mommy likes that, though. She loves sharing. She almost always shares her dinner with me. And her cookies. And ice cream. And water from her Mommy cup. And anything else when I want it. She’s a sharer. It makes sense that this is her favorite book ever. Daddy never shares. I think he tried to bite me once when I tried sharing*. And he holds that fork like he’s going to stab a wildebeest with it. I like sharing with Mommy.

*[Daddy’s note]: This is probably almost certainly completely sort of untrue. I think. I get into kind of a fog when it’s mealtime, so I can’t be sure.

So there’s your reading assignment for the summer, computer people. Better get to it. Any suggestions for me? I’ll pass them along to my staff.

& let the words begin

Finals week where I teach* was last week, which means I’m now on summer break. Also known as Dad Time. It’s another summer full of me and the Squatch, only this time he’s mobile and stir crazy. This could get interesting.

*Well, I should say “taught” now. I’m not going to be back there in the fall, but I can’t quite admit it to myself yet. Just let me have this, okay?

This crazy school year being over means three other things, though:

  1. More time to spend with you, the fine people of the Bloggy-verse.
  2. Working on the shift from being the one nobody’s noticing at the front of the class to one of the many in seats playing on Facebook. Or as it’s known more colloquially, from teacher to student.
  3. Reading. Lots and lots of reading.

I’m going to spend a couple of posts focusing on that third one (well, and the first one, obviously) because it’s summer and I’m about to go get all doctored in literature, so it just makes sense. And I don’t need to justify my reasons for posting this stuff anyway. It’s my party and I’ll talk about books if I want to.

WhenIFirstHeldYouA couple weeks ago, I got a package in the mail courtesy of Brian Gresko*, who I know from the DadBloggers Facebook group. It should be no surprise to you by this point in the post that inside was a book—one he edited, in fact, called When I First Held You. It’s an anthology of essays on fatherhood by a bunch of critically acclaimed authors. It came out yesterday, and now that grading’s done, I finally got a chance to read it.

*First, I’ll just say that Gresko is already pretty awesome in my book because his son’s name is Felix, and that’s my kid’s name. So you already know he’s got taste.

Probably my favorite book on fatherhood is by one of my favorite authors—Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs. It’s not entirely about being a dad, but it factors into large parts of the book, so I feel comfortable saying it’s about fatherhood. I find it interesting and strange to read what an author whose work I admire so much has to say about being a dad. When you come to enjoy an author’s work, frequently it’s because you’re drawn to something in that work you can identify with; somewhere inside your head, you’re saying, “Me too,” and “I get that,” and “That’s so true.” And often you don’t stop to think necessarily about that author as a person and about those other ways in which you also connect to them.

I’d read many of the authors in When I First Held You previously, and—like with Chabon’s book—I hadn’t really considered that other part of their lives, the part away from the keyboard full of peanut butter sandwiches and Target runs and squeezing little feet into little shoes. So I enjoyed that this book gave the chance to experience, particularly as someone who fancies himself in the same profession as these admittedly more successful gentlemen, that other side of the writing life—the one that doesn’t always show up on the pages of novels, at least not overtly.

Much in the way I do with those novels I go back to time and time again, I found myself doing the same internal agreement dance. When Lev Grossman says, “[T]here’s no point in holding things back. Babies don’t hold anything back. […] You can’t bullshit a baby,” I nod my head. When Ben Percy says, “Becoming a parent fundamentally changed my vision. I cannot help but see the world in sharp angles. I walk into a room and itemize the woodstove, the electrical socket, the scissors, the open window, the bottle of bleach—whatever can hurt. Everything’s a hazard,” my alligator brain answers back, “Me too.”

This book is full of moments like these, where the authors manage to pin down the myriad of quirks and joys and failures of being a parent. That might be one of the traps held in a book like this—these moments are incredibly beholden to the audience they’re reaching. To the childless, the essays in the book might feel a little self-indulgent or mundane. Talking about the existential crises of becoming a parent is fairly hard to pull off in a way that’s enjoyable to those who haven’t experienced it, and many of the authors in When I First Held You manage to do just that. But in the hands of a parent, these essays are a series of co-conspiratorial nods to the reader that cut right to the heart of what it means to be in the care of a little life-changing being. Poignant, engaging, and frequently on-the-nose, the essays in this book are well-crafted and thoughtful reflections on probably the most ubiquitous of life-changing experiences.

The one glaring knock on the anthology is the relative lack of diversity in the authors presented—of the 22 fathers, 18 are straight, white men, though there are some divorced guys in there to provide a little variation in perspective. This certainly isn’t a knock on the quality of the writing, which is largely great. With any anthology, there are certainly some entries that are stronger than others, though this one is full of such high caliber writers that it’s hard to find a true weak point in the writing itself.

I did enjoy the chance to learn new authors I might enjoy, especially in the light of seeing them as a dad first. My favorite was Ben Greenman’s “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” which tackles the very idea of what parenthood means and laments the myriad of things you won’t remember no matter how much you want to keep it all. I definitely appreciated the essays by Dennis Lehane and Ben Percy for both their resolute honesty and the way they changed the way I see those writers in my head.

Though When I First Held You is a book by dads, it’s certainly not exclusively for dads. Parents, regardless of genitalia, will identify with the men who wrote this book, their many worries and challenges, and—ultimately—the mixed bag of emotions that come along with the raising of children.

Next time, I’ll talk about books some more, but I’ll get Squatch’s help. Stay tuned.

& some resuscitation, with introductions

Here's a picture of a cute kid so you don't lynch me for being gone so long. Pitchforks down, people.

Here’s a picture of a cute kid so you don’t lynch me for being gone so long. Pitchforks down, people.

You know what Twain said—reports of my death, blah, blah, blah. Well, I’ve been staying alive over on the Facebook and the Tweeter and even the Instagrams*, so find me there if you’ve been getting splinters in your ass pining away for me** over here.

*I have no idea how to link to this, but my username is andedav, if you want to find me.
**See what I did there? I learned puns while I was away! Still miss me?

All right, so three months away probably deserves a little explanation. Well, first off, I’ve been getting sick more since August than I probably have in the previous decade, mostly because daycare has turned Squatch into a petri dish. Illness doesn’t put me in the best mood for writing.

Second, I picked up an extra lit class this semester, so that’s just another giant stack of papers to grade with less time to do that in. Yeah, I’m using that as an excuse. Sue me.

Third, since my teaching gig is a year-to-year thing with no really good idea what I’ll be doing the following fall, I spent a bunch of time this past fall doing applications to figure out what I’ll be doing next fall. Like a bunch of time. Then I spent just as much time over the couple months after Christmas fretting about those applications to the point where I was probably pre-aneurysm at any given point. Then last month I got accepted to a PhD program for the fall, and I got a GTA* to help pay for it. Hooray! Only now I’ve been spending the month since fretting about getting everything ready to do the school thing again. With a kid this time! Seriously, people, my brain’s been exploding about this stuff.

*Not that I’m super excited to go back to the peasant caste of teaching assistants again, but it means my tuition is covered. Luckily, it was a short fall from temporary instructor.

So my blog kind of deflated over the last few months. Sorry about that, guys. I’d promise to do better in the future, but you and I both know better than to believe me on that. The best I can do is promise to try. You can Yoda me all you want on that—try is the best I got right now.


Anyway, here’s what brought me back: Squatch’s future mother-in-law invited me to pitch in a piece over at Tipsy Lit for their Higher Ed Week. It’s an awesome site that I like to go over and read between panic attacks. If I’m not mistaken, it’s mostly ladies writing over there, and I’m one of the first dudes to make an appearance. Shattering the glass ceiling*, left and right.

*Actually, the glass ceiling is for women, I believe. So would it be the glass floor? In either case, it’s Y-chromosomes doing our part for gender equality.

Tipsy Lit being a bigger deal than my little, underused corner of the internet, I figured some readers might make their way over here. So welcome, Tipsy Litters! As a means of getting you familiarized with what goes on here, allow me to show you some of my faves:

I’ll leave it at that. There’s some more good stuff on here. It’s like boogers on the underside of the couch—just dig around and you’ll find ‘em.