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Photo Diary August 2015 Part 1

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 101 Featuring Geof Grubb

pop poppa nap cast logoOn the 101st episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast, I’m joined by my longtime friend and internet superstar Geof Grubb. You can check out his Reddit (I don’t really know what that means) here and also the Instagram account he set up for the patches he draws on for his daughter Layla every day here. In the episode we talk about everything from being stay-at-home dads to the joys of spending some mindless decompression time with video games.

There aren’t much in the way of show notes this time around, so I’ll embarrass both of us by posting this picture of Geof and I from high school. This is us before prom our senior year. I cut out the ladies because I haven’t seen them in over a decade.

geof and me prom senior year

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 99

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The crazy-delayed 99th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast is finally here, even though it was recorded nearly a month ago! Just push play to hear about surviving a sick house, going “down the Shore,” one crazy night and my first official comic book pitch!

The comic shop I mentioned visiting is called October Country. It’s in New Paltz and it’s rad.

lavalletteThis is what Lavallette, NJ looks like. It was pretty great, I’d definitely go back.

mermin 004I mentioned looking up the Oni site for a review I wrote for a great comic called Mermin. Check that out here and my take on the next two books here.

I’m not sure when I’ll be back for the next episode, but I’ve got a few fun things planned to celebrate the hundredth episode! Stay tuned!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 98

pop poppa nap cast logoGood golly it’s been a long time since I did one of these! The 98th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast features some stuff I recorded back in April and then follows it up with an update from this week! It’s not a complete update, but you’ll get the deets on both kids’ birthday parties, the swingset construction and more!

kite day

Guys, first off, Kite Day was more fun than I expected. Kites are rad, even cheapo ones from the drug store (just don’t get those crazy-long tails tangled up).

crawfishSpeaking of rad, crawfish parties are in that same category. I really miss hanging out with my friends, so these get-togethers are super important to me.

Both the Princess Power Barbie doll and DVD get the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval from this guy!

Charlie-and-Lola_0I talked about the Charlie & Lola cartoons back in PPNC #84, but here’s a look at the artwork I mentioned.

Charlie and Lola art sample

Birthdays! Cakes make kids even cuter. It’s a law of nature.

lu's partyHere‘s the list of tips I came up with for throwing a solid pre-schooler birthday party. It’s pretty much the best thing you’ll read all day.

organized garage

And finally, behold the glory of a more organized garage!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 97

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 97 reflects back on a year of Jack, his many developments in recent weeks and our struggles to get our daughter to sleep in her own bed.

If you want to listen to the episode I recorded after Jack was born a year ago, you can find it here. I also chronicled the events in the Photo Diaries from that month.

sign for moreHere’s me doing the sign for “more.”

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 96

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 96 covers my new job writing for Geek.com, my better mood thanks to the weather and how I hope that leads to better times with my kids this summer!

october country basement

If you’re in the Orange County area and like comics, do yourself a favor and check out October Country in New Paltz.

I wrote about fried-egg-coverd BLTs in this post, which you should absolutely check out. Fried eggs also played into Feed Me Phoebe’s excellent Mexican Sweet Potato Hash with Black Beans and Spinach and Smitten Kitchen’s fantastic Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Eggs.

cinci chili dog

Finally, the two StaceyMakesCents posts I mentioned about Cincinnati Chili and magnesium lotion can be found here and here. Also, feast your eyes on this rad-looking dog.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 94

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 94 covers some recent changes in my work schedule, the end of a terrible month, lots of comics and movies and a few tips about teaching your baby sign language.

Here’s the Fluttershy Lu got along with the Horror Classic Funko Mystery Minis Jason Vinyl Figure I scored.

astro city through open doorsMeanwhile, if you want to check out Astro City, I highly recommend going to the beginning with Life in the Big City, but you can also pick up the book I just did called Through Open Doors. The Spider-Man issue I mentioned is actually Web of Spider-Man #81 and I reviewed it over on UnitedMonkee.com.

deerDeer aren’t all bad…I guess.

big hero six blu-rayTo see the Frozen elements in Big Hero 6, head on over here.

Keep your eyes peeled on UM for a more formal review of Cronos. But, I did review Pacific Rim and The Strain, if you’re interested.

The two kids comics I mentioned are The Clouds Above and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business.

I called Aunt May Peter Parker’s grandma. Obviously this is a huge geek goof. It’s clearly his aunt. Please forgive me oh wrathful geek gods.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 93

pop poppa nap cast logo The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 93 is a short one covering the crumminess of February and the greatness of Disney’s Miles From Tomorrowland.

my little pony friendship is magic adventures of the cutie mark crusaders

My review of *deep breath* My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Adventures Of The Cutie Mark Crusaders can be found here. *whew*

Miles from tomorrowland

Miles From Tomorrowland is on the Disney channels all the time, but you can also give it a look on Watch Disney Junior.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 79

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 79 covers Jack’s continued teething problems, Lu’s new school friend and me sharing my thoughts on the #HeForShe campaign.

Most of the horror movies I mentioned seeing were done during kiddo nap time, though a few were watched after everyone went to bed. If you only see one newer scary movie this year, make it Resolution!

The book I mentioned really enjoying on my phone is R.L. Stein’s Red Rain. Great stuff so far.

Little-Princess-post

There’s just something about Little Princess that gets under my skin. Lu loves it though. sleeping beauty diamond edition

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition is fantastic. Pre-order a copy or just wait until it hits stores next week on Oct. 7th.

Here’s a video of Emma Watson’s UN speech as well as the blog post supporting stay at home dads by Aaron Gouveia over at Time.com. And, for a funnier view on the whole thing, read Dead and Buried’s “Just Say No To Parenting Equality.”

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 75

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Late as it may be, the 75th episode of the Pop Poppa Nap Cast praises DVD projectors, chronicles a trip to the flea market and more!

A note to listeners before jumping in, I recorded this episode last Wednesday, but the editing process got away from me, hence the lateness. Looking forward, I’m most likely going to switch up the posting schedule for the podcast. I’m just running into so many roadblocks when it comes to posting halfway through the week on Wednesdays. I’m thinking it might make sense to record throughout the week and give myself until Friday to get the show up and ready. That being said, I’m hoping to double-ship this week and hope to have another episode up by this Friday at 3:00PM. Wish me luck!

Epson MovieMate 62

The projector we use is the Epson MovieMate 62. It’s pretty great.

Check out Stormville if you live in the area!

As this posts, Lu is on her way back from her first sorta-first day of school, which I will talk about in Friday’s episode.

The-League-Season-5-on-FXX

The League is fantastic. Check it out on Netflix or FXX!

Heh, I already stopped using that nap spreadsheet.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 74

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 74 recaps the last two weeks, including our trip to New Hampshire (Jack’s first long car ride), a solid house update and a special appearance from this week’s co-host, Lucy.

I should note that when I said I was thinking of going to the store on Tuesday, I said “alone,” but meant “with the kids.”

If you’re in the area, keep an eye out for Tumblebus.

toy story of terror bluray

If you missed out on my Toy Story of Terror story, check it out here.

As you heard, Lu’s a big fan of Pinky Dinky Doo and Harry & His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs. We’ve been watching them on Netflix, but you can also follow those links for some Amazon offerings.

tomboy by liz prince

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince is fantastic. A funny, witty, clever and emotional personal story that I think all parents should read. It gives an interesting look behind the curtain of a young woman dealing with gender issues.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 70

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 70 is pretty scattered thanks to Jack’s repeated interupptions, but I do talk about not getting the house we were looking at, our continued search and a few things about this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. My apologies for changes in tone and voice, plus all the ums and uhhhs.

The phone interview I mentioned doing last week was for this story posted on CBR about the cool new Mondo toys!

Marvel_Premiere_15-01

If you’re interested in bidding on Iron Fist’s first appearance or lots of Iron Fist and/or Power Man & Iron Fist, go check out my ebay auctions.

The park we hit up in PA is called Firefly Field. It’s worth checking out if you have kids.

lu and lisa

If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and check out Dutchess Marketplace in Fishkill, NY! Here’s Lu and her new, old Lisa Simpson doll.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 62

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Not only does the 62nd episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast recount our Memorial Day weekend woes, but also lays out the groundwork for Lu’s new mastery of the potty and a brand new intro.

baby bjorn smart potty

The potty we use is the white BABYBJORN Smart Potty.

Go, Girl! Go Potty!, The Potty Book for Girls, Elmo’s Potty Time and Nina Needs To Go on Disney Channel have all helped our daughter figure out what this whole potty training thing is about.

I wrote about my first time using the Lost It! app over on Monkeying Around The Kitchen last year.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 61

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 61 covers Jack’s first cold, the ups and downs of potty training and our switch from reusable cloth diapers to disposables for the time being. This one’s a bit scatterbrained because Jack was sitting next to me and not the best co-host.

nosefrida

If you’re interested in checking out the NoseFrida, you can head to their website or grab one on Amazon via this link. I thought it was the silliest thing around when we first got it, but it works like a charm.cloth diaper rolled and half unfolded

I went into more detail about what the reusable newborn diapers are like in a post from a few years back.

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises gets more interesting, right?

A few of the toys we grabbed from storage include the Skwish, Sophie and a variety of rattles.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 59

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The 59th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast gives a general Jack update, details Lu’s birthday and also a daddy-daughter day co-opted by other kids!

lu birthday hot wheels track

If you’re at all interested in checking out any of the gifts I mentioned when talking about Lu’s birthday they are as follows: Melissa & Doug Cutting FoodHot Wheels Mega Jump Track Set and Melissa & Doug Stacking Train.

Here’s the bubble-related video from Knocked Up, it’s a bit NSFW language-wise.

Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew ran for 20 issues between 1982 and 1983. DC collected a few of the issues in Captain Carrot and the Final Ark, but they’re collecting the whole thing in an upcoming black and white volume called Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew TP.

Captain Carrot Zoo Crew

And finally, here’s the video go Lucy meeting Jack for the first time.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 58

pop poppa nap cast logoMy apologies once again for the lateness of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 58, but our little dude has been taking up a lot of our time. Plus, who wants to cut a podcast when you could be holding your new kiddo? Still, this one covers Jack’s homecoming, his first meeting with Lu and a few more odds and ends from last week.

lu and jack at home

I haven’t posted the video of Lu meeting Jack yet or even gotten it off the camera yet, but I’ll keep you posted. Here’s a picture, though!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 57

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 57 gives a good deal of Jack updates, including an estimated time of arrival her at home, discusses Lu’s improving sleep habits and my recent trip to Michigan for a wedding. Please excuse the heavy breathing, uhs and drawn out words.

The food thing I mentioned in the episode is called Meal Baby. We super appreciate if you can help out.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 56

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 56 is coming at you a few days late, but it does get into some of the day to day details of dealing with a little dude in the NICU and our early attempts at altering Lu’s sleeping habits which did not go so well.

bitty baby and me

Here’s the Bitty Baby and Me book I mentioned. It’s not actually a good story, but it’s worth having just for that “taking a rest” idea which Lu has gotten a lot more used to since I recorded this episode.

A few quick updates: Jack’s putting on great weight, Lu’s sleeping better and the wedding was great, but more on that next episode which will hopefully be on time!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 54

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 54 promotes smoothy consumption, interacting with humans you are not related to and  the benefits of regular work. Meanwhile, Caillou continues to rule my kid’s brain.

safari potato head

Above you can see the delight that is the giant Mr. Potato Head.

Hot Wheels Mega Jump Track Set

And here’s the Hot Wheels ramp I was talking about. It’s called Hot Wheels Mega Jump Track Set. I’m stoked to get my cars here and show her the whole set-up.gamera

If you’re unfamiliar with Gamera, this is him. Or is it a her? I have no idea. It’s a flying turtle. I’ll have post called Daddy Daughter Movie Mania up with a specifica review about this and the 60s Batman movie.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 53

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 53 runs down our recent trip to the playground, the end of car troubles and the million and one things that have been making me crazy lately. Fun stuff!

Not much in the way of notes this time around, just me talking about myself.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 51

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The 51st episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast not only features my midnight DJ voice, but also talk of a parental visit, fixing reusable diapers and doing chores like a maniac.

You’ll probably be able to tell, but I recorded this one on the kitchen table while Lu napped and got visited by the cat several times. My apologies for that and the ridiculous number of stutters and “likes” this episode.

If you missed my 10 Big Questions About The Toy Story Mythos, check it out now.

Regarding the episode of Totally Mommy I mentioned, it’s episode #8. You can follow this link to listen to the episode and then check out the comments. The topic actually came up when a listener asked about how they can bring up gun safety with their upcoming baby’s grandparents around the 56 minute mark. Laime commented by way of saying that parents have the rights to set up whatever kind of boundaries they want, no matter how “extreme.” She said, “Andy and I have talked about the idea of not letting our kids be around a man alone who’s not Andy ever whether it’s our father-in-law, family, whatever. It’s not to say we don’t trust and love the people around us, that’s a choice that we’re discussing and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” She then reiterated that parents can and should set whatever boundaries they feel are best to keep their kids safe.

When I talked about this in the episode, I misremembered and thought Laime said that she and her husband were definitely following this rule of thumb, so my apologies for getting that part wrong.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 44

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If you were looking for updates on my car problems, our house hunt and baby movement, then the 44th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast is for you!

The Colosseum is in Salem, NH. Go there. It’s fantastic.

If my story about a bad job interview that I was completely unqualified for didn’t bore you to tears, you can hear me talk about another weird interview, plus my career at Wizard in the episode of Matt & Brett Love Comics I was on.

You can either scroll down to check out my Despicable Me 2 review below or click this link.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 43

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In the 43rd episode of the Pop Poppa Nap Cast you find out the sex of our new baby, hear me talk about how different the second pregnancy is over the first and the eternal problem of finding a good boy name.

little baby boy

Here’s the little guy in the flesh!

The TED Talk I mentioned in this episode was originally mentioned back on Episode 39. Follow that link to get the full video.

lu's sleep reward sticker chart

Above you can see Lu’s sleeping-in-her-own-bed sticker chart.

clean living room

Here’s what the newly organized living room looked like. I feel the most like Batman when cleaning this room. I know I won’t stop the mess forever, but I can at least make a different tonight. Just like the Dark Knight when it comes to criminals.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 22

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It’s another roller coaster of emotions on this week’s Pop Poppa Nap Cast as I recount taking Lu to day care so I could interview Stan Lee, some of the things that have been bumming me out lately and then ending with Lu’s newly converted big girl bed.

You can read how my Stan Lee interview went over on CBR.

Here‘s the post I wrote about the cool new Mickey Mouse cartoons.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 20

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“Frustrating” is the word of the day when it comes to The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 20 thanks to a disinterest in swim class, even less in potty training and a strong desire to wake up at 7AM every morning.

The swimmie thing I mentioned is actually the Stearns Deluxe Puddle Jumper 30-50 lbs. Unlike the one pictured in that link, Lu’s has a zebra on it.

Get your own copy of the Wreck-It Ralph (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) and/or Meet the Robinsons [Blu-ray] by following that links.

Before I started watching it several times a week, I reviewed Toy Story 3 on UnitedMonkee.com.

Mommy's Helper Contoured Cushie Step Up

Lu’s potty seat is more known as the Mommy’s Helper Contoured Cushie Step Up.

copco bag cap

The recipient of this week’s Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval is more specifically called the Copco 0-62009 Medium Bag Cap – Orange.

idris elba pacific rim

The Pop Poppa Of The Week is Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentacost from Pacific Rim pictured above. To read my full review of the film, head on over to UnitedMonkee.com.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 20

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 15

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A busy week packed with a family trip down to New York City and a parent-only journey to Long Island for a wedding makes for a travel-packed episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast.

I wrote about my wife’s hospital stay in my Photo Diary posts last November, you can read them here, here, here, here, here and here.

If you’re in New York City and have a few hours to kill you can do a lot worse than the Central Park Zoo. And that’s coming from someone who’s not a fan of the form.

I wrote about my love of Batman Returns over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee.

A look back at Lu’s previous Disney-based petting zoo experience .

This week’s Pop Poppa Seal of Approval recipient, Aqueduck Faucet Extender, Aqua can be purchased through the previous link.

I write for Comic Book Resources and Spinoff Online  and also run UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com and am on Twitter @PoppaDietsch.

Testing Out A New Nap Method

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only constant in parenting is change. Just when you think you’ve got something figured out, your kid will flip the script and you’ll have to re-learn her habits all over again. That’s just the way it is and I’m guessing it’s because, as little sponges, they’re always learning new things and new ways to do things and want to try them out. I’m okay with that, even if it can be difficult to accept some times (like when she went from sleeping in to waking up at 6:30AM again).

While I was away this weekend, my wife started trying out a new way of putting Lu down for a nap. It was partially born out of necesity and partially out of Lu getting older and being a little more mature. Historically, I’d hold Lu and jiggle her on my lap or knee until I lulled her to sleep. We tried the “put her in her crib and let her cry it out” way a few times, but she just got so upset and I’m convinced that unleashing that kind of torment on your child doesn’t do them or you any good. I mean, they’re having the kind of physical reaction that it seems like I would have if an angry bear appeared in my house and I couldn’t get out. Would you want to feel like that every single day? I guess you’d get used to it, but what kind of damage is done getting to that point?

Anyway, the jiggle method worked for me, but every time my wife tries it, Lu wants to nurse. So, while I was gone, she tried something relatively new: she put Lu down in her crib and laid down next to it, just letting her fall asleep on her own. And, as the text messages I got throughout the weekend indicated, it took less and less time each day. Mission accomplished!
Mostly.

How is this different than what I mentioned above? Well, she’s older now and doesn’t think that she’s been abandoned just because she can’t see us. She can also signal now when she’s tired, which means I have a much better idea instead of trying guess or just nap at the same time every day (I always hated being told to go to sleep when I wasn’t tired, so I’m sensitive to this). Also, since you’re right there and she can see you, it adds a layer of comfort.

Sunday, after I got home from the convention she started looking tired. She knows the sign for sleep, but she also, without fail, rubs her eyes like a cartoon character when she’s getting sleepy. So, I took her in, she wailed for 30 seconds and then calmed down and went to sleep. The only problem was that when I got up to leave the room, our super creaky floor made a huge noise and she woke up, so I just did it again for a bit and she went back to sleep.

Since then I’ve had a fair mix of success and failures. It’s more difficult in the evening because she seems tired and I want her to lay down, but I also don’t want her to nap too far into the evening because then she doens’t get as much time with her mom and might not sleep as well at night. It’s a tough balance to figure out, but I really like the method and think my wife came up with a winner!

Baby Update: 16 Months And Counting

One of these days, I’ll get the hang of coming up with posts on a regular basis for Pop Poppa. One of the problems I have in coming up with topics is that parenting a child who’s not even two yet is both the same every day and always changing, which means while a topic might sound interesting one day, it’s changed a few days later or I’ve become so used to it, it doesn’t seem worth writing about. Anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any to update readers on where Lu’s at with a few things here and there, many of the topics I’ve written about previously or talked about in various Photo Diary posts.

Diapers/Potty
We’re still working with the cloth diapers and wipes and my wife does that laundry every other day. As I mentioned in a somewhat recent post, we’ve been trying elimination communication which is still a little tricky. Lu doesn’t mind using her potty and sometimes we can get into a good rhythm where I get her on the potty every hour or so and she holds it until then, but sometimes my timing’s off. She’s also not really doing the sign to let us know when she has to use the bathroom which makes the whole process more difficult. Still, she’s doing well and I think she’ll catch on to the sign soon.

Talking/Signing
Speaking of signs, we’ve actually had some pretty impressive leaps in that department lately. Lu’s had the ones for “eat” and “all done” down for a while and we do our best to accomodate her when she uses them so she knows that we’re listening. She’s also got “hot,” “cold” and a few others down. The biggest surprise was when she started using the sign for “cat.” She’s been able to actually say “kitty” for a while now, so we figured there wasn’t much point continuing to use the sign, but out of the blue a few weeks back she started using her version of “cat” and does it while saying “kitty” which is pretty neat. She’s also talking pretty well and learning new words all the time, my personal favorite so far is “touchdown” which she says while raising both arms straight up in the air.

Walking
The kid walks like a champ. She’s getting pretty good at going up and down hills and is even learning how to use steps while either holding a railing or our hands. For a while, she had no interest in hand holding and would yank hers away if we tried, but she’s getting better at that too. She still gets a little antsy when we’re out running errands or at the grocery store, but even that’s getting a little better, though I’m also getting faster at the latter.

Eating
Lu still breastfeeds, but only in the morning, to go to bed and when she wakes up in the early morning. Though our freezer is packed with homemade baby food, these days Lu either eats what we’re eating or gets her own meal when we eat out. I’m been surprised to find that she’s more interested in spicy foods than my wife or I would have thought and only seems sensitive to temperature (which is why we taught her the signs for “hot” and “cold”). She tries just about everything, but isn’t the biggest fan of leafy greens and some other vegetables, but I think she makes up for it nutrition-wise thanks to her intense fruit addiction, I can barely keep the stuff in the house and even had to move our fruit bowl up high because she was taking bites out of everything from plums to oranges.

Sleeping
Naps have never been an exact science with us, though I have gotten her into a pretty regular schedule of going down for about an hour between 10 and 11AM. If I’m lucky, I get some work done and a shower in in that time. If I’m even luckier, when she wakes up crying, I can pick her back up and get her to fall back asleep. She usually wakes up crying if I try to put her back in her crib, so I’ve been placing her on a blanket on the floor in the living room and going about my business. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At night, she’s going down between 8 and 9PM and sleeps through to about 5:30AM. At that point I bring her into bed and she nurses until she falls back asleep. Just when I think she’s starting to sleep in more or switch things up, it turns out to be a fluke, but I still hope to get to the day where she’ll let her fall asleep for naps and the like on her own instead of fighting like crazy to stay awake.

Music
One of my favorite things Lu seems to be learning is an appreciation of music. When it’s on she dances around and really seems to enjoy herself. She likes when I play guitar and is even starting to learn the rhythms to the songs a few of her toys play. My wife even signed up for a weekly class that the two of them are going to take that revolves around different music and instruments. It’s becoming pretty evident that the kid has good timing.

TV
I try to limit the amount of TV watching in a day and have been doing an okay job of it, though some days are better than others. Our morning TV routine includes Sesame Street, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake And The Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins. None of those shows are too annoying, though I am starting to notice reruns, something I’m not too happy with considering we’ve only been watching these shows for a few months. After that I get her down for a nap and then have the TV off for most of the middle of the day while I get work done. In the afternoon, I usually turn it back on to distract her a bit while I cook, but it rarely works. Maybe I need to just start blasting tunes!

So that’s a pretty general idea of where we’re at. If you have any more specific questions, drop me a comment and I’ll either respond there, or do another post answering them.

An Open Letter To My Darling Daughter On Her First Birthday

Wow, I can’t believe you’re one today. Depending on the day, it either seems like the time has flown by or like you’re been part of our lives for far more than 365 days. Truthfully, you were part of us for the nine months before that, of course, but as much as I would look at the black and white ultrasound photo that still sits on a shelf directly across from where I sit every day, I could not have imagined what you’d really be like. I could see your nose, but that’s about it. I had no idea you’d have such bright, blue, sparkly eyes or that your cheeks would be so popular that strangers would come out of nowhere and say they wanted to eat them. Don’t worry, I didn’t let them. A few copped a quick cheek feel, but I kept an eye on them.

No, I really could not have known what being your dad would be like, how amazing it would be, how impressive you are and how completely my happiness has been connected to yours. I doubt you will remember this down the line, but when you have a bad day, so do I. When you’re popping out teeth and just not feeling well, I can’t help but feel out of sorts myself (and not just because those are the days where you seem dead set on clearing everything off of every shelf and table in the condo). I could not have known how warm my heart would get when you look at me and said “dada” or when you finally started laughing. I can’t really explain how mad I get when people cut us off in the car or when those strangers try to touch you. Mom calls it my “daddy bear” coming out and that just about explains it perfectly. How dare they, don’t they know I’m carrying precious cargo?

Something that most parents say to their kids is that they just want their kids to be safe and happy. Oftentimes, parents will go overboard on the former and wind up inhibiting the latter. I know I’ve probably done this already and will most likely do it as you grow up, but I want you to know that it all comes from a place of love and caring. I do my best to let you run around and do your own thing and hope you know I’ll always be there to scoop you up when you fall down (both literally and figuratively).

Looking back, it’s been a heckuva year. Remember when I used to carry you through the whole grocery store because you were too small for the cart and I didn’t want to use those gross ones with built in baby seats? Or how about when you were so little, we’d have to wrap you up in a blanket so you wouldn’t bonk yourself in the face and wake up? Or how your tiny hands and inquisitive nature have lead to an early exploration of the guitar? No, you probably won’t, but that’s okay. I’ve taken plenty of pictures and done a fair amount of writing her on the blog and over on my photo diary about your exploits, so we’ll hopefully be able to strolls together down memory lane.

You won’t understand this — or maybe any of this — until you have kids of your own, but I want you to know how proud I am of you and how much I love you. It’s such a complete and honest and true feeling that comes from deep inside. Like just about everything else about being a parent, it’s hard to explain, but instantly recognizable when you feel it. I hope my own issues and problems don’t seep down to do you too much and I apologize for my bad days, but want you to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love and support you and want you to have everything the world has to offer. Happy birthday chickadee.

Sit Up, Stand Up, Fight, Fight, Fight

Last week Lucy hit a development milestone that I have to say, I was not excited to see her achieve. She learned how to roll over from her back. Now, she’s done this a few times here and there in her nine-plus months in existence, but it wasn’t part of her repertoire. Even as she’s figured out how to pull herself up and move around in the past few months, I could still put her on her back and run into another room to take care of some things in another room.

Now? Not so much. Now that she can flip herself over I can’t take my eyes off of her for a second. Changing has become a bit more difficult, but the biggest difference now is that she will not allow herself to be awake and lying down in her crib anymore. As soon as she’s awake, she pops herself up and perches at the edge of her crib, hollering down the hall for me to come get her. This has made the days a lot more interesting as well as our evenings.

I used to be able to lie her down in her crib and she’d holler a bit, but would fall asleep in ten minutes or so. That doesn’t work anymore. I now have to fidget with her until she finally passes out which has cut down on her actual nap time which has been rough. Tired cranky babies are not easy to deal with, especially when you’re trying to make dinner before mommy gets home.

It really is surprising how much such a small development can change so many aspects of my day to day life, but I guess that’s just the name of the game when it comes to parenthood.

Apparently Babies Read Lips

So, it looks like I’ve been doing something right when it comes to our daughter’s vocal development. According to a recent story that I first heard about through my wife and then read about on The Huffington Post, babies between 6 and 12 months old watch a speaker’s mouth when they’re talking instead of the eyes. The researchers postulate that they do this in order to understand how we make the sounds we make when we talk.

This is what I was going for when I started doing alphabet sounds with Lucy. I was focusing on sounds instead of letters because she needs to be able to talk because she can read or write, but I also made sure that my face was very close to hers so she could see what I was doing with my mouth. Well, the study shows that that is exactly where babies are looking when it comes to language acquisition. It’s pretty cool stuff when you think about it and makes me wish I had my linguistics notebook from college here to see if there are any other things I can be doing to help out.

 

The Mommas & The Poppas

I made my bed, but that didn’t make sleeping in it any easier. That’s how I felt when Lucy starting saying “momma” before “dada.” I thought it would be nice to teach her how to talk to her mother first, not really thinking ahead to the days when all I would hear for hours on end as I feed and diaper her is “momma momma momma momma.”

Well, I succeeded. “Momma” was her first word. Now, whether she knows what it means or not, we’re not quite sure. Instead of meaning “mother” we think it might mean “adult” or “parent” in her developing brain. She doesn’t seem to say it to anyone but us, but she does babble it at various times. Heck, I was walking through the grocery store with her last week and she screamed “momma” out at the top of her tiny lungs. It’s kind of embarrassing because I don’t want people to think I stole this child who is crying out for her mother while I’m trying to figure out which kind of canned tomatoes to buy for that week’s pasta sauce. It would serve me right for reasons I’ll get into in another post. I have a surprising number of stories from my childhood where I almost got both my parents into somewhat serious trouble by being a wiseacre.

Anyway, Lucy’s had the “momma” thing down for about a month now. I’m glad she’s developing, of course, and know that it does my wife’s heart good to hear it, but I was really glad when, on Friday, I finally got her to say “poppa!” I always assumed I’d be called “dad” or “dada” or something along those lines, but I think it’s fun that she can say the paternal sobriquet that I named this blog after. My wife asked me “You want to be called poppa?” And I was like, “One, I’ll take what I can get, and two, it’s good for the blog.” She still says “momma” more than “poppa” but she slips it in enough to keep me smiling, which is nice because she spends about half the day screaming her head off just to see if she can do it.

A lot of people say their kid learned to say “dada” before “momma,” but when you think about it the M (and P) sounds are actually a lot easier to make. Say all three and pay attention to where your tongue and lips are. When you do M and P sounds, you’re just moving your lips and pushing air out in different ways. But, the D sound involves getting your tongue up behind your front teeth and moving it downwards. That’s a little bit more difficult for someone trying to figure out what the heck this whole talking thing is all about. She’s doing great and I’m proud of her. I hope all those times doing alphabet sounds has helped out.

Pop Poppa Product Review: Balboa Baby Shopping Cart & High Chair Cover

Back before Lucy was born, I was cleaning up her room, opening some of the gifts we had received and trying to find places for them. The Balboa Baby Shopping Cart & High Chair Cover was one of the more confusing of the bunch. See, it’s kind of like a Popple in that the cover actually folds up into itself into a kind of oblong football. At the time, I got frustrated in about one minute and tossed the thing aside.But now, it’s a huge part of pretty much any trip my wife and/or I take with the baby. See, the idea is that you unfold the Popple and place it inside a shopping cart or high chair so that the baby not only has more support but also isn’t touching the same thing that hundreds of other kids have touched. Once Lu started sitting up pretty well on her own, we were able to start using it and it has been a wonderful addition to our trips to the grocery store and restaurants. I’ve got a variation on the Balboa that I keep in my car (the Balboa stays in my wife’s) and it’s good, but not nearly as simple or compact. The only problem? They’re pretty expensive at $45.83 on Amazon with the one I got from Target running about $20 0r so. Is the Balboa worth the extra $30? Hmm, probably not if it’s coming out of your own pocket. However, I highly recommend putting one on your baby registry and hope that someone with bucks hooks you up!

Hopping On The Chuck Wagon, Baby-Style

Over the past few weeks, we’ve started Lucy on solid foods. At her last pediatrician’s appointment the doctor said it was a good time to start, but my wife had been preparing before that. We’ve decided to make our own baby food because we’ll know exactly what in it, it’s cheaper and it’s pretty darn simple (just cook a fruit or vegetable, mash it up and freeze for later use). As such, our freezer is packed with ice cube-sized bits of frozen pumpkin, summer squash, apples and more! Above you can see Lucy’s actual eating set up. We use the Chicco 360 Hook On seat which is great because it can clamp on to any table and the seat spins all the way around which means she can watch me in the kitchen when I cook. We went with this kind of a chair because our place is kind of small and a full-on high chair would have added way too much clutter. Plus, this is easily portable when we go visit friends and family.For a serving dish, we use what’s called  a 893 Hankscraft USA (the pink thing above). My mother-in-law gave it to us and it’s actually a really cool idea. See, the bowl is ceramic and the bottom half is hollow, so what you do is add hot water to one of the holes on the side to keep food warm or in our case help with the defrost and then pop the cork back in. I don’t think Hankscraft is still around, but you can find the dishes with a Google search. They’re definitely worth checking out if you’re going the frozen baby food route. As far as actual eating goes, we get a lot of looks like the one seen above the first time she tries something. In addition to the summer squash, apples and pumpkin I mentioned, she’s also had a mixture of pear and apple as well as some mashed bananas, sweet potatoes (from inside a fry) and avocado off my wife’s salad (that was just last night). At first we get a “why am I doing this?” kind of look but after a few tries she tends to warm up to the idea. I think she’s getting the hang of the different tastes and the whole concept of gumming and swallowing food. The only problem? Solid food leads to solid poop!

She Fights Naps Like The Devil

I can’t remember if I came up with that line or if someone else did, but it perfectly describes my daughter. She’s six months old now and as alert as ever which means she absolutely, positively does not want to go down for a nap, even if she’s rubbing her bleary eyes and rolling over like the winner of a chugging contest. I’ve tried as many ways of putting her to sleep as I can think of, but only a few work. When she was a little younger, she’d usually pass out on the bottle, so I could easily slip a pacifier in her mouth and then drop her off in her crib, but that doesn’t work anymore. After eating she seems more awake than ever, so I’ve had to change tactics.

When we lost power a couple weeks back, my wife and I put a blanket up over the big window in our room to keep the remaining heat we had in and the cold out. We’ve kept it up because our windows such and we need to replace them (which translates into me needing to call a few local contractors my dad tracked down). Since Lu sleeps with us at night now (it’s easier for my wife to feed her that way) I figured I’d try laying her down in the bed with all the sheets and pillows moved far away from her. It worked like a dream. I even got a 3 hour nap out of her one day. But that method is not without it’s difficulties. For one thing, we’re supposed to be getting her used to sleeping in her crib. For another, it cuts the bedroom off for use during naptime which did not jive so well with my habit of showering while she slept. Seeing as how the quiet was more important, I was stinkier than usual for a week or so there. Over the weekend, my wife and I purchased some much darker curtains to help darken the room. They do a pretty good job, but it can still be pretty bright in there thanks to the light blue walls. But, it’s been working alright so far this week. I will say, though, that it seems to take Lucy longer to fall asleep in that room, which means she cries longer, wanting to stay awake. It really is the hardest part of the day because, as a parent I do not want to hear my kid cry like that. I want to scoop her up and take care of her, but I also know that she needs to learn to take naps. It’s a tough lesson for both of us to learn, but I guess that’s a theme I need to get used to as a parent.

Cutting Teeth

Teething is one of those developmental things that everyone dreads. We’ve all heard the horror stories about babies screaming through the night as their first tooth ever so slowly makes its way through the gums, pierces the surface makes that grand appearance out in the world. I’ve heard somewhere that, if adults had to go through this, they wouldn’t be able to stand the pain. I don’t know about all that. I do know that, over the past month and a half or so, Lucy’s had more difficult days than normal. She wasn’t napping very well and has been waking up crying more often. Her sleep patterns also changed at night. We figured pretty early on that it was teething. My wife told me that babies can wake up angry or crying because, when they’re awake, the pain can be blocked out, but when they’re sleeping they’re more focused on it.

Thinking about all this is kind of a bummer. These poor little tykes have to go through all this pain and there’s not really much you can do. We do have these things called Humphrey’s Teething Pellets, which seemed to help the few times we used them, though they made her a little loopy.

After a while, it seemed like Lucy got back to normal or at least settled into a new routine. Then, one day while I was out putting oil in my car or something, my wife came out with the baby. She actually startled me because I wasn’t expecting them to be standing there, but the big smile on her face calmed me down instantly. My wife showed me a tooth peeking out of Lucy’s gums. That was almost a full month ago (it was on her five month birthday, actually) and she now has a second one popping through.

Overall, I think the kid might have my wife’s high threshold for pain because the second one didn’t seem to bother her too much. I think it’s cool to see her starting to really grow up, though I wish it didn’t hurt her so much. The only real difference, the one that we can’t explain to her just yet, is that she can’t suck on our fingers like she used to because it hurts like a muther. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty of toys and teethers for her gnaw on to hopefully make up for it though.

Haha

The other day Lucy made a few sounds that sounded an awful lot like “ha ha.” Since then I’ve been trying to get her to say it again with varying degrees of success. This video has the best example so far. I know it’s not really a word, but I think it’s important to start a kind of call and response with her. She might not be able to say words or actually communicated, but being able to replicate and repeat sounds is a big part of the process. It might just be my imagination, but I also noticed that she tends to smile when I say “ha ha” to her, almost like she knows what it means. Just saying…

Rock And Roll Over

My wife tells me people are clamoring for this story, so here goes. As I mentioned a few weeks back, I’m not the biggest fan of tummy time because it sounds stupid and more importantly I think it’s difficult to get the point across to your baby. The idea is to get them used to rolling over and building up strong core muscles so they can crawl and eventually walk. If it took a few days for that to sink in with me (I can be a bit slow at times) then how do I convey all that to my baby who clearly does not like being on her stomach? I said in that post that I’d keep doing tummy time with Lucy because my wife requested I do so, but to be honest, it was pretty low on the priority list between getting work done, feeding her and remembering to feed myself.

Cut to this past Saturday. My wife had gotten up with the baby and was hanging out with her. My parents were at a hotel nearby for a visit and I was still sleeping, so it was just the two of them. The missus put Lucy on a blanket on the floor for some tummy time, turned just barely away from her to grab the remote, flipped one channel and then looked down to check on the baby only to find her staring up at her on her back! She rolled over in the 20 seconds my wife looked away. A series of attempts to recreate the experience for her eyes and the vigilant eye of our Flip camera were for naught. Lucy had rolled over once and that was it.

Until yesterday that is. See, one of the problems I’ve noticed is that Lucy has trouble digging her toes into anything to get a good grip. She can curl them up like fingers, but she hasn’t really grasped the whole traction thing. I had put her on her space gym (which I can only assume is the first step towards becoming an astronaut). It’s a little slippery, but I think it also moves around enough for her to get a grip with those tiny monkey toes. Within moments she had flipped herself over on her back thanks to a little traction, a shifting of her weight and maybe the accidental movement of an arm. Thankfully, she did it once again with the camera rolling as you can see.

The whole event is admittedly not a mind-blowing revelation, at least Lucy didn’t seem to think so, but it’s a building block for her eventual mobility. The thing I have to keep in mind is that each of these seemingly inconsequential movements are actually pretty important. Each one teaches Lucy a little bit more about what her tiny body can do and lead to all the simple, obvious things we do as adults every single day that we don’t even think about anymore. Next time you’re on the floor or sitting in a chair and decide to get up, take a second to focus on everything you’re doing. Your toes probably curl a little against the floor for balance, your leg muscles tense, you push your torso upwards to gain momentum and a million other little things in an effort not to fall over. It’s a simple yet complex motion that babies have to learn as they go. So, to sum things up, I guess tummy time isn’t so dumb after all, though I still wish it had a less silly name.

Alphabet Sounds

In college I took a Linguistics class. It was, by far, the most difficult course in the English department at Ohio Wesleyan University, because, unlike its fellows, this one couldn’t be bullshitted through with a good paper. Linguistics is the study of human language, how we speak and the differences in dialect. It’s basically a science class masquerading as and English one. Dr. DeMarco was the professor, if memory serves, and she was fantastic, boiling things down so even the dullest of us could understand. And, unlike a lot of other classes I took, I actually remember a lot of what I learned off the top of my head. I actually had sat in on one of her classes as a senior in high school while visiting the school and still remember the discussion that day, it was about how different parts of the country have different names for fireflies (aka lightning bugs, etc). Wild.

I could regale you with trivia like why we speak English instead of the more prominent Dutch in this country, but that’s not really pertinent to the topic. The stuff that really stuck with me has to do with language development in children. We were taught a theory that basically that any baby born anywhere in the world has the potential to learn any language, which explains why babies born in one country can move to another and learn the native language. Basically, the idea is that babies are born with a kind of circuit breaker when it comes to language that includes the building blocks of every language, from the heavy back-of-the-throat sounds of German to the tongue clicks found in some African tribes. As the child grows and gets used to whatever language is around them, the circuits either stay on or get turned off with lack of use. So, for instance, a baby in Africa would keep the click sounds on while an American child would turn them off because they’re not a part of the dialect or language. However, if the child is taught several different languages, the circuits will stay on and the kid will have a much better chance of being multlingual than a middle age dude trying to learn French for his next business trip. His circuits are old and rusted into place though with enough practice, they can be loosened.

Another story Dr. DeMarco told us explained that children actually understand language long before they can use it. The story involved a linguist and his daughter. The girl hadn’t quite gotten the hang of Ls yet, so instead of saying “light” she said “yight.” When her dad went to turn the light off he referred to it as yight and she got upset, saying “not yight, YIGHT.” She knew the difference, but just couldn’t say it. It’s like understanding how hockey works, but not being able to skate, control the puck and hit people all at the same time. The ideas are there, but the mechanics aren’t.

I think about these things a lot with Lucy. Communication is very important on all kinds of levels, but especially the basic ones. They say you can figure out the difference between their cries, which I guess I’m starting to get on at least a visceral level. I couldn’t explain to you what a hungry cry sounds like as opposed to a gassy cry, but when they’re happening, I can feel it. My wife and I are trying to do sign language, starting off with basics, but it’s impossible to see if anything’s getting through to her this early (she doesn’t really have control of her hands anyway).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t try. I also make it a point to go through the alphabet sounds with her every day as you can see in the video above (I started taping with F). I try to get up close to her face and open my mouth as much as possible to she can potentially see what my mouth and tongue are doing to make the sounds. Another big part of that Linguistics class–and another reason it was so damn hard–was learning the different kinds of sounds your mouth makes and learning a mostly-new alphabet to spell words with using phonemes (the vowels were the hardest, think about how many different sounds they make). I can’t remember the alphabet right now, but I do think about how different sounds are made. For instance, the little girl who was trying to say light was making the Y sound in the back of her throat and with the back of her tongue while the L sound is made with the tongue right up near the teeth. It’s not something you really think about when talking because it comes naturally thanks to the circuit breaker, but something I’m trying to remember when teaching my daughter. Maybe it will help and maybe it won’t, but at least she seems to have a good time during out “lessons.”

Tummy Time Trials

I get the point of tummy time, even though it’s a phrase that involuntarily makes my eyes roll every time I say or hear it. You’re supposed to put your baby on his or her stomach and they’re supposed to roll themselves over onto their backs. It has something to do with muscle control and coordination because they need to use both their arms and legs to succeed and eventually crawl. Great. Here’s the problem though, babies don’t understand any of that. If they like being on their stomachs, they’re just hanging out, if they don’t, they’re freaking out. I guess that freaking out might fuel their desire to roll over, but once again, they’re babies and have no idea what you want of them. There’s no real way to convey what you’re trying to get them to do aside from doing it yourself and I’ve tried that. The result? Blank stares from a 10 week old.

My wife has been doing the tummy time thing mostly with our daughter, but with her going back to work, it’s up to me. I gave it a shot our first day alone and the stupidity of the whole thing landed on me when I realized that Lucy–who is actually quite strong and can pull herself forward with her arms if you hold your hands out in front of her–just doesn’t get it. Or, if she does get it, she doesn’t know how to tell her hands and legs what to do. Coordination isn’t her thing just yet.

There’s a disconnect in the process that makes me think there’s got to be a better way to do this, right? I have faith in Lucy that she will figure out how to roll over without being left on the floor to do so. However, since I told the missus that I’ll keep it up, I guess I will.