Friday, November 30, 2007

Tonight's Entry 100% Maudlin-Free!

Thanks for the encouragement, you guys. I was feeling tired and bleak, but as usually happens, I wrote about it, and he changed it. Today was a great day, so don't cry for me, Argentina. I got a momentary glimpse or two at what happy tummy time might someday look like. He gave me belly laughs for blowing raspberries on the bottoms of his feet. He helped me do some work in the back yard. He did some vocal experimentation with tone and volume. He achieved excellence in bouncing with his Fisher Price Deluxe Jumperoo, which, since cheapness counts, I got third-hand on Craigslist for $15. If you're keeping track, that's a $50 savings. The electronic music and flashing lights don't work, but that's practically an additional selling point to me. For his sake, I made a good-faith effort to fix the problem, but failure was not too heart-breaking. So all's well in Thumperland; sorry for getting all mopey, but that's what happens when I have to blog every single day.

More importantly, though, there's a question that has been pressing heavily on my mind every day this week:

Is that real money on Cash Cab? It can't be, right? I mean, they wouldn't really send people out into the streets of New York at two in the morning waving around a fan of hundreds, yelling, "$1300!" Would they? Are they just begging for some criminal mastermind, a la Robert DeNiro in Heat, to jack the cab?

So I once again consulted the great and powerful oracle, and for once am disappointed to find an answer. Not only is not real cash, but they don't get paid on the spot at all. They are mailed a check with the appropriate taxes withheld. So not only no cash in the "Cash Cab," but no instant gratification at all. No blowing their winnings at the club or bar or restaurant or comedy club they were already headed to. I'm sad, and it may have ruined the show for me. We'll see on Monday. It's up against Oprah, so it's probably safe, but there is always Jeopardy!, too. It's too close to call at this particular juncture.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So Tired

The Thumpster and I wore each other out today. I'm glad NaBloPoMo is nearly over, because I'm just not in the best frame of mind. I'm tired. I'm not confident about the new stages we're entering. We went with the theory that the first part of his life was the time to build his trust in us, but now I can't put him down without him fussing. He can't be by himself. We've ruined him! And the tummy time. Lord, the instantaneous, sustained, pure rage. He hates it and will never learn to crawl. Does he have to learn to crawl, or can he go straight to walking? And the self-soothe. I chickened out on the self-soothe thing the past few nights. I told myself it was because we've increased tummy time, we've increased bottle volume, we don't want to introduce too many changes at once. But mostly it's because I'm afraid I'll never sleep again. I like sleep. In fact, I'm going to sleep now. Nighty night!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oh Yeah, and the Self-Soothing Thing, Too

I forgot about the other item on our Action Plan: self-soothing. We've been putting him to bed when he's asleep, not when he's sleepy. Doc thinks it's time to start letting him learn to put himself to sleep.

So to that end, this morning, about the time he would usually be falling asleep in the jogging stroller on our morning walk-jog-walk, I put him in the playpen, surrounded him with toys, wheeled it into the spare room where the treadmill is, and proceeded to work out. For his part, he proceeded to scream. I periodically told him it was OK, and suggested he practice rolling over before he flattened his skull out any more. At twelve minutes, he stopped screaming and examined his hands. At thirteen and a half minutes, he resumed screaming. At half an hour, I gave up, conveniently using the screaming as an excuse to stop huffing and puffing.

When I picked him up, he continued screaming, but after about a minute and a half of forced pacifier usage, he was asleep. He stayed asleep long enough for me to shower, but now he's awake and staring off into space with the haunted look of someone with post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm really not looking forward to this self-soothing project.

So here's what I'm thinking. He now gets six five-ounce bottles a day, usually around every three hours, give or take from about 7:30am to 8 or 9:30pm. So that's thirty ounces. I wonder if we do four eight-ounce bottles a day, if we can get him the last one early enough in the evening to give us a few hours to work on the self-soothe thing before it's the wee hours and we're all resentful-like.

What do you/did you guys do and/or think about the different sleep theories? Cry it out? Co-sleep (that one's not gonna happen)? Let him work it out, but go in and soothe him every now and then, briefly and boringly? I imagine we'll be doing the last one. But putting him to bed after he's fallen asleep on us is so temptingly easy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If He Gets a Fever, We Can Use Him to Iron Our Clothes

Items on our Action Plan, as expressed by the pediatrician:

1. Work on head control and neck strength. Check! Doc later said he's ahead of the game in this regard. Score one for the exceptional baby! Doc also said, while watching Thumper work the chin-up bar, "Wow, he's really strong!" OK, maybe I'm lying about the chin-up bar. But Doc did say he was really strong.

2. Increase the tummy time. We've been letting this one slide because one, it makes him puke, and two, it pisses him off. I think the puking and the pissing off may be related. Doc says pissing him off is just fine because it'll make him work that much harder, and puking is perfectly normal. But then he goes nose-first puke diving, which is kind of gross. Oh well. More tummy time it is, pissed off puke-diving be damned!

3. Try to get him to turn his head when he sleeps. Huh? Do what now? He has to sleep on his back or he'll spontaneously drop dead, but the back of his head is getting flat, so he shouldn't lay looking straight up or his brain will grow funny. Uh, OK. He loves to look at his Mama. Maybe we'll put a photo of her on each side of his crib, so he can stare lovingly at her with his head turned. While he's asleep. With his eyes closed. Uh, right. Anyway, if we can go another month with it at least not getting worse, he'll probably grow out of it. Personally, I'm rooting for that one, because, well, micro-managing where he puts pressure on his skull seems like a futile exercise.

But other than that, Doc says, "He looks great. Congratulations, y'all!"

P.S., Thanks to Mrs. Rodius for saying, "You could write about the flat head thing," because I had nothing. Is it December yet?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Four-Month Torture Session

I already blogged twice today, but neither one of them really felt like they counted.

Today was Thumper's four-month check-up. I tried weighing him a couple of weeks ago and came up with 17 lbs., but as I've suspected, our bathroom scale is a dirty rotten liar that wants us to believe we weigh more than we really do. Turns out he weighs 15 lbs. 14 oz. For some reason, I find myself slightly disappointed. Apparently I want him to be exceptional in all things, and the 70th to 80th percentiles that he's in on all his measurements just aren't exceptional enough for me. God help this kid when he gets into school and is bringing home B's and C's. Sorry in advance, Thumper. Your daddy's kind of crazy and wants you to be a freakishly tall super-genius. Who can live up to that kind of pressure?

Sorry also, son, for letting them stab you again. And again and again and again. It was all my fault, and your mother had nothing to with it. She tried to save you, but I held her back. Pain builds character; it's a father's job to teach you that. Now go to sleep.

Breaking the Cycle, Part 2

And Half Nelson. I guess now I have to watch Waitress. Thanks a lot, Tracey. But then, then I'm done.


Holy crap! Matthew Baldwin actually left a comment on my blog! I'm as giddy as a school girl. That's totally better than watching Matthew McConaughey throw a football around.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Breaking the Cycle

Would somebody please tell me why I always add independent films to my Netflix queue?

Because you're an idiot.

Oh, yeah.

By the way, that's a reference to the movie Heathers, Mom.

Anyway, I'm swearing off independent movies forever. If it even mentions Cannes or Sundance, I wash my hands of it. It takes about six months for the bottom of my Netflix queue to percolate to the top, so I never remember why exactly I thought I would like a particular movie. I probably saw a trailer, or read a review by someone like defective yeti that said it was the greatest freakin' movie since Godfather II or something. But it never is. It's always, always, an interminably slow-moving character study of some quirky, greasy-haired, terminally depressed young man and the quirky folk which inhabit his environment. By the end of the movie, our quirky main character is just almost imperceptibly different than he was at the beginning, and I invariably wonder what else I might have accomplished with those two hours that usually turn into four because I watch, doze off, rewind, watch again, doze off again, rewind again.

Well no more! No more Station Agent. No more Lonesome Jim. I mean, I kinda dig Steve Buscemi as an actor, and Jim Jarmusch made Ghost Dog, so I can't fault him entirely. I've already banned any movie that describes itself as "wacky" or "romantic comedy;" from now on, the words "quirky" and "independent" are also out. Just so's you know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Parenting Increases the Sophistication of Your Sense of Humor

Mrs. Rodius and I derived a ridiculous amount of mirth this evening from the fact that the boy, while Mrs. Rodius was cleaning him up during a diaper change, pooped right into her upturned hand. And then he blew some butt bubbles in his own poo. Seriously, that is pure comedic gold right there.

In other news, with his brain no longer distracted by the slow machinations of his bowels, he slowly, deliberately, repeatedly, and with much concentration, wrapped his fingers around his Sassy Bumble Bites Teether (which, incidentally, Mrs. Rodius refers to as his "bumble fly" because she believes it to look as much like a butterfly as a bumble bee) and dragged it inexorably into his gaping maw. Huzzah! I looked out the window, but no giant black obelisk. Maybe this isn't as earth shattering as I first thought.

Friday, November 23, 2007

That Went Well

Thumper's first overnight travel experience went well. He slept all the way there and all the way back, he was a charming party guest, and he handled his first night in a hotel with great courtesy for the neighbors. But I think we should have given him a different nickname, like maybe "Shhh." He took his Thumper appellation a little too much to heart. He slept in a portable playpen, the mattress of which is a hard plastic sheet with a thin layer of padding over it. So while he was gracious enough not to cry and wake the neighbors, he spent the entire night slurping on his fists, talking quietly to himself, and thump thump thumping his legs on that plastic mattress. All night. Thump thump thump. By 7:00 a.m., it was clear he'd travelled some distance in the night that way. I wonder how many laps he did?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks, Y'all

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I hope yours went as well as ours. While not everyone that we would wish to be here were able to make it, those who could were all well-loved, and we made quite a spread of food. Biggest Brother wasn't sure we could deal with a combo meat platter of turkey, ham, and pulled pork that meant there wasn't a giant naked turkey carcass in the middle of the table, but new Thanksgiving traditions are as much fun as the old ones.

So here are a few things I'm thankful for tonight:

A healthy, happy baby boy. He's been a long time coming, but he came at the perfect time.

A beautiful wife who takes care of me and lets me take care of her. And puts up with my crap.

A loving family that all get along and enjoy each others' company, and the opportunities to get together and do just that.

A sister who reached out, and who is healing after a long and difficult year.

All of you who've read and commented and accepted me into this weird world of blogging and never made me feel like I didn't have a right or a reason to be here.

Happy Thanksgiving! Now bring on Christmas!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sometimes I Think

Thanks to Tracey at More Than a Minivan Mom for calling me a Thinking Blogger. I'm supposed to:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote

I'm pretty sure I've done #2. I tried to do #3, but I just couldn't get the little picture to display, though I think the link is there. I'm not sure I'm smart enough to deserve a Thinking Blogger Award.

And as Tracey mentioned, I just can't bring myself to play along with the tagging games. But there are two blogs in particular that make me think harder than I am accustomed. To. Accustomed to think. Ah, whatever. It is still Wednesday, right?

Anyway, I like to read detritus. because suttonhoo is way smarter than I am, and more well-traveled, and a better photographer, and has a better vocabulary, with artsier friends and a more sophisticated palate. In fact, most of the time I have no idea what she's talking about, but I smile and nod and say, "Oh, absolutely" so she won't know what an idiot I am. I mostly like her because she posts, like, every day. Even without NaBloPoMo. Or even twice a day. Every once in awhile, I can almost participate in a conversation in the comments section, and on those days, I feel wicked smaht.

The other blog that regularly makes me furrow my brow in an attempt to think is sweet juniper! I'd like to be Dutch, except that I didn't retain nearly enough of my college education and I have no interest in design and I don't get the appeal of institutional chairs and I don't want to live in Detroit. But he writes beautifully and sentimentally, and he's my SAHD hero when it comes to how much time and what kind of time he spends with Juniper. Before Thumper arrived, it was through Dutch's blog that I lived vicariously and dreamed of what SAHDdom would be like.

So thanks again, Tracey, especially for giving me a blog entry. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Hopefully Biggest Brother will let me use his computer tomorrow so I can maintain this entry-per-day fiasco. I'd hate to make it all the way into the twenties and then blow it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Talk Talk

Thanks, Mrs. Rodius, for blogging for me yesterday. I can't remember why in the hell I thought blogging every single day would be a good idea, but I really appreciate the tag team action. It's another item on the list of reasons why I don't deserve you. In return, I will now proceed to engage in what could conceivably be construed as teasing you. Rest assured it's all in the name of healthy academic discourse that hopefully makes people think. (Speaking of which, thanks Tracey. I hardly think of myself as "the thinking man's" anything, but I appreciate the nod. And I appreciate the tag more than usual because God knows I need the material. I'll be taking advantage of it tomorrow, I think.)

Rebel Dad talked about this Daily Mail article that references a study that says (which a bunch of qualifiers on it) that dads may not prepare their sons academically as well as moms because they don't provide "the same degree of cognitive stimulation..." It's sons, and it's toddlers, and it's entry-level school exams, and it's dads who spend 15 hours per week or more, etc. etc. etc., but that's what it boils down to.

When I mentioned it to Mrs. Rodius, she predicted my reaction would be to call "bullshit" on the study, because I work pretty hard at speaking to, singing to, signing to, playing with, and otherwise stimulating young Thumper, cognitively and otherwise. But honestly, when I read Rebel Dad's reaction, I thought to myself, "I could buy that." I guess it depends on how "cognitive stimulation" is defined. If it's talking, I'm leagues behind Mrs. Rodius.

Mrs. Rodius thinks aloud. It took me awhile to figure out that while it appears that she is talking to me, she is quite frequently talking to herself. She verbalizes her internal monologue because it helps her think. It used to flummox me when she would say things like, "I'm thinking that option A is best." And I would say, "I agree. Let's go with option A." And then she would proceed to go through all of the benefits of option A and all of the detriments of option B as if I had just said, "Option A? Hell no! What on earth would make you think that option A is best?" So I would say things like, "You know I just agreed with you, right?" And she would point out that she's not trying to convince me, she's just going over it again verbally to reassure herself that option A really is the best. The other day, I made the mistake of saying to her, when she caught me not quite paying attention while she talked, "You're not talking to me; you're talking to yourself. It doesn't matter if I'm listening." Because while that may be kind of a little bit true, clearly there are some things that definitely don't need to be said out loud.

And it's not just her. Our nephew is the only child of a single mother, and she's a mother who talks. A lot. Even Mrs. Rodius gets off the phone with her saying, "Man, she talks a lot." So she always, from the day the nephew was born, talked and talked and talked to him. And he grew into a toddler who developed excellent verbal skills very early. Now that he's a teenager, he doesn't talk so much, but that's a different story.

And I've seen SWSIL ("Social Worker Sister-in-Law") play with Thumper, and she talks and talks, and makes funny voices. I understand that each individual is different, but I could totally see how this could fall down gender lines. If "cognitive stimulation" consists largely of a running monologue, I readily admit I can't keep up with the women folk. The women folk, they likes to talk. Sometimes, Thumper and I just like to look and think quietly to ourselves. Hopefully that doesn't doom him to the short bus.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Guest Bloggin'

Mrs. Rodius here. The Man said "Go blog for me, would ya? I got nothin' to say." So here I am. I don't know that I have much to say either, but my Darling does a lot to help me get through my days, so I figure I can return the favor.

I'm probably coming down with a cold. That's what's on my mind tonight. And breastfeeding. I have rifled through the medicine cabinet and found nothing I can take because I'm breastfeeding. There are things I can take, but I don't have any of them here. I'll have to fetch something tomorrow. But I get weary from the amount of time and energy I expend pumping milk and thinking about pumping and worrying about what I eat and worrying about not pumping enough and, and...

It's all worth it to see how well little Thumper is doing (though now I'm worried that he will get this cold) and how big he grows and grows. I'm hoping he has his Momma's constitution. I'm usually really good at staving off illness. I firmly believe that a huge part of it is that I refuse to be sick. So, I'm hoping the little guy takes after me in that regard. I'm optmistic that I'll suffer a few days of annoying pre-cold symptoms and this will pass without incident.

But, back to my annoyance. Some germ has come along and is trying to make little Thumper sick, interfere with our plans for a nice holiday, and complicate my busy work load. Who can I blame? I'll be sure to watch for suspects at work tomorrow. I've already been reviewing the candidates with the hubby tonight. There are several people at work whom I know to not wash their hands after using the bathroom. I'm not a germaphobe, but this is an unforgiveable sin. If you don't have the mind to wash your hands after using the restroom, just how likely are you to wash your hands before making a batch of brownies to share with the office? You can bet I won't be trying any of those...

Most recently, I've noted that a co-worker and former EMT only pretends to wash her hands after using the facilities, rinsing her hands under the water for less than 2 seconds and using NO soap. This, from the lady who was prattling on and on today about how she is constantly using the Company provided anti-bacterial wipes to clean up the coffee area and her desk. Harumph!

Off my soapbox now and hoping I've filled in sufficiently for The Man who is tired and needs a break tonight. One last thought, though... There is nothing sweeter than that first-of-the-morning-so-glad-to-see-you or just-got-home-and-haven't-seen-you-all-day toothless, beaming grin of little Thumper.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thinking of You

Bad Kitty is having a rough time of it lately, and my love and thoughts and well wishes are with her. I feel kind of schmucky for whining about a cranky baby when things around here are relatively pretty great. I'm sorry she won't be able to make it to see her family on Thanksgiving, but I hope she knows her family will be with her any way. Stay strong, Bad Kitty, and I'm glad you've got that special someone close there to love and support you.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shhh... Here He Comes

I don't want to alarm anyone, but maybe we should all just watch what we say and try to steer this ship back into the G-rated waters. I think Thumper might be sneaking out of his crib in the middle of the night and coming in here to read my blog.

If I write about his digestive troubles, they go away. If I write about his cranky week, he shows up the next morning in full-on angelic mode, such that I thanked him several times and kissed him on his wittow fuzzy haid. So, clearly the only explanation is that he's reading my blog. Either that, or he's inherited some of Grandma's subtler intuitive powers.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The sheer number of variables is staggering. Why is he crying? What now? He's chewing and drooling almost non-stop; is it teething? Are those white nubs on top? No, they usually come bottom first. Well, usually doesn't mean always; they're probably teeth coming. But that's early right? It's probably not teeth yet. But he's spitting up a lot; is it belly pain? He's got some red spots that look like the beginning of diaper rash; is he irritated? Is he bored? Is he sleepy? If he's sleepy, why doesn't he just go to sleep? Is he hungry? Is it all of the above? None of the above? Four or five days of an unhappy baby, and I'm feeling all wrung out and desperate. You mean you people have gone through this, and multiple times, and still kept your sanity and stayed out of prison?

I suppose it's like marriage. No one can really understand how hard it is to make a marriage work until they're right in the middle of it. If they could understand, no one would get married. Not that it's not worth it, but when you're stuck in the middle of the hardest parts, you really do wonder. It certainly took me longer than 3 1/2 months to get to the "holy crap, what have I gotten myself into" stage on the marriage thing, though. But last week wasn't like this week. There's no reason to think next week will be like this week. Right? Somebody? Right?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In honor of Franklin and her beloved paper artifacts, here's a letter I wrote a month after beginning dorm life a couple thousand miles away from home. God, I was an idiot. And apparently I would've been happy to schtoop Robyn. And Mac wasn't nearly as cool as I thought he was, though [roommate] probably was. It's strange to look back at who you were and see someone almost completely different, and even weirder to see what's still the same. God, I'm still an idiot...


Mom and Dad,
As you say, I am pretty removed from the “mundane” things like T.V., but sometimes a show becomes a dorm event, like when Doogie Howser lost his virginity. Beverly Hills 90210 is a weekly event as well, though I can’t understand why. Like I keep saying, these performing arts people are a strange lot. The other T.V. show I see with any regularity is Cheers, which appears to be on somewhere, on some channel, 24-hours a day. Other than that, I don’t see much. How are the Cowboys doing? And the Broncos?

Things around here are going really well. [Ex-girlfriend] and I have given up trying to be lovers, and we’re putting our efforts into making a solid friendship now. That has removed a lot of angst and frustration from my life. Tonight I’m going to see my first Red Sox games (Fenway is within walking distance), and tomorrow [roommate] and I are going to the Museum of Fine Arts. He’s really been trying hard to help me understand what it’s like to be black in America, and the resulting conversations have gone well beyond interesting. He’s going to show me an exhibit at the museum that deals with racism in mass media. He also wants me to see one of his favorite places: a Buddhist rock garden that is open at the museum from late spring until mid-October. It is a permanent part of the MFA. I’m gaining more and more respect for [him] every day.

New subject: Boston is a scary town at times. Last night, Robyn (who is a very wonderful person whom I admire greatly) had a fight with (apparently her boyfriend) Mac. So at about 11:30 she decided to go for a walk. Alone. About midnight I went out looking for her and saw her walking down Beacon Street. I asked her if she was all right and if she thought it was a good idea to be out alone so late. She said she was fine, that she could take care of herself, and she made it very clear that she wanted to be alone. So I watched her walk away and then I went back to the dorm. A little after that, Mac went out looking for her, and I started feeling bad for letting her go. So I went out again shortly after Mac. I did not find Robyn, but a little while later I did run into Mac. Two guys had tried to mug him, but he had been able to fend them off through his knowledge of martial arts. He did, however, get cut on the arm by the straight razor one of the muggers had. When I saw Mac and heard his story, I got really scared about Robyn. We walked up and down Beacon, Newbury, and Mass. Ave. looking for her, periodically going back to the dorm to see if she’d gone home. By 1:00, I thought for sure that I’d killed her by watching her walk away earlier. Anyway, by 1:30, she had gone back to the dorm and everyone was fine, except Mac and his cut, which really turned out, after he washed off the blood, to be very minor. But I was so scared, especially when I thought how if it had been me or Robyn who had met the muggers, we might very well have ended up with a cut throat. One has got to be careful in this town.

So that’s the news from around here. Classes are going well, my writing is being well-received by my teachers, I did surprisingly well on my oral performance for the freshman seminar on Monday, and I’ve got my first tests in Western Civ. and French tomorrow.


P.S. How’s the golf game coming, Dad?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little Kids Scare Me, But Not Tool

I tried to think of something relevant or political to blog about today, but I can't think under pressure. Is it December yet?

Anyway, I need to get it done now, since the boy's asleep and I won't get home from work until after midnight tonight. I don't usually do weeknight events, but they were desperate for help. The median age of the usher staff is a little on the high side, and they're all terrified of Tool. So I agreed to help out. This will be the first time Mrs. Rodius and I do the downtown baby swap so that I can make check-in time for a weeknight event. Wish us luck! Here is what my night looks like. I'm new, so I doubt I'll get a security position, but on Sunday, when I told a fellow usher I was working Tool, she said, "You're big. They'll put in front of the stage to catch crowd surfers before they bash their heads on the barricade." Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maybe the Playground's Not Such a Good Idea

Scene: Bench near the playground. RODIUS and THUMPER sit on the bench.


ANGELIQUE: Let me hold the baby.

RODIUS: No, I don't think so.

ANGELIQUE: I want to hold the baby.


ANGELIQUE: [Sitting] I'll sit down. Now let me hold him.


ANGELIQUE: He's cute. What's his name?

RODIUS: Thumper. What's your name?

ANGELIQUE: Angelique. How old is he?

RODIUS: Three and a half months.

ANGELIQUE: He has a big head.


ANGELIQUE: And big eyes. [To older child on playground] Hey Donny! [Rolling her eyes] I mean Germy. [To Rodius] I keep forgetting the stupid nickname. [To Germy] Come here!

RODIUS: Jimmy?

ANGELIQUE: Germy. Like Germany. Germy, doesn't he have a big head?

GERMY: [GERMY runs over and sits so close to RODIUS that their hips touch.] Yes, he does. [GERMY puts his face nose to nose with THUMPER and pokes THUMPER in the belly.]

RODIUS: I'd rather you didn't touch him, please.

ANGELIQUE: [Runs her hands across THUMPER's head so his hair stands straight up.] Why not?

RODIUS: Because I don't know you. I don't know if your hands are clean.

GERMY: [Pinches THUMPER's cheek] I just washed them. [THUMPER begins to cry. GERMY runs back to the playground.]

ANGELIQUE: Aw, he must be tired.

RODIUS: He's hungry. It's time for him to eat. [Pulls bottle from diaper bag and begins to feed THUMPER.]

ANGELIQUE: I didn't know dads could feed babies.


ANGELIQUE: I made a joke. I didn't know dads could feed babies.

RODIUS: [Watching GERMY straddle a spring-mounted motorcycle and slam it back and forth into the gravel with his excessive weight.] Is he your big brother or your little brother?

ANGELIQUE: Big. He's twelve.

RODIUS: I thought he was probably older.

ANGELIQUE: I'm fourteen.

RODIUS: Really? You don't look...

ANGELIQUE: No. I'm eleven. I have a little brother who's four.

RODIUS: Where's he?

ANGELIQUE: He's at home. He's not allowed to cross the street. [Grabs THUMPER's hand.] He's still eating?

RODIUS: Don't touch him, please. Yes, it takes him a little while.

ANGELIQUE: He eats a lot. I only ate about half that.


ANGELIQUE: What do you mean?

RODIUS: I mean how old were you when you ate about half that?

ANGELIQUE: Me? Oh, I was just born.

RODIUS: He ate less when he was just born, too. Now he eats a little more. [ANGELIQUE runs off; GERMY returns to the bench.]

GERMY: [Poking THUMPER in the belly.] You gonna swing?

RODIUS: Don't touch him. No, he hasn't really mastered sitting up yet.

GERMY: He's mastered pooping though. And peeing. And sleeping. And crying. [He scratches at scabs on his forearm.]

RODIUS: What'd you do to your arm?

GERMY: Oh, I've been real itchy lately. I scratched it so it looks like that now.

ANGELIQUE: [Returning to the bench.] He's still eating?


ANGELIQUE: [Looking over her shoulder.] Uh oh. [To GERMY.] Time to go. Uncle Bud's coming.

GERMY: No he's not.


GERMY: Where's the bathroom? [Exit GERMY.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Stuff to Look At

My biggest challenge right now in being alone with the Thumperino hour after hour is finding new things for him to look at. He gets bored very easily, which is of course evidence of his staggering intelligence. He's extremely bored with every aspect of our TV room, and has even been known to begin crying the instant we walk into it.

Today, to give him new stuff to look at, we went to the park down the street. I strapped him into the Snugli and we walked all over, from the playground to the volleyball courts to the tennis courts to the baseball field to the creek. We watched squirrels chasing each other 'round and 'round an old pecan tree trunk. We listened to the birdies. We did as the signs advised and Watched for Snakes. We watched the same jogger go by over and over again. He lasted about an hour in the Snugli before fussing, and that may have been due to the red lines around his thighs when I took him out. Maybe I don't have it adjusted right.

Then we sat on a bench by the playground and chatted with a "Grammy" and her two little girls. She kept commenting on how tiny Thumper was, which I thought was pretty amusing since he looks downright gigantic to me. Thumper watched the little girls snacking with great interest while Grammy and I discussed the relative benefits and detriments to living in the neighborhood. Then Thumper and I discussed how much fun it must be to try to run all the way up the slide without sliding down, since so many kids try it, and how barefoot seems to be the best strategy. We got about another half-hour that way before he started fussing again, then we went home and he slept and slept and slept.

When he woke up, we went to Kid to Kid to shop for some sort of new toy to keep him occupied. They were all a little advanced for him, though. I thought very seriously about the Activity Saucer, but it was $40 used, and since cheapness counts, I thought I could do better. So we went to the pet store next door and looked at the fishies and birdies and ferrets. We also looked at the bunnies, but they didn't move, so I'm not sure he saw them.

The two biggest obstacles to us going out and looking at more interesting stuff than the TV room ceiling fan are:

1. The drive. He either fusses or falls asleep, unless the ride is under two minutes, which isn't enough to get us out of the neighborhood.

2. My guilt that I'm wasting time or screwing around if we go out and look at fishies at the pet store. I tend to stick close to home so that if he falls asleep, I can get stuff done. I felt doubly guilty that when he slept after the park, I let him sleep on my chest and napped a little myself. I keep thinking that if I'm not cooking or cleaning or doing laundry, I'm letting Mrs. Rodius down. But even though he's only 3 1/2 months old, just keeping the boy happy and stimulated is a full-time job. I'm going to have to work on telling that voice in the back of my head to shut the hell up when it starts telling me that walking around the park is just screwing around.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fun With Hats

When you worked on a Sunday and then kept the baby entertained when you got home, and you're tired, so tired, and just as you're going to bed you remember you haven't fulfilled your blog quota for the day, the easy way out is to point them at a cute baby picture or maybe two.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's Kinda Like My Senior Day, Too

It was a bittersweet Texas victory over Tech today. It was Senior Day at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, meaning that it was the last time the seniors on the team would get to play on the home field. It was my last game, too. I got free tickets through my previous job, which I kept, even though I quit in mid-October. If I was a truly ethical person, I would've returned the remaining tickets as a job benefit that I was no longer earning. But I am not a truly ethical person.

Several people have pointed out to me, when I mention this was my last chance at a UT game, that I could come back in a few years and buy tickets to take Thumper to a game. Are you kiddin' me? The face value on the tickets we used today was $85. Each. In a few years' time, they'll probably be up to $120, especially if Texas wins another national championship in the interim. And as I may have mentioned, cheapness counts. There may literally be no experience on the planet that lasts a few hours that I would pay $170 to experience, even, if St. Vincent the Young will forgive me, a Texas football game. Praise be to #10, forever and ever, amen.

Thanks to SWSIL and Big Brother for watching the boy for us. He apparently had a fabulous time watching his cousins in action. Their house has much more activity going on than ours does. He apparently slept almost not at all all afternoon long, but conked out nearly as soon as I got him into his pj's. I wonder if this means he'll (let us) sleep in tomorrow...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

No giant obelisks yet, but we're getting close. He snagged a toy today and put it in his mouth, but I kind of think I might have helped him. You know, subconciously. Every day, he's a little different. He is opening and closing his fingers more now; he twiddles them like he's signing fluently, but I don't think it's ASL he's signing.

Speaking of signing, we've started signing to him. What we've read says that four to seven months is the best time to introduce signs, so of course, we've started at three months because we're first-time parents and that's what we do. He probably won't start signing back until 9 or 10 months, but we're building a foundation here. I bought a baby signing book that I thought was a relatively good balance of blah-blah theory and picture dictionary; some were all one, and some were all the other. But it turns out I haven't read any of the theory, and the picture dictionary is a pain in the ass because it's broken down by category. There's a section on bath words, and one on food words, and one on play words, and so on. That sounds great, but it since it's not alphabetized over all, when you want to tell him you're going to go visit Aunt SWSIL, it makes it hard to find the sign for "Aunt" on the fly.

Heh. Aunt on the fly. I made a bug joke. Except that my time in Boston means that I'm just as likely to say "Ahnt" or "Ahntie" as I am "Ant," which pretty much guarantees Thumper will be a completely confused New-Southern-Englander by accent. He won't know his pralines from his prawns. Oh well. It'll make him seem more worldly that way.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Expect to See a Big, Black Obelisk in the Yard Soon

If sleeping a lot is a sign of impending developmental advancement, Thumper might wake up this afternoon playing the piano. If we had a piano.

Yesterday was the first time he noticed himself in the mirror. We like to look in the mirror, but he usually only sees me. Yesterday, he noticed himself and got quite excited. I wonder what goes on in his little mind? Does he recognize that baby as himself? Does he think Daddy's got some other baby, too? Or is he excited just to see something new that moves? It was the same reaction he had to finally noticing the kitty trying to horn in on his lap action yesterday, too. He stuck out his fist, so I leaned him forward to touch her. The touch didn't do much for him, but the sight of her was quite thrilling.

Over the past three days, he has been reaching out more and more. He points his fist at everything. He isn't opening and closing his fingers much yet, though he sometimes opens them to touch my beard. He points his fist as if it's an antenna, a feeler, or a microphone. With his left fist in his mouth, he points his right straight out, sometimes at objects and sometimes at nothing much at all. After he points it, he swings the right up in a slow motion arc and punches himself in the eye. Then he tastes the fist before starting again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Walking with a Jogging Stroller is Kind of Embarrassing

We tried out the jogging stroller this morning, and I needn't have worried about Thumper's balance and abdominal strength; I forget all these things have NASCAR harnesses now. The only one who needed abdominal strength was me as I spent an embarrassingly long stretch of time wrestling with the stroller to get it unfolded, while the boy expressed his impatience.

He seemed to like sitting upright and being able to see, though he was, as usual, asleep in about twenty minutes. He also got a lot more smiles from our fellow walkers/joggers/bikers, since they were able to see his adorable, drooly little face. He's always ridden reclined, facing backward, and with a sunscreen covering him in the other stroller. So now he knows what the hell a car looks like, having heard them roaring by over and over again. He still hasn't a clue what a doggie looks like, though. Or a leaf blower.

I've gained 22 pounds in five months, so I feel pretty good about the morning workout. I actually jogged with the jogging stroller. Not continuously for the whole three miles, but for three sustained sections of the three miles. I finished 11 minutes faster than my previous best walking time, so that's a start. I had to nap with the Thumpster this afternoon, though. I don't think I'll jog tomorrow. I think tonight I'll look through my yoga book and put together a routine that I can handle. I'm going to have to work my way up to that Rodney Yee dude. I'm not sure yoga's going to be quite as effective at knocking the boy unconscious as three miles of vibration. Maybe he'll doze off from boredom.

Monday, November 5, 2007

At the Moment

Somehow it took me a few days to notice that anniemcq tagged me. Where've I been? I don't know. Anyway, I'm glad she did, because Day 5, and I got nothin' to say.

Wearing: Shorts and a two-year-old free T-shirt from my previous employer, with a hole in it, but no baby vomit. Previous shirt o' the day was flooded with baby vomit about 6pm, which was actually a pretty good run, all things considered.
Hair: short, thinning, graying, and unwashed since Saturday. No baby vomit, though
Makeup: Uh, no
Last thing said: "I guess I'll go blog. I've got nothing to say, but I guess I'll go blog."
Last phone call: to the support line of the stupid, invasive, and utterly insulting wellness program for Mrs. Rodius' health insurance, because I couldn't log in to report my exercise and diet points for the month so far. But it's going to save us a couple hundred dollars a month, so rah rah wellness program, stupid, invasive, and insulting as it may be.
In your bag: diaper, blanket, onesie, socks, butt wipes, changing pad, hand wipes, pacifier, Ziploc bag, sample-size baby powder and lotion, baby sunblock
Plans for today tomorrow: walk, shower, dishes, laundry, and if the boy allows, maybe renew my Craigslist ad for audio transcription and try to come up with something interesting to blog about
Last thing bought: Groceries, but really I have to mention the $2 blazer at Thriftland. Have I told you about my $2 blazer? I got a blazer at Thriftland, and it only cost me $2! Seriously, $2!
Listening to: "The Hellbound Heart" by Clive Barker
Last showered: Saturday morning (although miraculously, I did shave both Sunday and today)
Looking forward to: Thanksgiving at Biggest Brother's house, with a large, but not complete, contingent of family
Worst part of the day: The screaming. Thumper woke from a too-brief nap just as I was elbow-deep in a food prep project, and he had no patience for me to finish. Then he was not happy to be back in the car this afternoon to go pick up Mama, because her car's at the body shop after she got rear-ended. He was doubly unhappy to be stuck in traffic on the way home again. Oh, the screaming.
Favorite person of the day: Mrs. Rodius, who took possession of the boy for the evening, including a bath. Ahhhh...
Thinking about: I'm not working enough hours to make enough money and the audio transcription work's dried up and I haven't made a web page to advertise yet and the database consulting work that was supposed to be coming isn't and I don't want to get a part-time job waiting tables or delivering pizza because that's going to be a lot of weeknight hours I'll have to work and I'll always be running and never get to spend any time with Mrs. Rodius but I really need to figure out how to make more money why can't we win the lottery oh yeah because we never play
Current annoyance: stupid, invasive, and annoying wellness program that's going to save us a couple hundred dollars a month in health insurance premiums
Current obsession: getting the boy to grasp an object. He's now pointing his fist at me and other objects, but he is not opening and closing his fingers in a deliberate manner. Soon, though, Parker the Penguin shall feel his crushing clench and shall be dragged into the gaping maw
Feeling: like a crappy Daddy for getting frustrated with the screaming

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Making You Feel More Secure


I watch the carousel rolling by
As I sit here inert in my clip-on tie;
Would I rather be part of their mechanical herds
Or waiting and watching and doing crosswords?
Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll find a job that is hard,
But today I'm content as a security guard.

an original poem by yours truly, April 1993.

In 1992 and '93, I was a security guard working overnight shifts in several different office buildings in downtown Boston. If you have an office, or maybe even just a desk, in a building that's "protected" by overnight security guards, your desk has been thoroughly searched for food, booze, and porn. Just thought you should know.

The overnight shift, depending on the building, was usually two guards. Every two hours, one guard would tour the building. We carried around a heavy, leather-bound clock; there were 18 keys located throughout the building. Each key, when inserted into the clock and turned, would make a mark on an ever-advancing roll of paper. The next morning, the supervisor would remove the paper and make sure that the tours were done at the specified times and all locations were marked. It was a thirty- to forty-five-minute tour, every two hours, and the two guards alternated tours. That left a lot of free time all night in a quiet, empty building.

When I started dating the future Mrs. Rodius, we spent night after night talking for hours on the phone while I was at work. She had to get up in the morning to go to school and to work, while I could go home from work in the morning and sleep all day. I don't know how she kept going, but as I believe I've mentioned, she's the world's most capable woman.

But the rest of the time, there were vast stretches of empty night to fill. That's when I started smoking regularly, because if I went outside for a cigarette break every hour on the hour, it broke up the time into manageable chunks. But there was still too much of it, so the other guards and I did what any normal people would do in that situation: we rifled through other people's stuff. I'm not proud of it now, but it was just a part of the culture then. So believe it. Your desk has been searched, and its relative value as a source of ill-gotten booty has been calculated and reported to all the other guards that might work other shifts. If your office has booze with which it schmoozes clients, it's been hit repeatedly, and it's been watered down repeatedly, too, to disguise the lost volume. It's a fact.

One of my buildings had a barber shop on the second floor. What could be better? It had candy. It had a years-deep backlog of Playboy magazines. It had TV's. It had perfect, reclining chairs for sleeping.

The only security guard that I ever knew to get fired was Phil. Phil got fired because he didn't write an incident report. The battery on a floor scrubber exploded, within feet of Phil's desk and within sight of a security camera, injuring two of the janitorial staff. The supervisor was incredulous. Phil didn't think it qualified as an "incident." Phil was wrong.

That company also had a contract with the New England Patriots. I was offered a position on the detail that protected the cheerleaders at each home game. About the only thing you really could do to get kicked off that detail was hit on one of the cheerleaders, but even so, the turnover rate was surprisingly high. It wasn't a complicated job. Mostly we stood around outside the practice bubble waiting while the cheerleaders were inside doing whatever it is that cheerleaders do before a game. Then we would walk to the stadium while the cheerleaders were driven over in vans. During the game, we stood on the field facing the fans and did two things and two things only: catch anything that was thrown at the cheerleaders, and be able to say with certainty which fan threw it. I never, in half a season of home games, had to actually do either one.

But what I did do was stand around in a yellow windbreaker and watch people get drunk. My favorite conversation with one of those drunk fans, back when Dick MacPherson was coach and being a Patriots fan did not mean quite what it does today, went something like this:

"So what are you gonna do?"

"I'm sorry?"

"You gonna, like, tackle me if I run out on the field? I bet I could out-run you."

"No, sir, I won't tackle you."

"Oh. I didn't think so. You don't look that fast. So what good are you?"

"I call over that state trooper and that state trooper, and they tackle you. Then they escort you out of the stadium. Then they charge you with felony trespass."

"Oh... Well, I didn't mean I was going to do it. I was just curious what you'd do."

"I understand, sir."

And thus, the world was made safe for one more day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

He's Such a Nice Boy

Through each of the matches on the undercard, the three little old ladies sat impassively in the mobility-impaired section. Occasionally they spoke to each other in Spanish monosyllables, but for the most part, they sat in stony silence. Finally, the main event was announced, and the champ entered the ring to hometown cheers.

One of the ladies leaned over to me and asked, "Is this the main event?" I said it was. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I did not bring my glasses. Which one is that?" I told her the fighter's name. "Oh," she said. "That one is my grandson."

"Well good luck to him then!" I told her. "Just watch for the one in blue." The other fighter was announced, and the fight got under way. Still the three ladies were still and silent, though her grandson knocked his opponent down in the first round and the crowd chanted his name in each of the eight rounds. It was a hard-fought fight, and close. At last the ring announcer declared a split decision; the champ lost.

"What does this mean for the title, split decision?" the grandmother asked me. "They share it?"

"No," I answered. "I'm afraid he lost the title."

Suddenly she was impassioned, gesturing wildly. "How can they do this?" she asked. "He works very hard! He's a very good boy!"

"It was a good fight," I said.

"Yes," she agreed. "Exactly! A good fight. They should share it!" And with that, the three little old ladies rose in unison and exited the building.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Princes Charming

I was sitting on a bench at the playground, sipping my coffee and chatting with Thumper about all that chaos and how it looked like a lot of fun and how that kid's crying because he fell down but he'll be OK, and how traditionally you're supposed to sit down on the slide but lots of kids do it lots of different ways. Thumper had his head tilted forward and his eyebrows raised; if he wore glasses, he'd have been looking over the top of them, like, "You gotta be shittin' me." A woman in a suit and high heels was running through the gravel with a little girl, playing tag.

"Yes, we're both princesses," she agreed with the girl. "Yes, let's go find our princes." At that moment, she turned and looked at me. She held eye contact for a half a second or so, then quickly turned away. I guess Thumper and I aren't quite prince material.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

1st Quarter Report

We've seen huge changes in our first three months of operation here at Thumper, Inc. The learning curve has been very high for both labor and management, but all have taken big steps forward in their professional development.

As parents, Mrs. Rodius and I have both grown into our roles well. I've noticed how much calmer I am these days when facing the screams of the outraged. In August, that sound sparked a strong emotional reaction in me, something akin to panic, but by the end of October, while I can still get frustrated and just want to hand him off at the end of the day, for the most part the emotional edge has blunted considerably. We're also getting more adept at understanding his communications and predicting his patterns. And we're very lucky that all in all, he's a remarkably happy baby.

And for his part, he's made huge advances. He's outgrown whatever digestive difficulties he had in the beginning. He can now chew on that fist at will. He can see all the way across the house now, and tracks movement without difficulty. He makes eye contact, and has discovered his voice. His favorite game is to say something and have me repeat it. We can go back and forth for ten or twenty minutes several times a day without getting bored. He hasn't had a meltdown on our three-mile walks in two months and sometimes even stays awake most of the way listening to me say "doggie doggie doggie car doggie car doggie leaf blower." He can hold that big, giant head of his up for longer and longer stretches before getting pissed off, and he even rolled over front to back a couple of days ago, although I think that was just a fluke resulting from being so top-heavy. He really does have a big, giant head, you know.

Goals for the second quarter: a more regular meal, nap, and bedtime schedule. Continued motor skills development, including grasping and manipulating objects and bi-directional rolling. Increased strength and balance so that the Snugli and the jogging stroller are more feasible options.

Oh yeah, and I was going to do product reviews. The battery-powered snot sucker is fabulous. We say pshaw to the bulb! And the cloth diapers are performing well. He's come close, but he hasn't overflowed one yet. The process gets a little tedious, what with the rinsing and washing and folding, but financially and environmentally, I think it's worth the tedium.

So all in all, a successful first quarter. We may have to work on our workplace safety, but I think the response was appropriate and effective, so no litigation will arise from the incident and no remedial training will be necessary as long as we implement new safety procedures to avoid similar mishaps in the future. Like not cutting his nails while he's awake.

Commencing BloPo in 3...2...1...

Thirty consecutive days of posts. Even weekends. Why did I think this was a good idea, again? Oh well. Let the drivel begin!
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