Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Case of the Decoy Remote

I hold baby Mikey sometimes while watching television. We watch stuff like "A Baby Story" or "The Office" together. My rascally little kid does his best to make this an interactive experience. He is absolutely obsessed with the remote control. If he so much as glimpses it, he will lunge, wiggle, and struggle until he has the prize in his little hands.

At this point all heck breaks loose. He starts squeezing buttons. The picture in picture window pops up. Then it gets larger and moves to a different corner as his little fingers hit still more random buttons. Strange and obscure menus suddenly open up, giving heretofore unknown tantalizing glimpses into features and functions of my cable box. Just as quickly, they disappear. Mikey continues grasping.

The channel changes then changes again. The display fills up with sevens, and the television jumps to a blank channel. Then, the remote goes right into his little teething mouth. His proto-teeth make little plasticky crunching noises as he chews away. A fine layer of baby slobber now coats the remote. The remote finally comes out of his mouth. With a big smile on his face, Mikey gives the remote a few languid shakes, then proceeds to drop it straight onto the hardwood floor. The back pops off, and the batteries roll out and away, never to be found.

This is clearly no way to watch television. Enter the decoy remote. Mikey gets an old remote without batteries to assault, and I get to keep watching Baby Story.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Something strange happens when baby Mad Dog takes a nap. An exothermic reaction begins and his temperature begins to rise. 

If you happen to be holding him, you too will begin to heat up. Any place he is touches will end up with a sweat spot. His hair ends up sweaty, matted, and crazy. He ends up looking like some tiny version of Doc from Back to the Future.

Yes, he is a sweat sleeper.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best Sex Ed Question Ever...

Has anyone ever died from puberty?

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Shocking Tale...

Early in our relationship, circa 2005, Shannon and I took a weekend getaway to Dallas. We were feeling nostalgic, so we travelled over to Fair Park to visit the Dallas Acquarium and the fabulous Science Place at the Museum of Nature & Science.

The Acquarium and Science Place were engineered as prime grade-school field trip destinations. Shannon and I probably went on a dozen field trips there. I remember many a lunch out by the lagoons of Fair Park. I had my yogurt, my soggy sandwich, and my soft drink carefully wrapped in aluminum foil. 

The highlight was always the Science Place. This was a hands-on, interactive museum that had obvious appeals to kids. 

So, many years later, Shannon and I returned to play with the exhibits. We had just barely made it in the door when we ran into the first exhibit. It was a good one.

Two giant plastic cylinders, about 6 feet apart pulsed and crackled with electricity or plasma or something. When I touched the glass, the electricity would dance harmlessly behind the glass, imparting only a slight hair-raising current. It was cool.

Fatefully, I noticed a sign between the two plasma tubes, "Caution: Do Not Touch Anyone Else While Touching the Plasma Tube!" You can probably guess where this is going. I placed one hand on the cylinder and gingerly extended my right hand toward poor, unsuspecting Shannon. At about one inch of separation, a blue spark suddenly arced out and snapped into her shoulder. It stung both of us, and she shouted out in surprise. It was funny, but there was some more fun to be had here.

"Shannon, let's try something. You put your hand on that cylinder and I'll touch this one. I'll reach out and touch you. " Ah, the hubris of youth. The nostalgia and playful vibe of the Science Place must have thrown our good sense out the window. 

As before, I reached out toward Shannon with my right hand. I expected the same little shock. I was wrong. 

My fingertip neared Shannon as before, but the result was quite different. I felt a sudden pulse of energy rush through my body from the tube. It travelled through my arm, into my shoulder, across my chest, and into Shannon. The massive shock seized my muscles. I involuntarily jumped into the air with a loud grunt and grimace. 

We had created a circuit between the two plasma tubes. The electricity rocketed between the tubes, using our bodies as a conduit.. The shock only lasted a few moments, but it left my chest aching and my ears ringing. Shannon was ok. We nervously laughed and backed away from the exhibit, sure that the museum staffer seated just a few feet away had witnessed our act of monumental idiocy. I thought we were about to be ejected from the museum for our own protection. I was just glad that my heart was still beating.

We were not ejected. The rest of the day was lovely, and we heeded every warning sign we came across. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Michael and I get ready for work and daycare together every day. I don my work clothes. He gets a diaper change and a fresh outfit for the day. I drink a cup of coffee and have a bowl of cereal while he guzzles a bottle.

I love the morning bottle routine. With Mikey playing in his Exersaucer, I prepare the recliner. I carefully place the pillow. My coffee and cereal are queued up on the end table within reach. I prepare a warm bottle and place that into position. Finally, just before I grab the little guy, I turn on the television and tune to The Learning Channel (ch. 35).

I should probably lose my man card for this. The show I tune into every morning during feeding time is "A Baby Story." Each 30 minute documentary episode follows a couple through pregnancy, birth, and finally, the early days at home with baby. I confess that I watch this show every morning before work with Mikey, and I love it.

The best part comes around the 22 minute mark of each show. when the baby is actually born. Every morning I watch that segment and relive the transcendentally crazy joyous moment when Michael suddenly appeared in the world, covered with goo with lower lip quivering through hearty screams. We wrap up with the final segment covering the new parents' early days at home. I look for signs of exhaustion. I mentally critique their parenting and their choices in name, baby clothes, and nursery decor.

It's a guilty pleasure, but there are much worse ways to spend half an hour before work!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Ah, mother's day. I remember mother's day as a little kid. Mom drove us to Eckerd's and gave us a few dollars for us to buy her a present. I think I bought her some ugly paperweight thing with a red, fake plastic plant in the middle. She loved it, of course. I think maybe some other time we made her breakfast in bed. After that, we always went out to eat for the day.

Over the years, the holiday evolved into more of a "kind of forget about it until your brother calls and reminds you to call mom, and you feel guilty" type of day. I love you mom, and I'll never forget that you brought me into this world. I'll never forget that you bought me my first car (a 1981 Isuzu I-Mark, white with red interior). 

Well, this year took on extra special significance. It is Shannon's first mother's day, so the pressure was on to do something special. We had a pretty nice day. It started with our friends Clay and Sarah coming to town with their precious little dude, Austin. Austin and Michael are pseudo-cousins, and we love for them to spend time together. We had some good food at Phil's Icehouse and we made a shopping pilgrimage to the flagship Whole Foods Market downtown. It was a good day. 

Mikey's 4th tooth made a sudden experience on Mother's Day. It broke through and caused our little guy a lot of pain and suffering. Shannon flexed her mommy-cred by keeping Michael happy through a tough day of teething. all in a day's work.

I learned several things for this Mother's day. First of all, I shall never again attempt to buy a Mother's Day card on the actual day. When I arrived at the store, the card section was a picked over and a crowd of dufuses like me was hovering over the terrible remnants. The remaining cards were beyond the bottom of the barrel. I was eying one, "Dear mom. We're sorry we put you in that home, but you know we love you, right? We'll try to visit you next year." Unfortunately, some other husband with a desperate, hunted look on his face snagged it. I left the store empty-handed. Hallmark would get no profits from me this year. My kindness and affection would be all the greeting card that Shannon would need (hopefully).

The other thing I learned is that the affection and gratitude toward moms does not have to be confined to just one day. It's a tough job, and I think every day should be a mother's day of sorts. To all the moms in my life, I love y'all and I hope you had a great day.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another Day, Another Pizza

I'm supposed to be eating healthier, but this was an offer too good to refuse. The text message came in from Chris (aka the Pizza Champ) at about 6:30 last night. "Preliminary Home Slice warning. Response requested" After a few quick phone calls, I was driving south into Austin for a free pizza at Home Slice.

We went a little oddball with the toppings, but the result was outstanding. One employee commented that the pizza smelled like Chinese food. That's a good thing.

The toppings: pepperoni, mushroom, onion, eggplant, fresh basil, and sliced pear. It was so good and so free. One night of pizza never hurt anyone. I may have also washed it down with a glass of wine. Red wine in moderation is linked to good heart health, so I was just taking care of my ticker. It was another great night in Austin.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Our formerly tiny, limp, 'better support his neck, little baby is changing fast. In the first 6 months, a trip to a restaurant was not a big deal. The only struggle was lugging his clunky carseat through a maze of tables and chairs. Mikey would stay buckled in his seat quietly watching us eat. That has all changed.

We headed down to the Hill Country Galleria to for some window shopping, and our little guy joined us for dinner at Iron Cactus. Thank goodness the ambient decibel levels were high, because Mikey was acting like his last bottle featured four ounces of espresso.

It started with slapping the table and laughing. Then he began swinging his plastic links like they were nunchuks. My silverware slid a bit too close into the grab zone, and in an instant my butter knife was being violently wielded and shaken in a tiny slobbery fist. This was just the beginning.
Then came the squeals, the piercing, piercing squeals. Like the screaming eels in Princess Bride, this was a forboding for troubles to come. Luckily, these were happy squeals, but they still cut through the din of a bustling restaurant. I could see the heads turning from surrounding tables. What could we do but laugh, blush, and try to shoosh our now thoroughly excited little dude?
It was time for a distraction and an alternative to eardrum-bursting outbursts. At this point, Mikey's chubby little cheeks are flushed red with happiness. He's giggling and kicking his feet, and his three lower teeth hold steady as part of never-ending grin. We hand him a rattle.
It was just like that Saturday Night Live skit with the cow bell, except this time the crazed musician is wielding a maraca. The rattling was more like a roar. Mikey mixed in a few table-shaking smacks with the hard plastic. I see a couple of heads turn. Some folks leaving the restaurant chuckle at us as they walk past our table. The rattle goes back in the bag.

This is an authentic action shot from the restaurant. Note the blur on the left. That is a rattle being shaken at supersonic speed.

Shannon and I are both laughing at this point. Our baby is embarassing us, but he's having so much fun that we are too. Normally a loud restaurant can be a bummer, but it saved us. We don't want to be those horrible people with the annoying kid at a restaurant.

Just when we think it can't get any better, the massive reserved table next to us is finally seated. It's 28 high-schoolers out for their senior prom. Mikey is now in full swing with belly laughs and giggles as we cover his head with a black cloth napkin. Every time the napkin uncovers his little eyes, he must be seeing the world created anew. And it must be freaking hilarious.

Seated next to these teens on our prom, our meal took on new import. I felt like the star of a public service announcement. "Hey kids, I know what some of you are probably planning. Take a good hard look at our table. Watch the little force of nature in his high chair. This could happen to you, and your trips to a restaurant will never, ever be the same. Don't say we didn't warn you."

With our public service and fajitas completed, we paid our check and carpetbagged our huge assortment of gear out the restaurant. The place got a little quieter and but also a little less joyful for our leaving.