Archive for June, 2010

Some Firsts

June 21, 2010

I got real tired of people, before we had Blanche, making it their duty to tell us every event was ‘our last!’ as a childless couple. Maybe I didn’t get the point of it; yes, we fully realize this is our last Groundhog Day pre-baby. What would you like me to do on this momentous occasion? Make a speech? Get crazy? Are you trying to depress me?: “You’ll never be able to party on New Year’s again.” Excite me?: “Next year it will be so fun to dress Blanche up for Halloween!” For me, it was so blatant that of course, each of these occasions will be different this time next year, as will each ordinary day. You telling me so doesn’t make it any less or more meaningful. So, we had our share of lasts. 

Maybe it’s this: Lasts before Blanche are completely unworthy of recognizing, when just a few months later, we get firsts with her. Stop the presses moments such as: 

Her first Grand Old Day! 

Whatcha got in that Dr. Pepper mom?

St. Paul’s massive block party was a little intense for Blanche, but luckily for mom and dad, she shuts down when things get too exciting. And she clearly got dad’s sleeping genes.

 

   

   

   

   Her first time wearing a jean jacket! 

Red White and Jean Jacket

Dad had to get Blanche dressed in red white and blue for the USA’s opening match in the World Cup, and this jean jacket was the bluest we could do. I’d like to think that it helped secure that draw against England. 

 

 

 

  

Her first boat ride!

Lounging with Grandma Bonnie

This boat ride was not on just any old lake, this was on Lake Blanche, for which she was named!  Certainly the first of hundreds of boat rides in the coming years, though we hope she won’t scare her preschool teachers by talking about booze cruisin. 

 

 

Her first wedding! 

Blanche, you clean up almost as well as dad!

Blanche’s first wedding experience? A four-plus-hour round trip car ride with a two-hour stop in the middle at Jackpot Junction Casino in Morton, Minnesota. Kristie worked most of the day, so we missed the ceremony and dinner of her co-worker Ashley’s wedding, but arrived to do some showing off and a tiny bit of dancing. Blanche slept most of the night, including all four hours in the car. Kristie claims to be missing out on some of the ‘moments’ I’ve detailed here; the specific, unglamorous but memorable ones, but this night was a moment. The moment where we realized we were now parents–responsible ones–but parents whose choices are now controlled by the headbanded one. We left the wedding dance around ten, right when childless Kristie and Nils would have been hitting their strides. We’ll have a few more chances to be young again this summer, with five weddings still on the horizon, and grandmas and grandpas to babysit while we sneak away for some dancing.

Sports gal? Or girly girl?

June 15, 2010

Kristie and I share many loves, and have enough common interests to make our marriage completely satisfying and often intoxicating. One of my passions, most unfortunately, we will never share: sports. In our decade together, we’ve been to one Twins game together…and I honestly cannot recall another sporting event where Kristie was by my side. I’m sure her memories are more crystallized (terrifyingly) than mine, so she’ll be sure to correct me as soon as she reads that line.

I follow it all: the local teams rabidly, my alma mater (The University of Minnesota) regrettably, the national scene obsessively. I’ll wake up before sunrise to watch a World Cup soccer match between nations I know nothing about, stay up well past midnight to watch a college baseball game I have no rooting interest in, and don’t dare get Kristie started on a rant about the Olympics. I have learned some lessons: the ‘big game’ excuse doesn’t fly. There’s a ‘big game’ every night, Kristie has said. And she’s right, but so am I! This is the biggest game of the season (to this point…)! It’s the NBA Finals! The playoffs! An amazing pitching matchup! They’re wearing throwback uniforms! It’s a Thursday night! You get the idea. I can come up with a reason to call any event a ‘big game.’ Truthfully, it doesn’t always matter if the game is ‘big’ or not; I’d still be likely to pay attention. So why bother with the excuse. She sees right through that one, and I’ve quit insulting her intelligence.

I also must thank our DVR, which allows me to watch some events (Vikings games come to mind) after they’ve finished and in much less time. So, if Kristie wants to run some errands or go for a jaunt on a late Sunday morning, the Vikes game doesn’t have to take precedence.

It must be said: while sometimes I feel like I’ve come a long way with my ability to sacrifice some of my sports loves, much of the credit goes to Kristie, who has allowed me to keep most of my obsessions. And though I may see some things as sacrifices, from a perspective that doesn’t understand how compelling competition can be, I still seem insane. I swear I didn’t intend this to turn into a 400-word soliloquy, so let’s see if we can get to the point.

I don’t recall discussing it, but I believe it was tacit that if we’d had a boy, I would be free to submerge him in my sporting world, introduce him to everything athletics, and essentially give him no choice but to be a sports junkie like dad. Of course, if he were to try sports and spit them out, we’d find something he was passionate and explore that instead, but–well what am I even talking about? We didn’t have a boy. (Deep sigh)

With a girl, it’s trickier, isn’t it? Just as I would be excited about molding a son and showing him all the masculine things daddy loves, Kristie wants to spread her girliness onto Blanche. I’m all for that, but no fair!

Before we get too far into this molding, shaping, spreading thing, I’d better say that Kristie and I have no intention of sending Blanche down any path she doesn’t embrace. We will encourage her to explore anything she loves, aside from insane downhill skiing, ultimate fighting, fire breathing or glue sniffing. She may be nudged, as all kids are. 

Anyway…Blanche attended her first sporting event last week: a very competitive, very compelling slow pitch softball game. I seized the opportunity. “That’s called a can of corn,” I told her. “He’s not yelling at the umpire, he’s yelling with him.” It was fantastic! And Blanche was captivated, almost as much as she is by a lighting fixture or ceiling fan.

So do I want Blanche to be a sports fanatic? Not necessarily, but I want her to be able to share some of my love for it with me. I want her to enjoy stuffing a fully-condimented hot dog into her face, or lament a referee’s (clearly incorrect) call until the only thing that can make you feel better is Chipotle. I want her to be able to name all the positions on a baseball field and blare at the television when Adrian Peterson is being careless with the football.

OK. Maybe I do want her to be a fanatic. It is fun to think about. I’ll obviously be thrilled with whatever loves she embraces, and I hope that she, in the end, reminds me of her mother. That sounds pretty good to me.

Check out some new pictures of Blanche!

Daddy’s Big Day: A minute-by-minute examination

June 2, 2010

Today is finally the day: the day Kristie has, for the last three months, forced herself to believe would never come. Today she goes back to work, and leaves Blanche for the first time. I can think of a couple instances when they’ve been apart for an hour or so–never more–so the buildup to this moment has been incredibly emotional.

Thus, to attempt to keep Blanche and Kristie connected, I’ll be documenting my day with her, and updating this post throughout the day. Remember, not only is this a big day for Kristie, but it’s a big day for me as well! My first day alone with Blanche all day; I’ve mentioned my fears before, but mostly I’m excited. With my luck, though, she’ll pick today as her fussiest, poopiest and least smiliest. Nay, we musn’t pollute the mind with unhappiness. With that, let us begin the day.

7:00 a.m. I wake up as scheduled, but wait! I’m not alone! No more dressing in the dark, tip-toeing around the bed or wondering in the shower if I turned the alarm off or just hit snooze…Today we woke up as a family, and I got to play with Blanche in bed as opposed to my usual body-lunge over the edge of her bassinet.

7:20 a.m. After several minutes of play time, I change Blanche as Kristie gets ready. This will rarely be the routine, as I’m always out the door before Kristie in the mornings, but it’s good practice. It’s certainly not my first morning in charge, though. Virtually every weekend I’ve taken B in the mornings to let Kristie sleep in. I’m well-practiced. Kristie puts me in charge of choosing her outfit, though she can’t resist pointing me in a number of directions. It usually takes her a few times to get it just right, she says. I don’t know the difference, but my choice is met with positivity.

8:00 a.m. Blanche is sleeping again in her swing, her go-to comfort spot. I again play domestic dad, making breakfast and coffee while Kristie pumps. This whole bottle feeding idea is the part of the day I’m most unsure about. Kristie has a rhythm, and I’m afraid I’ll lose track of when she’s eaten, or screw up getting the once-frozen breastmilk slush into a drinkable form. Or forget a bottle when we go out (I have a convenient dentist appointment this afternoon). Or give her too much! Or not enough! Or forget to burp her and be confused when she screams because I didn’t burp her!

We know I won’t do any of these things. After all, in this relationship, one of us is regimented. Organized. On schedule. According to plan. And it’s not Kristie.

8:35 a.m. Kristie says goodbye to Blanche for the first time. It is a powerful moment, probably the second-most emotional minute since Blanche’s birth. The most emotional being a dramatic Twins win, of course. Kristie says she can’t remember struggling more with any other moment in her life. She feels “crazy bad sad,” she tells me as I walk her out to the car. I load the car; it’s an event now, with a diaper bag and breast pump accessories accompanying the usual purse, lunch and coffee. And then, she’s gone!

9:00 a.m. Blanche is still sleeping. This is easy! I’m surfing the internet, watching tennis, fighting allergies, texting–I can see how this might become a comfortable lifestyle.

9:23 a.m. Blanche stirs! Is it breakfast time? No. She’s back asleep by the time I get to her side. A Janell Monae song comes on the Current. I crank it up. Still she dozes.

9:35 a.m. The Replacements’ Kiss Me on the Bus comes on. I crank a little higher. Still nothing. This girl definitely got her dad’s sleeping skills. Maybe some clanging dishes will wake her?

9:54 a.m. Dishes do nothing. I check the cupboards for lunch options; I haven’t made lunch for myself on a weekday in quite some time, and our pantry is looking quite bare. I pull out a Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff. Expired December 8, 2005. I didn’t even know those things could expire! Canned soup is the favorite at this point.

10:11 a.m. Still sleeping.

10:20 a.m. I’m awake! And so well-rested and happy! After a few content minutes, I’m ready to eat. Here goes nothing. Oh no…she won’t take the bottle…breathe…maybe it’s too cold. I fill a cup with water and microwave it for a minute. Good job remembering how to correctly heat a bottle, dad. A couple minutes in the warm water and we’re ready to try again. Success! 3.5 ounces down! And we’re still happy!

10:40 a.m. Time to do one of our favorite things: sit in my Bumbo chair! Guess what I learned? If I rock my body a bit, I can make the rocking chair ottoman rock back and forth! This is so fun! Bumbo time lasts about 20 minutes, but then daddy has a bunch of stuff he needs to write on his blog. We transfer the bumbo into the sun room, where dad decides to switch it up and give Blanche a little time on her soft bear blanket…bad idea. Why move her when she’s content? Lesson learned.

11:10 a.m. Now I’ve really done it. Blanche is upset because I moved her. How to fix it. Pacifier. No good. Walk and bounce. A little better. Hold her and type with one hand. Difficult and unsuccessful anyway. The solution? Stash her in the Baby Bjorn, toss her a pacifier (I heard it called a wiggler recently and think I’ll be using that term. Way better than paci, nuk or whatever), bounce on the yoga ball and type away. Aaaaahhhhhh. That’s better.

11:45 a.m. Nothing like a noon shower. Guess it’s probably time to get out of my pajamas too.

11:55 a.m. Out of the shower, and despite my most cautious preparations, Blanche is crying in her swing. Lost her wiggler. Like a champion, I race downstairs, slide that baby back in, and she’s calm in seconds. What did parents do before pacifiers? I can only hold my finger there for so long.

12:15 p.m. Canned soup it is. And potato chips and dip. Hey, I’m not the one responsible for the baby’s nutrition. I can eat what I want. As a matter of fact, I’m going to have a can of regular Coke, too. A little too early for beer I guess…

12:40 p.m. As we get ready to leave for the dentist, my fears seem to be coming true. Blanche is in line to eat at 1:30, exactly when my appointment is. I don’t really know the protocol here; can I feed her while in the chair? Do they mind if she screams for a half hour? Can we just cancel this altogether and say i had no cavities? How often can I do this several-questions-in-a-row thing? Isn’t it getting out of hand at this point?

12:48 p.m. She’s asleep again after being awake but calm in her swing for the last hour. Maybe I can keep her sleeping in her car seat until my appointment is done…but first I have to put away the potato chips. Crap. I crumpled the bag and startled her awake. Nevermind.

12:53 p.m. Am I tweeting?

12:55 p.m. As we were about to leave for the dentist, I thought it might be a good idea to check her diaper. Good thing I did, because inside was a present potent enough to pop one of the snaps on her onesie. We were one spray away from a blowout, and I’d rather not have on in the dentist’s office.

1:05 p.m. We’re on our way, and Blanche apparently isn’t a huge fan of Arcade Fire. Probably didn’t help that the song Wake Up was playing. But, superdad that I am, I blindly reached back, found her wiggler and placed it safely back in her wailing lips. Crisis averted.

1:30 p.m. Just as she had with mom, Blanche sleeps the entire time I’m being probed. It’s a bit unsettling to be stuck in a chair, looking up at the ceiling, sharp things in your mouth, and unable to see what your baby is doing. Thankfully Anita was watching her and giving me timely updates. Everyone at the office was dumbfounded by her gentle giraffe, which played a soft and soothing waterfall as she slept. I wasn’t familiar with the old hotel beds the dentist mentioned that played similar relaxing sounds.

2:20 p.m. A visit to Hot Mama, where we were adored by customers, snuggled by mom and chugged a much-needed bottle. A quick visit to work and we were back on our way home.

3:10 p.m. Since it’s daddy’s day, I get to play whatever music I want and as loudly as I want to, so on the ride home, we blasted David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. I promised Blanche I wasn’t talking about her when I sang “Oh you pretty thing, don’t you know you’re driving your mother and father insane.” But I do agree with Bowie when, on a later track, he sings “If your homework brings you down, then we’ll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown.”

3:55 p.m. Get me out of this car seat! I’m crabby! Is this because we didn’t watch Days of Our Lives?

5:20 p.m. After an hour-long struggle, we finally fall asleep. And by we, I mean Blanche in her swing and me on the couch. This baby-watching stuff is taxing! I barely remember answering the phone at 6:30, when Kristie called to say she was leaving work. I’m sure I would have woken up had Blanche started fussing.

6:55 p.m. Finally, after nine and a half long hours, baby and mommy are reunited. No time for saying hello to dad! Must see my baby! Thankfully, I kept her intact and relatively happy. But I am ready for a beer.