The Pursuit of Happiness

Now, where did I leave that mother of mine…

There are some mysteries of the cosmos too great to be understood by mere mortal minds. From the deep fathoms of infinite knowledge there exists an immeasurable chasm between the gray matter of our awareness and the dark void of the beyond.

For our newborn, that mystery of all mysteries lies within the realm of one of the oldest, most cherished past times of humanity: peek-a-boo.

Yes, peek-a-boo, I see you! Where’s baby? There he is! Peek-a-boo! Philosophers have engaged in this very discourse of reality and existence for millennia. What is real? What does it mean to be alive and to exist? Questions that haunt our temporal beings. And then at the moment of bleakest thoughts, a bright light shines forth to illuminate our hearts and cast away the cobwebs of the corners of our minds. Peek-a-boo! Oh, there you are Mommy! Where’d you go? You sneaky, sneaky mommy. What is this dark magic? I know where you are; you can’t hide forever… gotcha, peek-a-boo!

What once was lost, now is found. And there are few things that can make our baby boy more giddy than by slyly covering our faces and then popping out like a jack-in-the-box. Like a fox in socks jumping out of a box, or so said Mr. Knox.

The only other thing that can calm and soothe the fears and frustrations of my son is a nice shiny, sharp object. He loves them. Interior fire sprinklers, hanging light fixtures, and freshly polished cutlery. All his favorites and perfectly, suitable educational toys for a baby. My parents gave me my first hatchet when I learned to walk. I was so proud when our newborn held his first Cutco knife.

But his absolute favorite is this little eye-and-hook latch that we use for our sliding barn door. Whenever he gets upset, I just walk him over to that little piece of pointy, protruding metal, and he immediately starts to grin with devious delight. At first, he simply stares and glances, not wanting to be too forward. Then as he warms up, he just barely reaches out towards the lock, careful not to touch yet; only to flirt and tease. He’ll play hard to get and shyly look away with a blush. Finally, after the courtship, the moment of waiting comes to fullness as he starts—not to caress tenderly—but to slap like a whack-a-mole hyped up on pixie dust the dangling lock with squeals of laughter and raptures of pure ecstasy.

Don’t even get me started on ceiling fans. Every baby loves them. I assume, it is because ceiling fans seem to have an awfully close resemblance to the Bible’s depictions of angels. So, babies must be remembering the beautiful sight of singing angels that they knew before knowing while their souls were formed and knitted by the Great Artist outside of time and space. Or something like that. What do I know?

Our daughter says that Pikachu’s last name is Peekaboo. What a missed opportunity to have named our child…

Newton’s Three Laws of Bouncing Bundles of Babies

or The Opposite and Equal Reaction of Everything Hitting the Earth

Bring on the memes…

Our 8-month-old is an adorable rascal and a vandal. Gets it from his mother’s side—obviously. Or maybe he’s just destined to be a ball player because he throws. Everything.

When you hand something to him, he only does one of two things: tries to eat it or throws it on the ground. Usually, it’s both. He will try to eat it (doesn’t matter what “it” is), throw it on the ground, and then stare at its new spatial context with whimsical curiosity and meditative inquisitiveness. You could say, he has a “flooral” fixation.

Sometimes he really gets in the zone. He can throw items quicker than you can hand them to him. Then he will sit in introspective reflection, gazing at the graveyard of plastic and polyester before him, and ponder over the laws of gravity. He’s clearly a prodigy of Newtonian physics. Probably mentally measuring the forces of gravity, drag, buoyancy, and the Magnus effect on the flight and motion of each object as it falls and bounces; the motion of each projectile which typically constitutes a characterization of the coefficient of restitution and ergo can be affected by the nature of the item and the impacted surface along with density, velocity, rotation, temperature, and pressure; of which the aerodynamic properties and physical behaviors of the matter in motion before, during, and after collision with the mass of another body serve as the mechanics of near-parabolic patterns that are engineered; all of this which encompasses what is scientifically known as: “bounciness.” At least, that’s what I assume he’s thinking (I may have used Wikipedia).

Sometimes, we try to tether things in a way that he cannot throw them away. He doesn’t like that. Hand him a toy car. Throws it on the ground. Hand him a cup. Throws it on the ground. Hand him a baby. Throws it on the ground. Hand him an electric waffle maker. Throws it on the ground. Oh wait, are you not supposed to give babies electronics?

If you’re holding him, he tries really hard to rip your ears and eyelids off—clearly so that he can throw them on the ground. He’s got quite the arm. I’m so proud.

Plus, now that he’s crawling all over the place, each day appears to be an adventure as he is on a constant quest to find new artifacts to chew on and throw. He is like Indiana Jones except instead of searching for treasures for a museum he is searching for treasures to smash. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Noah’s Ark wooden animal play set because our son has strewn them all about the house. Indiana Jones the Temple of Doomed toys that have all died the death of a thousand falls. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to find and throw everything in the house. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom the Crystal… never give a crystal to a throwing-obsessed baby unless you want crystal shrapnel in your shins and shards all over the floor. And also, with a diaper instead of a fedora.

The moral of the story: don’t be a litter bug because it’s not cute unless you’re a chubby, chunky baby.

Corona-crappy-diem

First chicken pox, then bird flu, and now this‽

The following is inspired by true events…

The other morning when my wife was taking our three-year-old to the bathroom, I overheard a brief exchange that went something like this:

Toddler: “We can’t see grandma n’ grandpa right now cause a’ da carvana virus.”

Mommy: “Yeah, the coronavirus really stinks.”

Toddler: “But why does it stink? Did it poop? Stinky poo corazon-virus!”

It was something like that. Either way, yes, the coronavirus is stinky poo. Remind humanity never to do this again please. The kids have a cabin fever of 110o and are losing their little minds. For me, I’m an introvert, so it’s been great having a socially acceptable excuse to socially distance from people. It’s totally not weird now when I refuse to shake strangers’ hands or I ask them to please stay away from me (at least six feet of course).

The moral of the story? Don’t be like the coronavirus unless you want to be flushed down the toilet.

Alexa, Tell Me the Story of “I, Diaper”

So, after posting a recent blog admonishing Huggies for their superior diapers, we were sent a generous gift of, wait for it… two separate $1 off coupons (that cannot be used simultaneously).

Preeettyy exciting I know. And honestly, it’s appreciated because I didn’t expect anything. But here’s what’s funny:

Just a week or so after, Pampers sent us a free coupon in the mail for $5—oh yeah, that’s right, 2.5 times more in diaper purchasing power! Pampers just declared war. Or I suppose it’s a diaper war that has raged for eons. (I wonder if we could get more free stuff by complimenting other company competitors…?)

In other recent events, our now totally three-year-old has figured out how to make purchases using Alexa. Now, her and Alexa go way back and have been conversing for some time, having become quite chatty friends and quite the fans of the Disney princess soundtracks. So what did she do with this newfound super power?

She ordered the Extreme Farts Extension Pack. She loves it and thinks Alexa’s medical-grade flatulence condition is hilarious. This lovely compilation includes the all-time greatest hits such as: crispy fart, cheeky fart, engine rumbler, wet and squeaky, quick and squelchy, short and gassy, ketchup fart, triumphant fart, happy birthday, Beethoven, farting around the house, machine gun, unicorn fart, dinosaur fart, shy fart, donkey fart, the dreaded pants ripper, and of course, my favorites, Sir Farts-A-Lot along with Farty McFartems. Yes, hundreds of on-demand wind breaks of which the combinations and permutations are infinite.

And just in case any of you were wondering, Amazon does not let you return digital purchases.

This is capitalism at its zenith my friends—both the light and the dark. A world where diaper design battles it out on the frontlines of bowel movements in a complexity comparable to Leonard Read’s famous “I, Pencil” essay, and a world where your toddler can order the ultimate farting album just by talking to a little, glowing hockey puck.

Stay safe and dry my friends.

5ish Things Babies Do That Would Be Awkward If Adults Still Did Them

But first, a note about those diapers that I forgot to mention last time…

The other thing that I love about Huggies is that it’s called Huggies. So, it’s like a nice, warm hug for your most delicate regions. Especially during times like these with all the social distancing, it must be nice and comforting to be embraced by an absorbent cotton cloud 24/7.

Now on to other baby matters…

Listen, I know, pretty much everything a baby does is socially unacceptable for adults to do. But here are, I think, five uniquely and especially interesting baby habits that are total taboos for the all-grown-up:

1. Staring wide-eyed and never blinking

One of the most hilarious and creepiest things about babies is that they basically never blink. They just stare at everything like a deer in headlights. They stare at ceiling fans, lights, emptiness, and sometimes even you. When adults stare too much, the police are called. Also, babies will stare and study their own hands like some rare, archaeological treasure. But then hungrily try and devour their own fingers. Speaking of which…

2. Gnawing on… everything

Literally everything. Babies will go to town on whatever they can get their ravenous, unquenchable paws on. If they had teeth, they would gnaw your face right off. Yes, adorable, I know. But can you imagine if an adult came up to you and started chewing on your cheek bone like some kind of deranged zombie?

3. Laying around and waiting for someone else to tend to their every whim

Don’t take this the wrong way, but babies are sort of useless. Now I love babies, but still, they just lounge around like self-entitled royalty, ringing a bell so that their servants can come take care of all their needs and desires. They do this all while grabbing their toes, blowing bubbles, and rocking about in maniacal glee. Adults are typically encouraged to earn their keep; to actually do something and not just drool everywhere. Kid, get a job already. Child labor laws are ruining this country.

4. Randomly shouting, squealing, and squirming

With almost no perceivable provocation, a baby will start kicking and flailing about while screaming in ecstasy at the sound of their own vocal cords. What if when adults got so excited, they just started kicking everything? It’d be chaos. Insurance companies would have to create policies specifically designed for damages done by overly excited kicking fits and other emotional outbursts. The worst is when babies want to kick and roll while getting changed. What if adults did that while using the potty?

5. Falling asleep whenever wherever

Babies often fall asleep while eating like some kind of chronic narcoleptic. It’s like, yes please keep feeding me until I just pass out into a food coma. And then, while asleep, they splay out in starfish fashion with their little arms and hands that can’t quite reach the top of their heads. Restaurants would have an even more serious loitering problem if adults took involuntary naps after eating. Either that or they’d need to start charging a nap-booth rental fee.

Obviously, there are more baby antics that adults should avoid. Let me know of ones you’ve observed.

Double Entendre Diapers

Don’t judge—we all have our regressive states during a crisis!

Now that we’re on our second child, we’ve obviously become baby-rearing champions. We know basically everything there is to know. Just don’t ask us any specific questions.

However, if there’s one thing we have learned over the past few years, it’s this: Huggies “Little Snugglers” are literally the only diaper worth it (by it, I mean your money, your carpets, your laundry, and your sanity. [Also, Huggies company, feel free to pay in diapers for this unsolicited endorsement!]).

Look, we’ve tried them all. Every variation of protective baby-bottom wear that you can imagine. We’ve done all the major and minor manufacturers. We’ve tried reusable and all-natural. And by the end of it all, only the Little Snugglers worked consistently at keeping the floodgates at bay and secured within the fluffy, absorbent folds of the package. In other words, they’re not as prone to leaking out everywhere.

There are few things more frustrating than going to all the trouble of putting a diaper on a spastic baby just for that diaper to not do its job. Our first child was like trying change a tornado. She squirmed, rolled, and rotated throughout the entire process. Our second, now he is like a broncing, bucking bull. He kicks and flares like he’s playing in the World Cup. Changing a diaper is like performing a medical procedure on a patient without anesthesia. Like playing the game “Operation” but if you lose, instead of a red buzzer going off, you get poo everywhere. It’s like disarming a bomb rotating in three-dimensions that even after you think you’re safe, it can still go off again.

But the real reason why the Little Snugglers are my favorite? Because they’re the Winnie the Pooh brand. Winnie, his friends, some balloons and clouds, and other happy designs decorate the plump potty pockets. The pun possibilities are just too perfect. The wordplay is whimsical. The innuendo is ingenious. The snuggly suggestiveness is simply stupendous. A paradox of pint-sized people-pollution packets.

In case you missed it. Let me spell it out. There are pictures of Pooh Bear on the diapers which are meant to contain baby poo. Pooh on poo. I can’t help but giggle like an immature middle schooler. For Huggies to obtain the rights to print Pooh on their poo pouches has got to be one of the best investments a company has ever made. It’s just the best.

It’s also, potentially, very philosophical. Where does one Pooh start and the other poo end?

So, whenever life feels weighed down by excrement, don’t be an Eeyore, be a Pooh.

For those that are familiar with the story: I now want to play Pooh Sticks. For everyone else, I leave you to the Internet.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A. A. Milne (aka Winnie-the-Pooh)

The Harrowing Tale of the Horrible Hair

I have recently arrived at this terrifying realization. And no, it has nothing do with the new strain of coronavirus and how the world’s gone mad (or madder than usual I guess… maybe… actually it’s probably all about the same; the world’s always been nuts). No, no, this has to do with beloved anthropomorphized animal characters intended for children. Let me explain.

Our practically three-year-old highness loves to read, and one of her favorites is the Llama Llama Red Pajama series by Anna Dewdney. And look, don’t get me wrong, because they are genuinely great children’s books, and I would recommend them for any family.

But I noticed something, something rather quite disturbing to my constitution the other day (Note: I’m referring to the original books, not the cartoon). If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Llama Llama and Mama Llama both have an exorbitant amount of hair coming out of their ears. It’s like an exploding bouquet of spider legs. The quantity of fur and ear wax is nothing short of alarming. And I’m just thinking: why? What the what? Why in the world was this artistic decision made? At some point, the artist had to ponder this choice and land on the decision to illustrate the spindling threads protruding from the cute llama’s hearing orifices. It’s one of those things that once you see, you can never unsee. Now, every time I read one of these books, I’m constantly distracted by the frightening truth—unable to turn my gaze from the bushy ear brows.

It doesn’t end there either. There’s this other character, one of Llama Llama’s friends (by the way, what if we all had repeating, self-identifying names like Llama Llama? I’d be called, “Hey, you, Guy Guy!), and her name is Nelly Gnu. She’s an adorable little goat character, all except one very specific detail. She has such a prominently, well-groomed and conspicuous goatee that would make Colonel Sanders blush. The thickness of her facial hair makes me embarrassed to pass on my genetics to future generations. Again, I ask, “Why, just why?”

Sometimes, the world is a scary and confusing place. There are life questions too big for our small human minds to comprehend. Answers are elusive. As I muse on existence and my own mortality, I am haunted by the hair; oh, the hair. My only comfort and solace is the knowledge that in death the hair will finally stop growing (yeah, that whole “nails and hair continue to grow after you die” thing is totally a myth). Until then, I sleep with an eye open and a razor under my pillow.

At least the rhymes are catchy and educational.

On Your Birthday

When you first opened your eyes,
The moment before I blinked
With vista full of tears,
I thought I saw
The galaxy swirling.
That a universe so incomprehensibly vast
Could be confined to such small vessels.

As hopes and
Dreams and
Wishes and
Prayers
All shot by at over eleven million miles per minute.

As you became,
I became something new under sun and moon.

Hope fulfilled.
More than dreams imagined.
Wishes turned truth.
Prayers answered
With a soft cry pushed into being by tiny lungs.

Miracles.

I thought I saw the galaxy be born.
I believe I heard the voice of God.

To My Son

Ten proverbs for daily living

  1. Safety First: wear your helmet, buckle your seat-belt, tie your shoelaces, and always use a drink coaster before putting a beverage down on mommy’s nice end-table.
  2. Learn to listen before speaking. You have two ears and one mouth which means you need to listen twice as much—especially to me, listen to me. Plus, people will just assume you’re smarter if you stay the strong, stoic type.
  3. Inactivity kills. Get moving. But always use the potty before going on a long trip.
  4. Wash your hands you filthy animal. Ain’t nobody got time to be sick.
  5. Always do the right thing—which is usually the harder thing—and never assume that someone else will do it. Just be the one who does it.
  6. Drink Dunkin’, not Starbucks.
  7. Try not to care too much about what other people think. People are dumb. Except me and your mother. And your grandparents and maybe some of your other relatives. Also, probably the pastor. I guess there’s a handful of people that aren’t total nincompoops, but still.
  8. Write down your goals and plans to accomplish them. Write down thoughts, inspirations, prayers, and checklists. When writing a list for the Internet, be sure to try and include an even 10 things like the “Top Ten List of Top Ten Lists.”
  9. When you grow up and leave home, please remember to call your mother. You don’t have to call me.
  10. Start and end each day with gratitude.

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8-9)

A Suitable Sunday School Shape-Sorter Sermon

Fits like a glove… if chickens wore gloves…

We have this little, wooden Noah’s Ark shape sorter—a toy set with pairs of animals that match slots in the ark so your little one can put the animals inside. (God’s judgment poured out on the entire earth always seemed like an odd choice for nursery paintings and children toys… but I guess it is a convenient way to teach animal names?)

The other day, our two-year-old (or two-and-a-half, thank you very much) was playing with this wooden ark toy. What transpired was equal parts hilarious and horrifying. A sight to behold; a just can’t look away at the impending disaster moment.

In her infinite creativity and premature cynicism, our cute, precious, little child was grabbing the various animals out of the ark, one by one, and throwing them out into “the ocean” and commanding the wooden figurines to “Swim you animals! Swim giraffe! Swim zebra! Swim lion! Swim!” The only thing missing was a maniacal cackle.

I guess these animals had been found wanting, and now they would feel the full measure of wrath of 26 pounds of pure, unbridled princess rage. The day of reckoning had come.

I’m really not sure what lesson to take from this. Don’t mess with the princess, I guess. You shall rue the day. But everyone already knows that. Also, learn to swim just in case you ever find yourself in an Aqua-Armageddon scenario.

One of the Four Horsemen of the Toddlerpocalypse.

Do you have a terrifying toddler tale? Let me know, and we can commiserate with one another on that true life.