& a happy squatchmas

Squatch’s first Christmas was an exciting time for everyone. So exciting, in fact, that Squatch himself has been bored the last couple days by comparison. He got to see a ton of people and skipped a bunch of naps, which means sleep schedules got messed up. Mine and Karli’s especially.

To help make this easier on the tired old daddy, we’ll take a look at Squatch’s Christmas adventures through photos.

So do you have my bottle?

So do you have my bottle?

After several false starts, Squatch got to meet Santa. He then spent the rest of the holiday looking at everyone with a white beard and saying “I have met Santa and you, sir, are no Santa.” Okay, I might have been saying it for him. It was funny every time.

This hat and those glasses seem familiar. I just can't seem to place them.

This hat and those glasses seem familiar. I just can’t seem to place them.

We went to my dad and stepmom’s house on the Sunday before Christmas to hang out with that part of the family. Lots of cousins for Squatch to smile at, but he got too tired and cranky by presents time, so he slept through them all. Luckily, one of his cousins was more than happy to help open his presents.

This is awesome! I love colored paper!

This is awesome! I love colored paper!

On Christmas Eve, we hung out with my mom and stepdad at our place. Squatch got to hang out at home, go out for lunch, and open his first presents ever. As was to be assumed, he really loved the paper and bows. He thought his presents were awesome, too, and hanging out with Grammy is always cool.

Does this hat make my head look big?

Does this hat make my head look big?

On Christmas morning, Wumpy, Gram, and Squatch’s aunt Kellie came over. Lots more presents (mostly for Squatch), a deep dish pizza (not for Squatch), a long-awaited viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, and everyone was happy.

Oh! Em! Gee! AN ELEPHANT!

Oh! Em! Gee! AN ELEPHANT!

The thing about Christmas gifts is that getting age-appropriate ones for Squatch would be kind of boring. Six-month-olds don’t really get much cool stuff. So a lot of what people got him are actually too old for him, like the rocking elephant from Karli’s parents and the ride-along dog from my mom and the shape sorter from Santa. He thinks they’re incredibly cool, though. Or maybe I’m just projecting that because I think they’re cool. I have a feeling that, as he gets older, the age appropriateness gap will narrow. By the time he’s six, I’m sure he’ll be getting age-appropriate  gifts. If memory serves me correctly, a few years later the gap will head the other way and he’ll be getting some presents too young for him.  Those are the fun years. By the time he has his own kids, he’ll like the toys more than they do.

The couple days after Christmas, we hung out at the Plaza in Kansas City with Karli’s grandma and uncle, then went to a little get-together the next day so some of Karli’s cousins could meet Squatch. The last couple days we’ve all caught up on some much needed sleep. We should be ready to do this again by his birthday, I think.

Hope your holidays have been as great and tiring and drama-free as ours. Enjoy the new year!

Happy FeliXmas!

Happy FeliXmas!

& one down

Today officially marks one whole trip around the sun where this bloggy space has been a thing. And you totally care.

You might be spending this weekend with your family, which means you’re reading this a few days from now, after the Christmas and New Year’s rush has died down, or you’re on your thirteenth glass of eggnog (out of the adult punch bowl) and taking a break from quality time to surf the internet while hiding in your coat closet and trying not to ralph on Aunt Bernice’s peacoat. In either case, hope your holidays are wonderful.

This time last year, we were just telling our families about their impending doom grandparenthood.

squatch

The release date got moved up to a weekend with a better box office draw.

Now we have a little man who’s about ready to get a job and start contributing to our fast-paced and irresponsible lifestyle.

We don't call him Squatch for nothin.

We don’t call him Squatch for nothin.

In between I wrote a lot of pointless garbage, moved, and “met” some cool folks in the Bloggy-verse. Some I’ve struck up conversations, shared ideas, or arranged marriages with. Others I’ve stalked from afar and have yet to engage in a discourse. But it shall happen. I haven’t been able to take this bloggy thing as seriously as some, but it’s still a thing. And now it’s a year-old thing.

Squatch has made some new friends, too. He’s got a bat:

Totally not creepy.

Totally not creepy.

And Captain America:

Thanks, DorkDaddy!

Thanks, DorkDaddy!

And his best buddy Jack:

Photo stolen from our friend Val.

Photo stolen from our friend Val.

So what’s going to come in the year ahead? Well, I’ll probably talk about planning a one-year-old’s birthday with class and dignity (note to self: jungle animal petting zoo—this has to be a thing). There will be teeth and varying degrees of mobility, and likely some sort of talking splashed in there by this time next year. You can keep up-to-date with all of it on the “& Squatch Makes Three Special Fun-Time Facebook Page” (like it, Hipster) or through the Squatchiest feed on the Twitter. In fact, please do. I have few followers and even fewer page likes. It’s pathetic. Don’t let me be that kid. Come sit at my internet lunch table.

As a preemptive token of our gratitude, Squatch wanted me to pass along a holiday message:

Doesn’t that just give you the warm fuzzies deep down in your gut?

Thanks for a good year, blog friends. Here’s hoping for another.

& a lesson in manhood: for goodness sake

Lessons in Manhood

Lesson 10: Optimism

Squatch, you’re starting to learn that the world isn’t always amazing. The world seems to be coming to an end about five times a day, it seems—when your teething pains start up, when you’re not being fed rightthisminute, when your diaper’s just a little too wet. I don’t have to explain to you that life is hard.

The past few weeks have been full of reminders for your mom and me, too. A few weeks ago, not too many miles from where we live right now, a football player shot his girlfriend and then himself, leaving their (younger-than-you) baby without a mom and dad. Last week, some lunatic shot up a mall in Oregon. Just a few days ago, another one shot up a school in Connecticut, killing children and teachers and causing your mom and I to shed more tears over people we don’t even know than we probably ever have before. Last night, as the president was talking about how we should be saddened and outraged by what happened at that school, two police officers were shot outside a grocery store in Topeka, where your mom and I went to college and spent good chunks of our lives. A mom and her two young kids saw it happen from their own car.

I know that you’re aware of none of this stuff today, and none of it is nearly as terrifyingly horrific as bones literally forcing their way out of your skin right this minute. And I wish like hell I could keep it that way for you.

Wish in one hand, shit in the other—right?

You can’t tell, but these things—particularly the school shooting in Connecticut—are weighing pretty heavily on your mom and me, as well as seemingly half the internet. You’ll find that these things have a tendency to beat you down*. There have been moments over the last few days where we’ve questioned things. Schools are supposed to be a safe place. We’ve asked (like probably half the parents in America did) if we should screw it all and homeschool you. I’ve considered scouting out jobs in another country where shit like this doesn’t happen nearly as often. We’ve asked if we should board up the windows, order all our groceries off Amazon and live the hermit’s existence.

*Or you won’t. If we’re lucky, you won’t.

Of course we won’t, though. It’s not how we live. It’s not how you’re going to be raised. As much as bad stuff happens, I still hold firm to my belief that people are good. That the world is good. That good is the predominant, fundamental, controlling thing that holds everything together.

I have to believe that. I wouldn’t get out of bed without that.

There are so many wonderful things in the world that it would be a terrible thing to overlook them. People help each other out through national disasters. Our baseball team won the World Series this year. Paul McCartney sang with Nirvana. Cheez-Its. Kansas City barbecue. The first three Indiana Jones movies. Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. (Imaginary) Secret Santa gifts from strangers. Chocolate. Shoddy traveling carnival rides. Ooh, and funnel cakes. This:

puppykitty

In fact, right now you’re just a pudgy little ball of goodness yourself. This only scratches the surface of all the goodness in the world, and you’ll get to spend the rest of your life discovering everything that is good.

The opposite of good isn’t evil, Squatch. I don’t think evil exists. Evil is only a concept for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the Yankees. The opposite of good is pessimism, greed, fear. It’s when these things are predominant that bad things happen.

We’re not going to live that way. You’re going to go to school and have friends. You’re going to meet new people and try new things. You’re going to travel to different places. We’re not going to shutter the doors or buy a gun or look sideways at every person we pass on the street.

I choose to see the good. I hope you choose to see the good.

When bad things happen, we can’t ignore them. That would be silly and immature. We have to remember them. We have to grieve. And we have to work to ensure they won’t happen again. We have to make them good.

& today…

This morning had so much promise. Yesterday was Karli’s birthday, so we hung out with friends, ate lots of food, and had a good time. My finals week is over, and all that’s left is the massive pile of grading. This morning I woke up to the divvying-up of the Festivus Secret Santa presents. This post was supposed to be about how awesome it was that my Secret Santa chose Giants season tickets and a bad-ass pizza oven for me. My Secret Santa gets me. Then I was supposed to challenge Emily, the host and figurative head of our little blogging family, to the Feats of Strength. Festivus is a magical time of year.

But you know what happened next. If you don’t, then your great-granddaughter probably printed this out for you to read. Ask her if you can see the internet for a few minutes.

It’s all I’ve really been able to think about since mid-day. Like much of the country, I’m sad today. I’m sad that we’ve seen this type of thing before, and I’m sad that we’ll—in all likelihood—see it again. It’s a different kind of sad, though. When the Columbine shooting happened, I was in high school, and I watched the news for hours. I was shocked as I watched other high school students climbing out of windows and mourn the loss of their classmates. When the Virginia Tech shooting happened, I was in grad school, and I was shocked as I watched fellow college students and teachers flee from their own campus.

For the first time, though, I’m seeing this tragedy as a parent, reading about students too young to know about these things who are being massacred, watching their classmates be massacred. I’m more than shocked. I hurt.

At one point, as I was reading all the information about what was happening, Karli asked me if I was crying. No, I said. But I was damn close. It was hard.

This happened nowhere near us, but it made us ask questions.

How can we make sure Squatch doesn’t end up as the type of person who does something like that? How do you talk to your kid about these things when they happen? What if this had happened in Squatch’s class? Or to Squatch?

I don’t think we have answers to any of that. I don’t think any parent plans on needing the answers to those questions. All I can come up with would be to answer all those questions in the same way: We make sure Squatch knows his parents love him, couldn’t love him more.

Right now, at the end of the day that ended up so far from its promising start, I’m left with simply being relieved that my kid is still too young to know anything about what happened today halfway across the country. Today he laughed with his mommy and daddy, he visited with his grandparents, he came thisclose to finally rolling all the way over, and he laughed some more. Today he doesn’t have to know anything else. For that one thing I can be grateful right now.

Tomorrow I can be grateful for Giants tickets and pizza ovens.

& let the grievances fly

I got a lot of problems with you people. And now you’re going to hear about it.

Ok, maybe not with you people*, but I’ve got some grievances that need to be aired. If only there were a holiday that allowed us to do that. The Waiting‘s Emily and Ashley, Etc.‘s Ashley are throwing a Festivus party for the Bloggy-verse, so to get into the holiday spirit, I decided to gripe.

*Not you people in the offensive way. When I say you people, I mean the half dozen of you tasteless freaks that read this crap.

The first grievance isn’t really a grievance. Really just an observation about this Festivus party*. There’s a Secret Santa exchange. I’ve got no problem with that. I like presents. But that’s sort of the opposite of what Festivus is about, which is meant to be an anti-commercialism event. It’s like if you celebrated Christmas by kicking babies. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that Emily and Ashley like to kick babies.

*Emily and Ashley, you can’t get mad at me because I’m getting into the Festivus spirit. I’m doing it for you!

My first real grievance is with Pinterest. Just part of Pinterest, really. They’ve got some okay stuff on there, especially if you’re into cream cheese, chalkboard paint, and mason jars, which I’m not exactly. I’m not even bent out of shape about the corny inspirational crap that people seem to pin the hell out of. Go to town if that’s your thing.

Trust me, if Shakespeare wrote things as inane and vapid as this, we wouldn't be reading him 400-some years later.

Trust me, if Shakespeare wrote things as inane and vapid as this, we wouldn’t be reading him 400-some years later.

The trouble is that Pinterest has become the easiest way available to spread stupidity. Don’t get me wrong—Facebook and Twitter can make their own claims to the stupidity belt, but Pinterest, by making it a one-click process, has allowed it to spread like the crazy monkey virus in Outbreak. Some examples of the stupid shit I see popping up? Quotes attributed to people who never came close to saying anything of the sort. I understand that people love it when one of their personal beliefs or some vapid bumper sticker phrase can be attributed to someone with actual credibility, but some people don’t take the two seconds to a) actually read the damn quote, or b) consider if it sounds anything like that person would actually say. Lincoln didn’t have anything pertinent to say about wakeboarding, trust me.

Another thing that seemed to be making the rounds on Pinterest was the tip to download music “legally” by going to a site. Let’s get this straight—it’s not legal. If it were legal, there wouldn’t be a link on the site to a petition to make it legal. It’s still stealing. You want to know a legal way to download music? Buy it. If you want to download it free, don’t try to call it legal. Getting things from someone who already stole it doesn’t make it legal. It makes you an accessory, genius. If you still think this is completely on the up-and-up, I think I have some old friends from middle school who’d like to store some stuff in your garage for a while—you know, till the heat dies down.

The next thing (and we’ll make this the last so I don’t let the inner cranky old man get too much airtime today) is this CD that Karli got at Target a few weeks back. See, she digs Christmas music. Pretty hard core about it, actually—like she listens to Christmas music on Memorial Day—that hard core. She also likes her some Irish music. So while we were at Target, we picked up the Celtic Thunder Christmas.

I want to make something perfectly clear for a moment. I wasn’t really too excited about the CD in the first place. I don’t share her enthusiasm for the Christmas tunes. I was just in a nice mood and let Karli have her fun.

All things aside, however, this CD sucks. Total waste of whatever it was we spent on it. It is neither Celtic nor thundering. It was more like watered-down lounge music to be played over a department store loudspeaker. Terrible. Awful. No good. Very bad. If that’s your thing, though, I think there might be a copy sitting on the shoulder of I-70 somewhere around Lecompton, KS.

I’ll close with a real thundering Celtic-like Christmas tune. Happy Festivus. Call me for the Feats of Strength. If you can pin me, you get the big slice of ham.

& shopping for that special soon-to-be-someone

Becoming an expert on parenting is probably the easiest thing ever. Here’s the process:

  1. Have a kid.

And that’s it. At least that’s what people who don’t have kids think. So it must be true. Occasionally we get asked by our non-parent friends about stuff. Especially when they have other pregnant friends about to have a shower and want to find a gift. They want our advice. Because we’re experts. Of course.

And of course, what we always tell them is to get something on the register. If it’s their first kid, chances are they didn’t know what the hell they were doing when they registered. They wandered the store with a dazed look on their faces, zapping everything that sounded vaguely useful with the presents gun*. They were clueless. Doesn’t matter. Get them something they asked for.

*Been there, done that.

Sometimes, though, people go and make their registries online and nothing they picked is available in the store and you waited till the day before the shower to shop and damn if you’re going to spend $78 for overnight shipping on a 2-pack of baby bottles. So what do you do?

Well, friend, I’m here to help you out. Or if you’ve found yourself carrying your first parasite and don’t know what to put on that registry, I’m here to help you out. Or, since it’s Christmas shopping season, I’m here to help you find a gift for that special rugrat in your life. This is a full-service blog for everyone. Tell your friends.

Over the past five-plus months, we actually have figured out a couple things about parenting. And we’ve come up with a few items to suggest to people that Squatch can’t live without. Enjoy.

ShowerGifts

Squatch’s Baby Gift Guide

I’ve tried including a range of things no matter your budget, and I even threw in a few to stay away from at the end.

Rock n Play Sleeper—This is the one thing we suggest to people the most. Squatch slept in it the first six weeks of his life. He still occasionally takes naps in it. He hangs out in it. It’s been an amazing life-saver. This is probably the smartest thing we included on our registry and definitely the greatest thing invented by God and bestowed upon mankind. Half swing, half bassinet, half rocking chair, all genius.

Target sells them for between $50-$60. They’re available other places, too.

SwaddlesAden & Anais Swaddle Blankets, Burp Cloths, and Security Blankets—They’re kinda pricey compared to other stuff, true. But they’re pretty cute for one thing. And they’re pretty handy for another. For instance, the blankets are nice and lightweight. Karli was extremely paranoid about Squatch smothering himself in the middle of the night, so she put every one of the blankets we got over her face to see if she could breathe through them. These were the only ones that passed her test, so Squatch has spent most of his life wrapped in one of these bad boys up to this point. The burp cloths are huge (and can handle a lot of baby puke), and they even have snaps on the back so they can double as a bib. The security blankets are Squatch’s favorite thing ever. But yeah—pricey.

Swaddle Blankets—$35 for a four-pack; Burp Cloths—$10 apiece; Security Blankets—$16 for a two-pack.
OrganizerKoala Baby Closet Organizer Set—Any brand is cool, really. We got this kind because it came with an over-the-door thingy, too, which has come in pretty handy. You can fit a whole lot of stuff into the closet with this stuff. If your friends and family are anything like ours, you’ll need that space. You’ll be amazed how quickly kids can go through clothes, bed sheets, blankets and everything else that can’t just be wiped down. Especially those first few weeks when you haven’t quite gotten the hang of diapering them. Don’t judge. It will happen to you.

Babies R Us has them for about $50. If you don’t get the whole set, individual parts are cheaper, obviously.

SwaddleMe Wraps—Holy crap, these things are infinitely easier than trying to wrap a blanket around a screaming, flailing poop machine. The SwaddleMe wraps were one of the keys to getting Squatch to sleep through the night. They’ve got velcro to keep the kid bundled up tight and there’s no guess work as to where things go. No need to be an origami genius or Chipotle employee to get them together. I can say, without irony or exaggeration, that all three of us have survived to now because of these.

They run between $12-$16 at Babies R Us. More than one is nice because—y’know—pee.

Books—All of them. Books are just awesome. Squatch has a ton now. And it’s still not enough. Infant books. Board books. Soft books. Bathtime books. Picture books. Chapter books. New books. Used books. Doesn’t matter. Books are good*.

*This paragraph brought to you by literacy. And five cups of coffee.

Prices vary. If you didn’t know that, it’s probably taken you about an hour-and-a-half to read this far because you’re five years old. Good for you, buddy. Keep going.

Homemade Stuff—It really is pretty nice to get things that you spent time working on yourself. Even if you suck at it. Really. Chances are, though, that if you’re sitting down to make something, you probably don’t suck at it. We’ve gotten a cool blanket from one of Karli’s law school friends and another that my mother-in-law knitted. We got quilts from different people and a play-blanket thing made from vintage clown cloth that’s pretty cool, despite my irrational fear of clowns. My cousin’s wife sent us some burp cloths she made that we’re almost too ashamed to use for their intended purpose because they’re so nice. Karli’s cousin made a sling for carrying him around in. We like them all. The personal touch is nice. Beware clothing, however. More on that later.

Price depends on what you’re making it out of. I don’t recommend diamonds or ivory. Unless you’re loaded.

Karli would also probably like me to mention BabySteals.com. She signed up for the emails and gets all kinds of helpful stuff sent to her inbox every day. Not all of it is crap that we’ll buy, but sometimes she finds a pretty good deal on cool stuff. You’re welcome, Internet.

In addition to several good ideas, there are also some things to stay away from. Some are because they’ll never get used, some are because they’ll be returned on the way home from the baby shower, and some are because you don’t want to drown them in 20 of the same dame thing.

Disclaimer: This applies to stuff NOT on the registry. If they have these things listed, it’s fair game. Get it. Otherwise, restrain yourself, genius.

That leads us to:

The Don’t List

Pacifiers—This may seem like a brilliant idea. Pacifiers, however, are the single most useless baby shower gift out there, even for parents who aren’t against their kids using them. Why, you ask? Well, we bought some for Squatch before he was born. They were adorable and wonderful and supposed to be good for their dental growth or whatever. He hates them. Won’t use them. He likes the brand that the people at the hospital stuck in his gob when he was a day old. Won’t use anything else. So all those other ones are worthless. Might as well have tossed the money out on the highway. We have friends whose kid only likes the kind you can stick your finger in. Every kid is different and you don’t know. Don’t fall into the pacifier trap.

Bottles—Pretty similar to pacifiers. If they didn’t register for it, don’t buy it.

Clothing—Clothing is tricky. If you don’t know the parents’ taste, chances are it’ll end up back at the store. If you don’t know the baby’s gender, you’re playing a guessing game with most stuff these days. On the one hand, it almost seems like you can never have enough clothes those first few months. On the other hand, that’s because a lot of the ugly clothes you got from well-meaning folks are things you dress the baby in if he looks like he’s about to blow. If you’re buying stuff for someone else’s baby, just do them a favor and skip the clothes section.

Toys—I know, I know. They’re fun. You want to get a fun gift. But really, you want to help the new parent out more, right? For the first several months, toys are just keeping the furniture from floating away. Squatch gets more joy out of his blanket than just about anything else. Babies don’t need a vast selection of toys to keep them entertained. One is probably fine. None is probably fine, too. If you want to buy toys, wait till the kid’s birthday.

Bath Stuff—Seriously, we got about 243 effing washcloths, 44 hooded towels, and 17 bottles of soap and shampoo. Most of it got taken back. It’s not that babies don’t need bath stuff. It’s that hopefully not all parents are cleaning the Baby Army* five times a day.

*Would that be the Infantry? Sorry, I couldn’t just let that sit there. I feel dirty.

This Thing—That voice will haunt my nightmares forever.

How about other parents out there? Any other suggestions that made your first few months easier? Anything that was a gift-giving disaster waiting to happen?