Monday, January 28, 2008

He Speaks: Part Deux!

Update: After throwing the red flag just moments before the next play was snapped, Mrs. LIAYF and I huddled together and determined that Lukas has clearly associated 'da-da', and 'da' and 'ada' with yours truly! So, after further review......we have decided to declare 'da-da' his first verbally spoken word while the ASL Milk sign will remain his first non-verbal spoken word!

His mother will say, "where's da-da" and Lukas will turn to me and with the biggest grin he can muster, sa 'da' 'da' 'da-da'. That's pure gold right there!

Of course the tricky part is that, this is still his only spoken word (although he does do a guttural moan sometimes put together in two quick successive bursts that come out sounding surprisingly like part of the refrain to 'The Rolling Stones' song 'Sympathy for the Devil'. Kind of like 'whoooo, whooooo' and immediately I finish in my head...'Don't you know my name?') so that is the word he also uses to express himself whenever he wants to actually 'say' something. Therefore, he also looks at some toys on his quilt and...out comes 'da' or at a passing ball of fur (hey we have two feline freeloaders, remember) and again 'da'.

It seems like that is the word of choice right now, especially since it is the only one available, but he is clearly saying it every time he looks to me and is grinning from ear to ear. Call me delusional, but to me that is definitely his first word. Hopefully it will be a while before he learns certain others, like 'Pu-lease'.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Make Mine a Guinness!

I remember when I was, oh maybe 9 or 10 years old, the Guinness Book of World Records was all the rage at my school. I think it had something to do with Evel Knievel and his daredevil heroics of jumping over barrels, buses, fountains, and even an unsuccessful attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. I believe he set a few 'world records' for jumping things with a motorcycle and that was the coolest thing this rural farm boy, and surly boys all over the country (and world for that matter) could imagine.

I remember getting the latest edition of the Book of World Records and scouring through it to see what record I could attempt to break. I believe that after an episode of 'Happy Days' titled 'The Book of Records' I spent days trying see how many quarters I could stack on my elbow and catch in my hand. I do remember catching quite a few, but nowhere near the record. I also remember having a pogo stick (remember those?) and trying to jump endlessly on it thinking I could maybe someday break that record as well. It was loads of fun and something I had completely forgotten until yesterday.

For the record, no pun originally intended, the best toy we have for Lukas right now is not a toy at all. It is a Johnny Jump Up. This is a device that hangs from a doorway and has a seat and a spring and when you put your baby in they can hang out there and stand, or jump up and down, hence the name. Lukas loves, loves, loves getting in his jump up. He is such an active boy and wants nothing more at this time in his developmental cycle than to move, or in this case jump. I was watching him jump in this thing endlessly yesterday with the biggest grin of pure delight on his face that I thought he might never stop. It triggered in me that memory of the pogo stick which got me to reminiscing of long gone days of joyful play and possibility. Having a son has brought much of that joy back, just watching him so thrilled to be jumping up and down.

As for 'World Records', I will have to look up in the current edition and see if there is an entry for hours jumping in a Johnny Jump Up, or see if there is a record on file for most drool expelled in a 24 hour period. Lukas would be in the running for that one as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

He Speaks...

Lukas has been doing quite a bit of babbling lately, exercising those vocal chords for when he can actually articulate some of the things he has been trying to tell us. Like "Pay more attention to me! I'm more interesting than that black box you keep playing with" or "Spinach and Potatoes? You've got to be kidding. Did you like Spinach when you were small? Now give me more Bananas or someone is going to get hurt"

He has, to my delight, been practicing the da-da sound quite a bit "ada-ada, da, da, ada-ada" and for a while was doing the "ama-ama" sound too. However, even though we have been waiting with much anticipation, he has yet to look right at us and do a recognizable "da-da" or "ma-ma" so we can't in good conscience count those as his first words as much as we would like to. It is wonderful to hear the "ada-ada" and it makes me so happy to be a father, watching him develop into a little person who is cognizant of the world around him.

Mrs. LIAYF and I were thrilled however to confirm yesterday that even though he is not vocalizing his first proper words quite yet, he is in fact speaking to us in an officially recognized language: ASL. We have been signing with Luke for a couple of month now, hoping that he would begin to pick up some basic communication skills and it now appears to be paying off! We started with some basic signs: eat, change, cat, keys, telephone, diaper, wet, sleep and most important of guessed it, MILK. This sign consists of starting with and open hand and squeezing your fist together.

About an hour before Mrs. LIAYF returned from work yesterday, I said to him "mommy will be coming home soon" to which his response was a very clear ASL milk sign. When mom got home she confirmed I was not imagining this but that he was indeed signing for milk. "He just spoke his first word" she exclaimed. We are both so proud, and can't wait until he gives us the other signs we have been working with him on, although the sign for "keys" (as in 'to the car, ada') can wait.

The ASL Pro home page is great, with video clips of all the signs and a section for infant signs as well. I have this favorite placed. Happy signing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Popular Guy

Sunny but chilly here in West Seattle today. I decided to take Budlet out for a walk to the French Bakery up the street (very delicious and highly recommended if you ever visit) and I couldn't get over how friendly everyone was. They were all smiling at me and many wanted to stop and chat or just do a happy little laugh as they walked by. I never knew I was so popular or that I brought out such joy in people. Maybe that's why Mrs. LIAYF fell for me when we met. Well, it's a theory anyway.


Mrs. LIAYF and I were folding some of Luke's freshly laundered baby clothes yesterday (many of which are getting a bit small or worn out) when she looked up and announced "We are going to have to get some more clothes for Lukas before he starts daycare". I was a bit surprised, because budlet has a bunch of clothes and we do have quite a few friends and family with boys slightly older than he is and thus get quite a few lightly used (ok, hand-me-downs) clothes. I have no problem with 2nd hand clothes, because having a kid is, excuse my French, freakin expensive! (and this is just one, how do you people with a truckload of kids manage?) You have to cut costs where you can. I guess I do have to admit that I push the limit of usefullness on his clothes just a bit "No, honey, it's not time to put that romper in the donate pile, I can still get him into it if I bend his leg just so..."

Anyway, I look up at her and say, "Really? He has a lot of clothes already." To which her response was classic Mrs. LIAYF "We don't want him to look like a Ragamuffin" Did she really say that? Ragamuffin? What are we, at the turn of the 19th century England here? We could go ahead and let him look like a Ragamuffin, and teach him to pick pocket as well! And while we are at it, we could (once he's a bit older mind you) lower him down the chimney to give it a good once over too, as it hasn't been cleaned in a while. We could pay him tuppence what ever the hell that is. We really should have named him something like Oliver.

Or not. I do want Luke to make a good impression at day care and to be adored there as much as he is here. He can have all the new, or 2nd hand size appropriate, clothes Mrs. LIAYF wants to get him!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Must be a Halogen Bulb

I have no idea if this is early or not as Mrs. LIAYF and I do not closely monitor developmental stages for infants (we both figure Luke will figure things out when he is good and ready to) but an ah-ha! moment seemed to happen with Budlet last night. We have this soft photo book with pictures in it of us and also of our two feline freeloaders, Penny and Albert. While Lukas was looking at the photo of Albert, he walked his fat can on by and there was instant recognition as Lukas looked to the picture, then to Fat Albert, then to the picture again, then to Fat Albert and a big two front toothy, full faced grin ensued. Ditto the picture of Penny as well, as she was ever present and looking for attention as she always is (when she is not scratching on some of our furniture or attacking the glass door when some poor scraggly outdoor neighbor cat looks longingly into our feline palace). Insert cliche here "It was like a lightbulb turning on for him"

Anyway, Lukas seems to be experiencing some new development on a daily basis. It is so much fun to watch and makes me forget, just for a while,how really old I am getting. At least until the next time I bend over to pick him up and my body sounds just a bit like milk poured over a fresh bowl of Rice Krispies. Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This is How We Roll...

Albert Einstein famously said once: "The definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result. ... " Countless parenting books, magazines, doctors, nurses, friends with kids, and just about any reference we could find say "put an infant, up to the first year of age, to sleep on his back.

Call me insane, but don't say I didn't have the best intentions. Budlet has been on a roll lately. Literally rolling around the floors of the house practicing his moves and trying to crawl. He gets his arse up in the air just fine sometimes and gets up on his arms often also, but hasn't quite mastered the art of putting those two skill sets together to actually begin to crawl. But he is getting awfully close. It is a bit humorous to see him try to crawl with his back end up and his face still planted on the carpet. I am surprised he doesn't yet have a rug burn on his nose.

Anyway, all this leads me to my delimma last night. After a good hour and a half of sleep on his back, Lukas decided it was time to practice his rolling and attempts at crawling. It apparently wasn't successful since he started to cry and when I went to check on him he was on his hands and 180 degrees rotated in his crib looking quite desperate. I rolled him over and turned him then tucked in his cover to the sides of the crib and comforted him. All seemed well for maybe a minute and I was ready to slink out of his room when over he went again. I again went through my motions of getting him settled and over once again he went. Well, this happened about 10 times with me attempting to lay a firm hand on his chest to keep him from rolling over (more cries until I removed said hand) but in the end Luke ended up where he intended which was on his stomach and asleep soundly.

What to do? I stood there in a state of delimma for a few moments until I decided to do what my gut instinct told me to do. Yes, I went downstairs and asked Mrs. LIAYF if I was being safe to leave him that way. I thought it was ok, and she did as well, but we were both (as new parents) struck with that lingering doubt that comes with bucking what all the expert advice tells you to do. It was the 'What if....?' That is a pretty strong devil on the other shoulder, so... needing assurance, Mrs. LIAYF called her younger sister who has the expert experience that we needed in just such a situation. She has 4 kids! She assured us to our relief that we were doing the right thing in leaving him to sleep on his stomach, since he can and will let us know if and when he needs rolled back to his back. We left him that way and that is the way he woke up this morning at 6:30. It seems that Budlet will be a side or stomach sleeper and we can't do a lot to prevent it. Que Sera, Sera!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Reality Hits!

Well, it had to happen sometime. Mrs. LIAYF and I were discussing daycare last night and it simultaneously hit both of us like a sucker punch to the gut, that in about a month we will be handing Lukas off to complete strangers for hours on end. You have to realize that throughout his young life Lukas has been out of the care of either myself or his mother for a total of about 2 hours! To make matters worse, he is just recently developed the beginnings of stranger anxiety. On two separate occasions recently, he has had experiences where he was out of our sight being held by other people and has had a look of fear so real that you could film a horror flick based on that look alone!

We immediately shifted into protection mode and decided that I would go to the daycare today and pay them a 20-30 minute visit to get Lukas an early orientation to his future daytime pad. In addition Mrs. LIAYF and I are going to arrange a visit next Wednesday to the daycare for an extended visit to get to know his future provider intimately. Those trips, plus at least a few more before the mid February d-date, should give us and Luke some peace of mind that we are not really leaving him with strangers, but trusted providers who are very good with babies his age. Wish us Luck! We will need it much more than Lukas I am sure.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Quite the Swinger!

Lukas and Mom having some fun. How adorable. I am absolutely smitten with my boy!

All Apologies!

Sorry Lukas. There, I said it. Turns out you were not being stubborn or fussy and holding out for mom after all. All those months I worried that you were not taking a bottle and I would be having to deal with those first few crazy days with you once your mother went back to work. Turns out you were trying to tell me something profound all along. Something along the lines of "I know you think I am being picky, but really I just don't want any of this sour milk"
Yes, in the "if it's strange, I'm not surprised it happened to us" department, it turns out that my wife has an abundance of the enzyme Lipase in her milk which, among other good things, also causes the milk to go sour prematurely when cooled. We tasted the milk and confirmed that it was sour, although I don't have the acute senses to detect it as readily as Mrs. LIAYF or Lukas for that matter, so I continued to try to give Lukas the same sour milk over and over thinking that I would eventually wear him down. I felt like an awful dad for a while once we found out. Luckily, there is a solution. The milk has to be scalded (dipped in 190 degree water for 15 seconds) in order for this effect to be neutralized. As odd as it sounds, it does work.
Lukas has been drinking all his milk from a sippy cup bottle like a champ ever since we began scalding it before freezing. So, again, I am truly sorry Budlet. Looks like we have an early indicator of who the smart guy in the family is. You have taught me a lesson Grasshopper!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Humble Pie?

Perhaps I should have named my blog something like "The Humbled Father" or "Just When You Thought You Were Getting the Hang of Things . . ." It seems that in my short experience as a father (Lukas was born June 27, 2007) every time my wife and I (especially me) begin to think we have things about figured out (and I mean figured out to the point we can start to do a bit of bragging to our friends and families that we have reached a certain milestone) life, or to be more specific parenthood, has a nice little way of reminding us that we are still amateurs. It slaps us upside the head and says "just what were you thinking anyway?"
Case in point. Sleeping through the night! We spent the first 5 1/2 months of Lukas' life struggling with sleep deprivation. The first 6 weeks we were both off work so, even though we only slept in 1-2 hour increments, we slept when he did an were able to manage to get 8 hours of sleep in in the course of a day. After the first 6 weeks, I went back to work and tried to adjust. I continued to get up and help Mrs. LIAYF out at every feeding and would go to work on only a few hours of sleep, trying to catch up on the weekends. To compound matters, we have a very old and noisy house (think very creaky 100 year old fir floors!) and often when we would successfully get Lukas to sleep, the slightest step in the wrong place would result in eyes popping open suddenly, followed very shortly by intense screaming!
We compensated by using a pacifier, swaddling, nursing, and rocking him to sleep, all of which had varying levels of success but accomplished one unintended thing. Lukas never learned to put himself to sleep without those sleep aides.
We were of the mind early on that we wanted Lukas to sleep in his crib in his own room so that is where we would put him down for the night, swaddled and with a pacifier. Life was getting better. We were now getting 2- 3 hour stretches, sometimes even 4. Then, just when we thought we were getting things figured out... Lukas began to spit out the pacifier and wake up wondering where it was! This began to happened more and more frequently, until I was getting up almost on the hour to run back to his room to give him the pacifier and get him back to sleep. It had to stop! I was almost falling over tired at work as was Mrs. LIAYF at home. We decided to begin to take away sleep aides. First it was the rocking, then the swaddling, then the night nursing so that all that was left was the pacifier and it had to go!
Yes, there was a lot of crying and yes was PAINFUL to hear (we stayed and comforted him every 5-10 minutes)! But in the end, Lukas learned to put himself to sleep and began to sleep through the night more often (7:30 -6:30). We were ecstatic! This is where the humbling part comes in. It may just be coincidence, but it seems that whenever we decide, because we are so ecstatic, to brag a bit and let people know how well Lukas is doing, things go horribly sideways!
Well, not horribly really, but just not nearly as well as they were. We decide to brag that Lukas is sleeping through the night, so he begins to roll over in his crib several times a night and cries for someone to help, or decides that 1 AM is actually playtime and not sleep time. Parenting is a work in progress! So, if you are one of our friends or family who listens to us brag about sleep, or some other milestone Lukas has reached, please just give us that knowing look or come right out and remind us that we are really still amateurs and not to get to comfortable, because we are just getting started on this parenting thing.
We will thank you later!