They Grow Up Too Fast!

Gianna in the Sunroom

It may surprise you, but I’m too damn sentimental.

Gianna and Clyde Looking into the Sunroom
Gianna and Clyde looking into the sunroom before she could get in there on her own.

I am. I may not tell everyone about it all the time, or show it, but I choke up way too often for my liking. All sort of things make me do it, but one of them is seeing Gianna reach milestones.

She’s growing up way too fast.

I took this shot a weeks ago when Gianna first figured out how to climb down the couple steps into the sunroom. She has been going up and down carpeted steps for months, but up until the moment I took this picture, she hadn’t tried to go down these ones. It was always a safe haven for the dogs and their loot.

[singlepic id=168 w=500 h=390 float=center]

Her first time climbing down the steps took about 30 seconds–and once she got down there, she was so damn happy that I had to laugh out loud with her. The second time took about 20 seconds (which occurred immediately after she explored the entire room as if she had never seen it before).

By the end of the day, she could climb down the steps in about 1.5 seconds.

Now her new pastime is recapturing her socks and wash rags (which Gretel has been stealing for months and taking in there to lick and bite).

Of course now Gianna is in the sunroom all the time, looking out the windows, licking the glass, harassing Clyde (apparently it’s a very fun room to spend time in). This morning I caught her pulling handfuls of dirt from a planter and feeding it to Gretel. At least she didn’t eat any.

I took this picture through Clyde’s legs (he walked into my shot).

Gianna in the Sunroom

It’s fun to see her reaching milestones right before my eyes. I never thought I’d be doing this or that it would be so much fun. She is certainly growing up too fast. I can see how people feel bittersweet about their kids growing up.

Time freaking flies! I have to say that nothing has ever really brought it home to me every day so much as watching Gianna grow, especially this winter. I have been home a lot since Christmas, so we’ve been spending the days together. I think that has really accelerated  how much I notice her changing. With spring coming, that will change. We’ll get back to work outside every day, and she will go back to my mom’s all the time. I’m curious whether I’ll notice the changes more or less.

We’ll see, I guess.

Check out my follow-up post here: They Grow Up Too Fast! Part 2

What Have I Learned in a Year?

Gianna Birthday Laughing

Last Saturday, my daughter Gianna turned one-year-old.

[singlepic id=148 w=500 h=240 float=right]

I can’t hardly believe it. I find myself saying this a lot, but time flies! You really see it when you are raising little kids, something I never thought I would be doing. They just advance at such fast rates, learning new things every day, and you’re constantly reminded that you yourself are getting older too.

One year.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were content to never have kids. In fact, Melissa and I have been together since 1993 (we got married in 1995) and never planned on having them at all. People had stopped asking us about it years ago, so it was a pretty big Gianna as an infantsurprise in general that we decided to go for it and see what happened. And once we made the decision to see if we could get pregnant, it happened almost instantly: Melissa stopped taking the pill and was pregnant 2 weeks later.


Gianna was on the way.

If you can handle swearing and some harsh words, check out my post from about a year and 8 months ago, when I announced to the world that we were about to have a baby. Prepare to be offended, but you can read it here: And now we join one of my least favorite segments of society . . .

My viewpoint hasn’t changed at all in the intervening time. I still generally dislike many parents, although I guess to use current terminology, I tend to dislike their “parenting techniques.” I haven’t mastered parenting (there is no such thing, I’d say). But being as I deal with kid issues every day, I now have some practical experience with what works with Gianna, and I think I have a pretty good understanding of how easy it is to just let your kids to whatever they want. I still don’t like terribly-behaved little kids or lazy parents who think you should love their kid’ bad behavior like they do. Or who think you should also suffer through such crap like them.

Okay so on a more positive note, I do appreciate having a far better understanding of the huge commitment it takes to be a good Gianna and Clyde Watching Gretelparent. Once you have the responsibility of raising your very own human, and you spend a LOT of time watching them grow, learn things, interact with the world, etc.

Inevitably, it changes you, and I’m no exception.

I just hope it’s a change for the better and not for the worse. Thus far, in examining myself, it’s positive. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that I am a bit more empathetic. Contrary to my expectations, I feel bad when she gets hurt and I feel compelled to let her have fun, even when it wouldn’t be the best thing for her development. An example of this is letting her watch tv shows like Yo Gabba Gabba, which she loves. I’m surprised to find that I would like to make her happy by letting her watch some damn show, but I do want to. Often, this means I turn off the tv.

Another thing I’ve learned, is that regarding children, not everything is a battle you can win. You can try to always do everything right, or to have all the answers, or do the right thing, but sometimes, you just fail. In general I think I would have previously thought you could “win” interactions with your kid more often than you can, when winning isn’t the issue.

Good parenting is more about being consistent over time in how you raise your kid(s) so they become respectable, responsible, creative members of society. There are a bunch of other adjectives I’m shooting for, but those 3 are good ones.

I have always been introspective, but raising Gianna has also caused me to think a lot more about my actions and what effect I have on the world. It’s interesting to be put in a position where you really do influence someone else’s development–I think I weigh my actions a bit more than I did before (still making lots of impulsive mistakes of course, but I said I changed, not that I was transformed!).

This first year has been a good one, and I’m looking forward to watching her continue to develop.

You can check out my gallery of Gianna’s First Birthday Party

As always, I’m curious what you guys think. What are your experiences?

17 Kisses.

17 Kisses. That’s how many kisses I got from Gianna this afternoon when I tried to put to down for a nap.

Usually, I’m lucky to get one kiss from her in a day–she has mastered the art of withholding kisses from her daddy. In fact, she Gianna Playingthinks its hilarious to whip her head sideways and play hard to get when I try to get one.

Today, things were different as she apparently learned a new use for kisses–I stupidly mentioned the words “Yo Gabba Gabba” (her favorite damn show) while I covered her with her Yo Gabba Gabba blanket. She had been lying down in her crib, ready for the nap, happy and content.


As soon as I said those fateful words, she sprang up and got to her feet as fast as she could. She tried a bit of crying to guilt me into slipping her out of the crib. This never works for her, but she still tried anyway. When I just stood there considering the situation, she leaned forward and stuck out her tongue in the beginnings of her baby kiss.

So I bent down and kissed her.

Right, I know. I shouldn’t have. But like a dummy, I did. Who’s going to turn down a baby kiss, especially from a munchkin who has mastered the art of withholding?

Apparently not me.

Then she kissed me again, laughed, and kissed me again.

I was truly so shocked that I just sort of stood there holding her, laughing. And she kept kissing me as she pointed at all the cool stuff around her room. She did her usual, and pointed at the Lord of the Rings poster that hangs on the back of her door. Instead of putting her back to cry (which is what she would have done), I indulged her and took her out into the living room. And she just kept kissing me–if I said “Did you just kiss me again?” she would do it again.

Over and over.Gianna Watching Clyde

So right now Gianna is crawling around the living room playing with her toys, when she should be taking a nap. As many of you know, she’s usually really good about naps and even walks herself into her room (she did this morning, in fact).

Boy, I hope she doesn’t think she can kiss her way out of situations she doesn’t like.

Next time that’s not going to work. I don’t know how I’ll handle it, but it’s not going to work.

What about you? What would you do? Tips? Tricks?


Gianna Loves to Take Naps

I have said it a million times in the last year, but we are extremely lucky parents (thus far).

Most of the time these last few months, as she becomes more alert and more independent, she is actually often excited to get into her crib and take a nap.

This probably won’t sound like something important to most non-parents, but it really has been nice, especially compared to the months when she refused to nap at all some days. On no-nap days, she gets so damn tired that everything makes her sad, upset, needy, whiny, fragile, you name it. Usually this kind of thing ruins your evening more than anything, but still, to put it bluntly, tired babies suck to be around.

But lately, Gianna has been excited to take naps, and even hurries into her bedroom to do so:


I tell you what. I sure hope this continues. Melissa says that since I took this video and posted it on here that she is never going to take a nap again. I sure as hell hope this isn’t the case.

*fingers crossed*

Feeling Bad For Telling Baby “No.”

Gianna Sad Face

Last night I made a nice Jasmine Rice Pudding for dessert. Gianna loved it (recipe to follow).

After giving her about 15 or 20 bites, I figured she had eaten enough. I mean, this was just dessert and she’s only 11-months-old. She doesn’t need dessert at all, and she certainly doesn’t need too much. Well, she didn’t agree.  She pointed at the bowl and gave a soft grunt, which is her caveman-babyspeak for “gimme.”

When I didn’t give her any more and told her she had already eaten enough, she threw her hands in the air and screeched. Again, I told her no. Then she wrinkled up her nose, leaned down closer to the bowl, and sort of growled. Yep, Gianna growled–she lives her life among dogs, after all.

When I said “no” and didn’t move to give her any more, she snapped back up and sort of swiped both hands at my face (as if that would get her any more pudding, right?). I could see that she was on the edge of a sudden outburst, which is a new thing for her (she’s just starting to explore asserting herself).

At this point, I’d had enough, so I gave her a very firm “no,” and drew her away. She reached for the bowl with such a desperate expression that I immediately felt terrible. Still, I pulled her back, deepened my voice, and told her she had eaten enough. Her face crumpled up, turned red, and she started to cry. For a second I wondered if she would try to actually hit my face (she considered it, I think).

You know what? I felt just about as bad about it as she did. I didn’t want to deny her something that would make her feel good. And here I was being the Big Meany who for no obvious reason (to her) insisted on preventing her from getting more tasty rice and raisins (and sugar). I wanted her to have more, to feel good, to make happy sounds.

This was a first for me, really.

For a second, I considered giving her more since it would make her happy, but reason and good parenting won out and I instantly knew she was done for the night. She didn’t need more, and I wasn’t going to tolerate her micro-tantrum by giving in. She didn’t cry long (about a minute) since I diverted her attention, and pretty quickly, the world was good again.

The moral of the story: I had to tell Gianna “no” and let her feel bad so she’ll become a better kid. She needs to learn that tantrums get her nowhere. And if that requires me to feel bad for her, well, so be it. As a parent it’s my job to do what’s right for her development, whether I like it or not.

What about you? How do you handle tantrums? Did I screw up? Did I do the right thing? What do you think?

Jasmine Rice Pudding:

This is so easy you don’t even need a recipe, really.
1 cup Jasmine Rice (you could use whole grain or Minute Rice, but Jasmine becomes creamy when you cook it).
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Skim Milk (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/2-1 cup Raisins
Optional: add a bit of half and half to thicken it. I did tonight, but I don’t think it needs it.
It’s simple: just cook the rice until it’s tender (about 15 minutes), then add the other ingredients and cook on low heat for a few minutes (until the mixture thickens). It makes about 4 servings.
My grandma used to make “raisins and rice” all the time. It was good, but the Jasmine Rice makes this a lot better. It’s creamier and smells good, so that’s all I use for this and stir fry, which I have been making a lot lately).


Not Babyproofing Takes Work

So I’m at home with Gianna today.

It’s been fun, and aside from doing some behind-the-scenes stuff with the blog and making a ham and bean soup, I have mostly played with her. While I sit at the laptop, she has been roaming the living room and the kitchen, playing with toys and exploring. And as usual, she has spent some time looking longingly at the tv remote and the laptop keyboard (some of her most-wanted-things in the world).

Usually, she looks at these things, glances at me, then wanders off without touching them. She knows she isn’t supposed to grab them, so she doesn’t. Of course yesterday she came walking into the kitchen carrying the remote and smiling at me, but I hadn’t been in the room when she went for it, so she did.

That’s part of our non-babyproofing approach. Since we leave non-harmful things within her reach, it gives her an opportunity to learn her boundaries. Sometimes she still gets things we don’t want her to have, but in general she’s learning.

Today was no exception, since she decided it was time to play with her diapers.

The Diaper Holder

While I was on the laptop and not watching her, she grabbed every diaper from the holder on the side of the playpen and crawled away as fast as possible toward the door in the picture. Of course her knees thumping against he floor caught my attention, so I got up, took them away, and returned the diapers to the holder.

She did the same thing a few more times, but on the third attempt, she looked at me before she reached for them.

By having the object of her desire down at her level, and accessible, she learned that I don’t want her to get them. So far so good!

This approach only works if you’re paying attention at the right time (same thing works with dogs, which I learned from Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer). You have to pay attention to what your baby is doing, be willing to allow them to break the rules, catch them at the right time, then correct them.

It takes more effort than just plunking them in the playpen (or babyproofing everything), but it’s worth it.

Do you babyproof your place? Do you have a “problem” child? Do you let your kid get into everything? Most parents have more experience than I do, so if you want to weigh in, please do!

Feeding the Baby: Boring Task or Fun Stuff?

Before having Gianna, I would have thought doing daily kid-related chores (changing diapers, dressing her, feeding her, etc) would be boring, humdrum tasks I wouldn’t want to do. I figured it would be like my own mind-numbing morning ritual of showering, shaving, and putting in my contacts. If you had asked me if I thought feeding her would be fun, I would have said no. I would expect it to be just like changing a diaper.

But you know what?

I get a huge kick out of feeding her.

Feeding the baby
Gianna loves applesauce

I probably love feeding her as much as she loves applesauce.

After doing a bit of thinking about it, I realized that I like it for many reasons:

1. She gets a lot of satisfaction out of eating adult food.

2. It’s a great way to take time out of my day to connect with her on a very personal level.

3. I like introducing her to new foods and seeing her reaction.

4. I love to hear her say “mmmm.” if she finds something particularly tasty.

5. It’s gratifying to see her not touch the spoon or bowl or anything except her water bottle when she wants a drink. (We have taught her when to touch things and when to leave them alone during mealtime. When I feed her breakfast, I like to set my coffee on the tray right on front of her, well within her reach. And you know how many times she has knocked it over? Zero. Of course I don’t walk off very far and allow her the chance to spill it.) There is just something about seeing her become well-mannered that makes me feel good.

I guess there’s also the fact that this stage won’t last forever–she’s 11-months-old, after all, and pretty soon, she’ll be using her own silverware and feeding herself more than just finger food. A friend recently told me that the first few years are a golden age and that I should really try to savor it. I have been thinking about that a lot lately, especially as I watch her make such huge leaps weekly.

Every time I feed her, I am reminded that she will be a big kid soon enough.

And now we join one of my least favorite segments of society . . .

Yes, oh yes–mark your calendars, folks. Apparently Melissa and I have become idiots and lost our minds completely; she is now pregnant with a little creature which will become a human one of these days (February). Jesus Christ, I need to re-read that. Pregnant. Pregnant. Starts with a “P.” Hmmmm . . .  I am going to be some kid’s dad? Holy shit!

Over the last few months, we have discussed our advancing age and whether we truly want to continue going forward without kids. She said I either had to get a vasectomy (which she has been after for years) or that we needed to find some new method of birth control. She is tired of taking the pill–she has been taking it for almost 17 years, and just didn’t want to deal with the hormones anymore. I agreed 100%, although I have never been all that excited about getting snipped. I figured that as soon as I went to that extreme, she would change her mind and suddenly want kids.

So. After a couple conversations, we decided to say “Fuck it!” and just get pregnant. True to form and as happens with just about everything else in our life, as soon as we decided to go forward with it, it happened: we made the decision, she got her period, ovulated, then bingo! Pregnant.

The little creature is exceedingly tiny right now and honestly we shouldn’t have announced it to the world at large just yet, but what the hell? If we miscarry and the little thing dies, I guess that’s life. If it takes solid root and flourishes, so much the better.

Now is where I talk about one of my least favorite segments of society–parents.

As a few people may know, I am judgmental. I like to analyze people and group them together , making gross assumptions and harsh statements about them. When you take any of these groups and break them out into individuals, they are generally fine. I like some high school kids, I like some parents, I like some “grandma’s babies,” etc, but in general, when gathered together as a whole, these groups really irritate me.

I don’t like misbehaving, screechy  kids. I don’t like parents who think their kid is the center of everyone’s universe (newsflash, they aren’t!!). I don’t like parents who let their kids do anything they want and train them to be little monsters. I don’t like “mommy talk,” which is where moms try to outdo each other in demonstrating their knowledge of kids (another newsflash–I don’t give a damn how much you know about kids!).

I am more into the George Carlin philosophy on kids (you will have to look into that if you want to know what that wise man said about kids and their parents).

Lastly, I am making the public pledge here and now to not become one of these stupid parent types who does all the crap I listed above. And I hereby give you all the permission to bring it to my attention when I do and set me back on the right path. The last thing I want to become is an annoying parent. Well, I would really hate to be a “grandma’s baby” even worse, but I am safe there, I suppose.

Life will apparently be interesting between here and early February.