Today Arlo blew the biggest bubble of snot from his nose I have ever seen. Instead of running for Kleenex, I ran for my camera (it was worthy, trust me). But as soon as I got back he gave me a quick smile and smeared it all over his face.
He’s been a little under the weather this month- mostly just a runny nose and a little congestion on some days. He can’t seem to kick it completely- I have succumbed to the idea that he will stay sick until the warm days come back.
Luckily (luckily?) we have a Nose Frida to help unplug his nose. What’s a Nose Frida? Well thanks for asking- A Nose Frida is device used for sucking out snot from a baby’s nose- powered by your own mouth- that’s right- it sucks- I mean you suck- well, I suck. Basically it’s a surgical tube about eighteen inches long with a removable filter at the end of it. At that end, you attach small hard plastic tube that is tapered to fit into the baby nostril. So you put it in his nose, and suck. It’s that simple- except for it’s not- because he hates it- don’t know why, but he hates it. So much so that it has become a game of sneaking up on him to suck his snot. Because he hates it. If he knows what you are up to he turns into “Arlo the Octopus on Meth”- limbs start flailing and his neck begins turning 195º back and forth at a rapid pace. His first words in life will most likely be expletives during one of these encounters. The kid’s got some fight in him.
Oh, are you still stuck on the gross aspect of it? I was the same way, trust me. When the Nose Frida was brand new and still in the box I remember looking at it and saying, “Yeah fucking right- that’s disgusting.” But now… Now I’m like “MY TURN KYLIE!” It’s basically exactly what hunting is like- and baby, it’s open season- I begin by making sure he is upwind and then I get real quiet and low- if he’s on the floor I approach in an army crawl with the mouthpiece in my mouth with the tube dragging at my side. The hard part is springing on him- I have to get both of his arms locked to his body with only one of my arms- leaving my head to pin his head to the floor or my shoulder- If I manage to do that then I have a 85% chance of lining up the Frida to his nostril and getting a clear suck. If I miss my opportunity, I have to pretend I was just playing around and sheepishly return to camp to regroup and debrief.
Sometimes it goes perfectly and there is a moment of pride when I’m walking to the sink to look at my bounty- sometimes it’s a good catch and I feel like I’ve done a good deed- meaning, he can breath happily again. But sometimes there’s not much in the tube and I have to wonder- What went wrong? Did I hit mostly septum? Do I try again? Or maybe he just doesn’t have much in there? Honestly, it’s a very thin line that I’m still learning to walk. I should have it figured out by the time he is fourteen.
OH! But here’s the grossest part, I think they make a Nose Frida for the bum hole.
Arlo’s first Thanksgiving happened a few days ago. We spent the afternoon at a friend’s house with lots of joyous people mixing, mingling, and drinking endless amounts of wine and keg beer. Arlo got passed around from person to person like a mid-value bottle of whiskey. At one point I looked over and he was being held by one our friends- a lovely millennial named Kale who was wearing a cowboy hat with a beautiful floral dress and a magnificent gold sequined jacket- his skin adorned with tattoos of a badminton racket, a shuttlecock, and a folded pocket knife. I can only hope that this will be the most traditional thanksgiving that Arlo ever has.
He did great with all the strangers and hoopla. He had a couple sad face breakdowns due to missed naps and wet diapers but all in all we were mostly just asked, “Is this kid always this chill?” He even disappeared into the kitchen where I heard he was dancing and wooing all the ladies. I, on the other hand, turned into the same shade of the couch and tried to camouflage myself into its pattern so no one would see me and try to make conversation. Call me anti-social but… well… that’s it, just call me anti-social.
Arlo, however, is becoming very social. He just talks and squawks all day long. Him and I go back and forth like we are having a conversation about the state of the nation. (it sounds pretty much the same as the ones they have on the television)
And he has started eating real food! I don’t know why I’m exclaiming this because it really just means two things:
It takes forever to feed him now. Not only am I still feeding him bottles, but then in-between we are trying to eat purees. He has had bananas, peas, sweet potatoes, lentils, carrots and this list goes on. Spoon feeding him is quite time consuming and messy. His face usually ends up looking like he slipped face-first into a pile of vomit.
And number two? It means his number twos stink- like human shit. Gone are the good ol’ days of wonderful cute breast milk poo poos that didn’t smell or make you want to open a window. Yup, that little thing has turned rotten and now makes his room smell like a dirty train station bathroom in Jerez, Spain. (Very specific and random comparison I know, but you’ve probably never seen the bathroom in the train station in Jerez)
So our days are filled with eating and stinking, going for walks and having lots of talks. He likes to stand and hold onto the windowsill and look out for what seems like hours (it’s really only minutes). We also practice sitting. He can sit on his own but he topples over sporadically and often so I stay close to catch his gigantic head. Speaking of gigantic I don’t even know how to describe the fat rolls this kid has now. I mean really, I thought they were big before but his rolls now seem to be redefining the the rules of human physiology. If you saw his arms you might think I put tight rubber bands up and down them.
Arlo will be seven months old on Tuesday. That means I’ve been a 3-day-a-week stay at home dad now for four months- holy crap! And let me tell you… it’s hard work. You know the movie Mr. Mom? You know how at the end of the day Michael Keaton finally gets the kids to bed and has a break and you feel absolutely exhausted for him? That’s me at the end of the day. And I only do it with one kid! Only three days a week! And so far he’s a pretty easy kid! I cannot- CANNOT imagine what this is like with two, three, four kids. I guess you just get used to it and figure it out?
I mean he’s only one kid, and he doesn’t even move on his own yet, he just sits around absorbing every little new thing. If we are looking out the window and a few leaves flutter, it’s absolutely amazing to him. He can stare at the dog and smile forever. The whisk and spatula that we play with everyday, are amazing and new everyday. It’s like I’m taking care of someone who dropped a massive amount of psilocybin mushrooms- I don’t care to stare at the wood grain on the windowsill, but I know how mind-blowing it must look to him- so I don’t pull him away because I don’t want him to have a bad trip.
It’s like this kid lives at a Phish concert. He just sits around and stares while his mouth makes unintelligible sounds and drools onto his food stained shirt. The music that we listen to is as repetitive as a Phish song- it just keeps going on and on. These songs are supposed to be good for his developing brain, but they turn mine to mush- and they get stuck deep in my head. If you come visit me at the bar and watch me make some cocktails chances are I have this song stuck in my head and I’m shaking to it…
I like to aete, aete, aete, aepples & baenanenaes,
I like to eat, eat, eat, epples & benenees
I like to oat, oat, oat, opples & bononos
As hard and mind-numbing bringing this kid up is, it is very rewarding- and I love it. I love seeing him in his crib when he wakes up in the morning- all wide eyed and ready for the day. I love to watch his arms flap with excitement over something as simple as a spatula. I love that right now I am sitting on the floor in the hallway watching him be by himself in a room laying on a yoga mat- and he’s just squealing and squawking away for no other reason other than he likes the way it sounds. I am profoundly grateful that I have a work schedule that allows me to stay at home and facilitate his introduction to the world. I get to show him what my version of the world is and what his can be- and as you can probably tell by this blog- it’s pretty damn weird. Oh crap, he just saw me- gotta go…
At 7:30 this morning I was woken up by a gibbering six month old ready to get his day started. I had went to bed five hours prior, so I did what any other self loving parent would do- I ignored him. Luckily, he talked himself back to sleep and we started the day together at 8:45- which is more my style.
Last week we realized the little Bub had been playing us. We came to the realization that he was almost always falling asleep on one of us before being put down. Sure it’s endearing, but we were afraid we were creating a little sleep monster, destined to be held by one of us for the sake of falling asleep until adolescence- so we decided to nip the little Bub in his little bud.
Along with a more defined bedtime/naptime routine we decided to trade out his cradling bassinet for a flat mattress. Those are two pretty big changes in his life to try at once- he would still be sleeping next to our bed however, and we would all endure what was about to happen.
Well, nothing much really happened, sorry to say. We let him cry alone in his bed, and after about fifteen minutes, he was asleep… for thirteen hours. The next night for twelve. And again the following night for twelve. Night four he woke up once to change his wet diaper and have a bite, and the nights after that have become a blur of waking up sometimes once, sometimes not at all. Lately he just talks or peeps randomly throughout the night, and then falls back to sleep. We’ve been pretty lucky so far.
I attribute the good sleep to his new flat mattress- he likes to kick around and move like he’s having his own horizontal dance party. All night I hear the swish-swooshing of his legs flailing about. It’s quite distracting really. I know, poor me, my baby’s sleep distracts me. I came in from work one night and opened the door to his legs straight up in the air and him bringing them down forcefully against the mattress over and over again. In the shadows of the nightlight he reminded me of the creepy girl from The Exorcist. I don’t know if one should count that as sleep, but since he’s not crying, I will most certainly count it as sleep.
Speaking of leg lifts, the fact that Arlo can lift his legs up to a 90º angle is quite a feat. They are meaty! Let’s just say Arlo is a very healthy baby with thighs so big they have their own thighs. He also has upper and lower cheeks on each side of his face. His real chin sits between his lower cheeks, but is a mere dimple compared to his second chin that hides the entirety of his neck. It’s not just my observations mind you, Kylie confided in my that she was afraid his fingers were going to spontaneously explode they seemed so swollen.
But hey, we love him, even with that hair. His skullet has fallen away. For about a week he was completely bald with the exception of about 19 wispy long hairs that danced on top of his head like they were advertising used cars on an old dirt lot. Now those 19 dancers wave about surrounded by an ultra thin carpet of downy hair. His most prominent hair feature are his eyebrows. They are dark, usually angry looking, and much of the time seem to be not two, but one single brow traversing across his face like a drunk caterpillar.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking, Say something cute about him- he’s your son. Well I’m just afraid of becoming that parent that gushes over his child when everyone else thinks he is a hideous monster. I’ve expressed that sentiment before. I mean, who goes around telling a parent the truth, that their child looks like a brown naked mole rat? So I prefer to be safe, and point out what seems to be apparent. Honestly though, I’m sure there are some cute things about him… I know one for sure- his favorite toy is a whisk. That’s cute!
Arlo is a half a year old today. Happy half birthday Bub! Maybe your Papa will go out and buy you a brand new whisk! The little Bub is growing up so fast I’m going to be forty before I know it.
Aw shit! I turned forty years old last month! Seriously, I did. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. I know it shouldn’t, but forty… my god. Everyday I think about how much of Arlo’s life I might not be around for- I mean I’m having an honest to god midlife crisis right now. I dwell on this thought and get sad.
I was talking to a guy at the bar last night, he seemed to be about sixty years old- He was telling me how his son is thirty-three, and also his best friend. He was saying how fun kids are when they are as young as Arlo, but now he and his son will go have a beer together and catch up. I told him that sounds great, but when Arlo is thirty-three I’ll be seventy-three, that might not work out so well for me. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Dude, I’m seventy-three.”
Our conversation coupled with his surprising (youthfulness) made me feel a little better about being an older father. I’ve joked with Kylie before that I wanted to make my own best friend- and hopefully I have- and maybe I’ll be around to hang out with Arlo a longer than I thought- if I don’t do something stupid. Since turning forty and dealing with these thoughts, I’ve also had a sort of “enforced epiphany” if you will. I’ve come to the realization that whatever choice I make for myself, it’s not just for myself- Arlo is ultimately affected too. Meaning, if I cross the street without looking both ways, it doesn’t matter if he is at home with Kylie that moment, because if I get hit by a bus, he will bear the effects for the rest of his life.
Or how about a lighter example- Let’s say I decide to eat two bags of chips everyday- I’m not talking little fun-size Frito-Lay bags- I’m talking full flavor kettle cooked Cape Cod Dark Russet potato chips- Two bags everyday (that would be a dream)- I’m not even sharing them with Arlo- But he would be affected by the consequences of my actions- His friends would make fun of him for having a fat greasy father (who would probably be living alone in a van down by the river because his wife kicked him out for being disgusting)- which adds another consequence to Arlo’s life because of my action- he would grow up in a single parent home.
Really, a single parent home, all because I like to eat chips. Poor Arlo.
(as of right now- I haven’t posted this yet, but it seems appropriate use of red lettering and exclamation marks)
In honor of Arlo’s Half Year Birthday we just fed him his first solid(ish) food! Kylie has been talking about wanting to feed Arlo some avocado for months. Well, it just happened ten minutes ago… and he showed that avocado who was boss!
The little guy is sleeping right now- sleeping off his immunization shots. This round affected him quite a bit. He got feverish and he just wanted to be held by his mama. She held him pretty much all day yesterday, and he just kinda groaned and moaned. He was a sad little bundle.
He had his four month check-up a couple days ago. Unfortunately, the timing fell right in the middle of his nap time. I planned our departure down to the minute to maximize his sleeping so I could show up on time with a happy baby… and it almost worked. I had a snack’s worth of a bottle ready, his outfit laid out, and his diaper bag packed. I woke him up gently, changed him, gave him some bottle. Good to go- I set him down in his carseat and strapped him in. I congratulated myself at being the best dad ever and put my sunglasses on like a boss. And then I heard the rumble. It was soft at first, but then built into a cacophony of squirts and runny bubbles only a dad could love. I looked down at him and our eyes met. I shook my head in disbelief at him and he held his stone cold gaze at me, “That’s for waking me up from my nap, asshole.”
We ended up at the pediatrician’s office about five minutes late- but I didn’t really care- they make us wait around half of the time we spend there anyway. Arlo weighed in at 14lbs, 5oz, and he’s 2ft tall. The doc poked, prodded, pulled on him. As she was doing this I noticed an odd bulge about the size of a golf ball on his shoulder. I panicked and thought to myself maybe I had dislocated his shoulder somehow being too rough with him or picking him up too aggressively. I gently poked it and realized it was just a bump of fat sitting there at a funny angle- an impressive bump of fat mind you. Whew!
The doc said for his age and prematurity he is far ahead of where he could be. He shows up on the charts of full term babies now. She was impressed at how much more social he had become in the two months since she last saw him. She also said he was very strong. At that comment I dug deep and found my thickest Russian accent and proclaimed, “Strong like Bull.” She looked at me quizzically- and Arlo blushed with embarrassment.
The doctor answered my list of first time parenting questions without being annoyed- When can we start feeding him food? When can I take him to a public pool? Do you think his hair looks funny or is it just me? Is okay for him to live his life sounding like a pug? Why does he look Inuit? Should we expect him to roll over soon? Anyway, she was great about it and encouraged me to get in touch (with her nurse) with any more questions. Doc finished up and left and then came the nurse. She’s super nice too but I’m not sure Arlo likes her much anymore. Two shots, one on each fat thigh. When he got his last shots, Arlo was only two months old and his lungs were the size of a two week old. His cries were almost cute then. Not this time though. The kid can howl now. It was sad and hurt me to watch him through the process- but he’ll never remember it, and besides, he resumed his nap before we even left the building.
Arlo is over four months old now. Time has become a warp. The days and weeks since he’s been around seem to go by so fast, and so slow. It seems he is not changing one bit, but then every day there seems to be something new- I don’t know how to describe it. Today I was holding him in my arms while I was feeding him and I imagined him running by me through the kitchen to go out and play in the backyard. Then I imagined him walking back through to leave out the front door- this time he had a deep voice and said he was on his way to school. I looked at the Arlo in my arms as he sucked on his bottle and then glanced at my liquor cabinet and realized it’s probably not too soon to fashion a lock for it.
He has changed a lot though. He loves to smile and play. I pull him up to a sitting position, and then a standing one. He giggles. He’s enthralled by pictures in whatever book I am reading to him- he likes to listen to stories that rhyme. I just realized today that his head is held by it’s own muscles now and I don’t have to worry about it’s fragility too much. I don’t even know when that happened (part of the time warp). He talks garbled nonsense like a drunk sorority girl not caring if there is an audience or not. I talk back to him and we have pleasant conversations about the state of the White House and I teach him how to enunciate the word anonymous.
We took him camping last week for his first time. He loved it. He just seems to like being outside. He spent his time looking at the trees and gazing out across the lake watching his mama on the paddle board. His girlfriend Peyton gave him her old lavender fleece onesie that he wore while it was cold. I gave him a bottle of whiskey to carry around so he could camp like his papa. He slept in the back of the truck with us like he was born to do it (and he was).
We also got rid of his scaly cradle cap- but with the disappearance of it we found that it acted as a shadow of hair. I mean, it was Arlo’s version of spray-on hair. Meaning, the kid has lost most of his hair and now he’s bald. We didn’t really notice it until the cradle cap shadow disappeared. He does have some thick hair though, but only from ear to ear swinging around the back of his neck. He’s got a skullet (skull mullet) like an old man, or like those unfortunate photos of Brittany Spears in crisis.
(He also has beautiful lashes like her’s)
I texted a photo of him today to his Grandma Coral. She said, “Great smile! Where’s the hair??”
I don’t have one- and that’s all he wants today. There has been a lot of crying today. It didn’t start out that way. I had today by the balls. I was awake at 8:30am and Arlo was still asleep. I decided to get up and brush my teeth and make my coffee- and I did- all before he woke up- that’s a huge win right there. I decided to push my luck farther- I set up a sprinkler in both the front and back yard. And then? Yeah, there’s more- then I fixed a mobile (not phone), a paper and monofilament mobile that I got tangled in and broke last week. I had a real dad morning today- almost one like Peter, my neighbor, who has two kids and does yard work in the six o’clock hour. I wrote about him in Routine before I was a dad.
But… then… Arlo… woke… up.
It was a wake-up like any other morning. I started hearing some mouth noises and movement so I went and picked him up, got him out of his swaddle sleep sack, changed his diaper, and started warming water for his bottle. He seemed happy. He smiled- I would like to think. Birds were chirping and the sun was shining- and then I tried to feed him.
It was like any other time- I thought. I put the nipple in his mouth and he kinda gummed it a little and then spit it out. Again, I tried, again he refused. This happened a couple more times until he grabbed it with his gummies and tried biting the thing in half like a dog shakes its toy. Then his face smooshed and turned red and the cries begun. There wasn’t any “easing into it”- he just flat out busted out cries like it was the worst day of his life so far (maybe it was going to be).
This has happened before. Arlo started getting real icky about the bottle a month ago- right before Kylie was going back to work. Him and I hung out one Sunday morning and had what I like to call, a bottle boot camp. For an entire morning he cried at me, I cried at him, we cried at each other- and I think Kylie cried just from listening to us cry. He finally took the bottle at around noon that day, and everything has been fine since- I thought.
Today’s bottle boot camp has lasted the entire day. Wait wait wait! He has eaten today, just not his normal amount. That first bottle this morning? He cried himself to sleep in my arms after refusing the bottle for about an hour. I then tricked him into eating a bit while he slept- I think he dreamt ate- but only about an ounce. I figured he was going to be starving when he woke up so I had a larger than normal bottle on deck. Again, crying and screaming and some kicking- I had to shut the back door in fear of what the neighbors would think. Can’t let that Peter think I don’t have a handle on this guy.
I found Arlo an odd sight today while he cried. He has a huge bottom lip that seems to expand to unimaginable proportions when he’s angry. He also has a case of cradle cap that is wildly visible under his thinning hair- it basically looks like scaly skin- it’s normal for some babies, I think. He also seemed to have some accumulated weird baby dirt between his fingers and under his nails. I think we would all agree that nobody’s face is pretty when they cry- and that goes for him too. Let’s just say he wasn’t the most pleasant thing to look at today.
That second bottle? He didn’t touch it. Four ounces of hard earned breastmilk down the drain. During that bout he did quiet down though- for about two minutes. I think he was trying a new strategy to get the boob. He started making these really long but quiet mouse squeak sounds. They sounded like when you pinch a balloon out on two sides and let the air out slowly- you know that sound? That’s what he sounded like- he actually deserved the boob for that. Wily little guy.
What’s that? I should try a different bottle? I done did that before the original bottle boot camp. I tried out a few different bottles and nipples with him. Then Kylie talked to a few of her mom friends and some said they had the same problem- that some babies just prefer the boob over the bottle, and some will make it known. Arlo decided to make it known today.
The rest of the day has been kind of a blur. I know there have been two more bottle attempts since the first two. I think the third went okay- he ate most of it in between fits of anger- I thought I broke him- but I didn’t- he only ate an ounce of the fourth bottle. Stubborn little squirrel!
Uh oh. I’ve been wearing him on my chest while I’ve been writing this. He’s been asleep but he just woke up and he’s rooting around for boob- standby…
Whew, close one. He started crying real bad so I started getting his last bottle together- but then he fell back asleep- so let’s finish this, shall we…
The day hasn’t actually been all bad. He’s had some happy times- he smiled a lot today- we played games, read books, and went to the grocery store where he stayed awake looking around the entire time. I even got dinner together somehow- New Mexican green chile enchilada casserole (show off). It’s all ready to be put in the oven when Kylie gets home and resigns herself as Arlo’s food supply for the rest of the evening. Not joking either. On days she works Arlo knows it and misses her. When she gets home, she’s all he wants. Me too for that matter.
Somehow I kept my cool today and his crying didn’t really even bother me- like not at all. Sure, I felt bad for the little booger but I never got angry at him. But I’m realizing this parenting thing can be hard sometimes. It’s not all peanut M & Ms and gummy bears. It is fun for me to remember what I was like before I was a dad. I used to say things like,
“It’s just a baby, how hard can it be?”
“All you do is feed it, change it, and let it sleep, right?”
“I am going to have so much time when I’m a stay at home dad.”
and my favorite…
“I hope we have twins!”
Wow, ignorance is bliss, and I am the boob. I wish I could travel back in time and meet that guy while he was saying some of those things. I wouldn’t even say anything to him. I’d probably wait till he was mid-sentence… then I’d punch him in his throat.