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    A Gearhart Christmas v. 2008

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    Christmas two thousand and eight was a fantastic holiday with friends, family, great food, love, and laughter. Like many families and couples, Christmas spans a few sunrises and sunsets for us, as it's the only feasible way to visit my family, Sarah's family, our friends, and still have a small, family Christmas at home. Christmas started on the actual Christmas day, because we weren't ready for it any earlier.

    This multi-day celebration was bisected with the scariest moment of my entire life. Today's post is rather lengthy, as I feel it's necessary to tell the whole story, instead of just the part that made my heart stop. So bear with me, and I'll do my best to write the story well enough to keep your attention.

    Chapter I - Pre-Christmas

    I simultaneously hate and envy the person that says they completed all their shopping and wrapping on December 15th, or even earlier. We finished our shopping on December 23rd, and the wrapping on December 24th. Once that was complete, we put out milk and cookies for the late night burglar wearing the red suit. Upon putting Tyler to bed, we sent word that it was safe for Santa to come (wink, wink) and fill our stockings and leave gifts under the tree. To pass the time waiting for the strike of the midnight hour, Sarah and I fell asleep on the couch. Where oh where did the days of partying until the wee hours of the morning go?

    I barely slept that night. Even as an adult, the anticipation of Christmas and gifts is more effective than three pots of coffee at keeping the angels of slumber from overtaking me. When Tyler woke up for nursies at God-knows-what-time, I was ready, Sarah wasn't. Instead, Sarah fed him, put him to bed and returned to ours. When Tyler woke up at 6:37am, I was ready. Unfortunately for me, Sarah wasn't. She brought Tyler to our bed and lay down with him. I sometimes think she enjoys torturing me. Finally, at 8:30a, Sarah - who was facing away from me - says, "well good morning Ty Ty." I jerked myself up and peered over at them, unable to contain my excitement.

    Chapter II - Christmas at Home

    In a word, Christmas was awesome. In a couple words, Christmas was super awesome.

    Last Christmas was special because that's when we told our families that Sarah was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. This Christmas trumped that, a hundred times over, because it was Tyler's first. He loved tearing (and trying to eat) the wrapping paper. I would actually love to give him a wrapped box everyday to open. He made out like a bandit too. His stocking stuffers included food, pacifiers, and a little baby toothbrush. The tree held even greater treasure, in the form of books and toys.

    Delilah didn't do too bad either. Santa knows that we're trying to figure out what she's allergic to, so he didn't bring her any food products.

    Sarah and I faired pretty well also. Among other things, she got the slow cooker that she so desperately wanted, and I got the new widescreen LCD monitor that I so desperately wanted.

    We played with Tyler and his new toys for awhile, until he was ready for his nap. While he slept, we packed up the car with gifts and pies. After getting cleaned and dressed, Tyler was still asleep, so we played Guitar Hero for about 45 minutes. Tyler finally woke up around 1p. Sarah fed him, then we all loaded into the car.
    Chapter III - Sarah's Family

    Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at Sarah's parents' house. Unsurprisingly, Tyler received lots of toys, books, clothes, and kisses. The food was great. Sarah brought a homemade apple pie, a homemeade blueberry/peach pie, and a homemade pumpkin pie. They were delicious!

    At one point, I hear Allison (Aunt Ace) say, "Tyler, are you ok?" I looked down to see Tyler sitting on the floor, holding a pair of his newly acquired pants. He was looking straight ahead, with his mouth open, trying to gag. Before I even got my feet on the ground, Ace was already next to him with her finger in his mouth. After what felt like 2 hours, but was actually less than five seconds, she pulls something out of his mouth. Apparently, Tyler had been chewing on the cardboard tag that retailers attach to clothing. After being drenched in Tyler's spittle, it tore off and got stuck on the roof of Tyler's mouth, toward the back. Tyler was then put under constant surveillance.

    We got home that night, put Tyler to bed, then played with our gifts. Sarah read a book using her new booklight, and I tranferred pictures to the computer using my new card reader.

    Chapter IV - The Long Drive

    We left our house at 11am on the 26th to make the 2 hour drive to my parents' house. We got there 4 hours later. Just as I turned onto the entrance ramp to the expressway, we saw that traffic wasn't moving in either direction. People were standing outside their cars, and police were everywhere. Have I mentioned, yet, that we had an ice storm the night before? I did a U-turn on the ramp (yes, I drove the wrong way on a one-way) and we decided to take a state road North, until it intersected with the expressway again.

    Fifteen minutes later, we were cruising at a respectable 40 miles an hour. We seemed to have gotten past all the ice, and were on wet roads. The temperature was expected to hit 40ºF, so that should take care of all the ice we just got past.

    Suddenly, although I was driving straight, the car was pointing toward oncoming traffic, and was drifting into that lane. I looked ahead to see three cars heading our way. I pressed the brakes and slowly turned the wheel to the right. Nothing changed. We were heading directly towards the oncoming cars. I considered for a moment that this was going to be deadly for some (if not all) of us. The car was dangerously close to going into a spin. I could feel the rear end trying to slide around. Very far away, I heard Sarah's voice. It wasn't a scream, but more of a statement.

    "Oh God."

    Immediately, a picture of Sarah, and a picture of Tyler flashed in my head. It seemed that a part of my brain flipped a switch and put me on some type of auto-pilot. I knew what I was doing while I was doing it, and I knew why I was doing it. But I didn't know how I was doing it, because I really didn't feel like I was controlling my own body.

    As calmy as if I was taking a leisurely walk through a park, I said "It's cool, it's cool. I've got this. We'll be ok."

    I slowly turned the wheel to the right again. I eased onto the gas pedal, praying that the spinning front wheels would pull us back into our lane. Miracle, hand of God, or sheer dumb luck, I don't know, but it worked. I saw a telephone pole with about 20 feet of ice and snow between it and us. I knew that the snow would slow us down, and I decided that I would gladly take damage to the car just as long as my family was safe.

    I tried steering to the left, to straighten us out, but there was no traction whatsoever. We left the road. The front passenger corner of the car hit the snow, with an inch of solid ice on top of it. It spun the front end around to face the right direction. We slid along the snow/ice wall and came to a stop. We were sitting as if we pulled off the road to look at a map. The scariest moment of my entire life ended without so much as a scratch on us or the car.

    I got out and started stomping the ice so I could have some traction to push the car. I could only get us about 10 feet or so. Luckily, another motorist came to help push. When Sarah got back on the road, she couldn't stop because we were still on solid ice. That, and another car was coming from behind, so stopping would have been too dangerous. I thanked the guy that helped push and started running towards the car. I yelled for Sarah to keep going just as I grabbed the rear spoiler. At that point, I pulled myself along the car. I quit running and my feet were literally gliding on the ice. I actually did think to myself, "Ok, this is pretty cool." as I dropped into the passenger seat. Tyler, my dear son, slept through the entire ordeal, and Delilah was just as happy as before. About a mile later, we had to stop for about 20 minutes because a salt truck was stuck in the road. The driver was shoveling ice under his wheels to get some traction.

    Shortly thereafter, the ice really did melt and we were able to continue our trip.

    Chapter V - My Family

    My parents freaked when I told them the story of our death-defying trip up to see them. I got to see my older brother, 2 of his sons, my younger brother, his girlfriend, my parents, and my grandparents. My sister is living in Kansas, and my other brother isn't around very much, so they weren't there for Christmas.

    Tyler, once again, received lots of lovings. He was a bit of a Grumpy-Gus though, because his schedule was all out of whack from the previous couple days. But for the most part, he was well mannered and great to be around. 99% of the time that he sleeps, he sleeps in his crib. We obviously couldn't pack his crib, so we brought the Pack-N-Play for him to sleep in. He did not sleep very well at all. Tyler was up every 45 minutes or so. It was miserable for Sarah, poor girl. She was dog tired the next day.

    My parents have one of those "Dancing Santa" toys. When you turn it on, he starts singing Jingle Bell Rock and moves his hips, side to side. Tyler was hypnotized by it. He just sat on the floor and stared at it, completely absorbed. It was hilarious.

    The other highlight is that Tyler got up on his hands and knees and skooched forward on them. He's been up on his hands and knees before, but this day is the day that he got up and stayed up on them. Once again, Sarah and I were excited and scared. I keep saying I need to baby-proof the house, but haven't done so yet. I really need to now.


    This has to have been one of my best Christmases ever (if not the best). Tyler puts such a big smile on my face everyday, and warms my heart. We all got home safe, with no near-misses this time. Our house is still a disaster zone, but that's par for the course.

    If you've actually read this far, I really appreciate it. I try to keep my posts to a reasonable length, but sometimes I just can't help but to share more than normal.

    Wordless Wednesday v. Double Shot

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    Breaking Ground

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    Tyler doesn't cry very much.

    When a person is reading something, in print or on screen, it's difficult to always know what emotion is the author is trying to convey. If you knew Tyler to be a major screamer and crier, and you read that first line, you'd say to yourself, "wow... that Joe is so witty. He's being sarcastic, and I find that to be quite funny." So, let me be clear. Tyler doesn't cry very much. Scouts' honor. Honest Abe. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

    He's only 5 months old, so his favored form of communication is crying. Luckily for us, he rarely - if ever - cries for no reason. He used to go bonkers when he was hungry, screaming like it was the end of all mankind, and his only chance for survival was some breastmilk within the next nanosecond or two. I wouldn't pass him off to Sarah until he calmed down though. I think it drove Sarah crazy, because it made her sad to hear Tyler cry. As soon as Tyler calmed down, I'd give him right to Sarah for some nursies. I hesitate to call it "tough love", mostly because I absolutely adore the little monster, but I want him to understand that screams will not get rewarded. I'm not sure if Tyler's non-crying demeanor is just a trait of his, or if it's a result of how Sarah and I responded to his screaming. He does get fussy when he's hungry, or tired, or needs changing, or wants attention, or if Delilah has licked his face a little too much. And I have no problem with this. He's been starting his hand/arm gestures recently too. He reaches out for us, he pulls my head close to his when I'm holding him, he hugs Sarah's head when she's snuggling him, he pets Delilah (and sometimes grabs and squeezes her fur and face), and he pushes her away when she's being a pest. It's a fantastic transition, and a sad one. But hand and arm gestures aren't my concern today; screaming is.

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    Tyler's first tooth has just pushed through his gums. His front, bottom, slightly-to-the-left tooth is making its grand entrance to the world. If you look closely at the picture (click to view it larger), you'll see it in there. To say that I'm elated would be an overstatement, and to say that I'm saddened would be a huge understatement. I think it's great that my little baby is growing, but I also think it's the saddest thing in the world that my little baby is growing. It's only been 5 months, and it's only felt like 3 or 4 days. Sarah noticed it a few days ago. His gums were a little swollen, and he's been grumpy with breastfeeding. Last Tuesday, he grabbed my finger and shoved it in his mouth. When he bit down, I felt it!! His first tooth broke through. *sigh*

    As a result, Tyler is screaming. I don't remember what it felt like when I was teething 29.8 years ago, but I'm sure it didn't feel good. He's not screaming because he's unhappy. He's screaming because he's - presumably - in legitimate pain. And THAT is breaking my heart. Thank the heavens above for baby Oragel, or whatever off brand it was that we bought. "Little Teethers" or something like that. I've heard of people rubbing whiskey on a baby's gums to soothe the pain, and I'd be lying if I told you that it never crossed my mind. I've got a couple different flavors to choose from, and contemplated doing a double blind taste test with Tyler, to see if he preferred a Tennessee blend over a Canadian mix. Sarah would send me to the morgue in a body bag if I got Tyler liquored up, so we've got the Benzocain to numb his aching gums instead.

    I'm sad that Tyler's teething, I'm horrified that this is only the first of 20 baby teeth. But the worst is hearing his screams. It makes my heart hurt. It's time to make sure we've got teething rings in the fridge, wet wash cloths in the freezer, and be prepared to do a lot of gum massaging.

    And just as things start to get better, Tyler starts screaming again. I looked into his mouth today, and see that his first tooth's neighbor is breaking ground as well. What was once nothing but a desolate, gummy pasture is quickly turning into a booming subdivision, and all the lots are being purchased at a record rate. One tooth has moved in, and the second has secured its lot. Before I have time to blink, all 20 lots will be purchased and in the building phase. Due to a mortgage crisis in a few more years, those teeth will be evicted, making room for a more permanent residency.

    The Pen is Mightier... plus more

    We sent Tim (my dear step-dad) a birthday card just over a week ago. Tyler wanted to help decorate the envelope....

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    I've taken some pictures that don't really have enough of a story to warrant a post by themselves, so I hope you don't mind a few quick blurbs.

    Tyler ate bananas (baby food) for the first time... I had been playing with camera settings (aperature, ISO, etc) so the pictures aren't that great :(

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    We went upstairs to get Tyler out of his crib after his afternoon nap. Here's how we found him:

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    Tyler likes bananas now (for the most part)...

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    Tyler's got massive thighs...

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    Thanks for viewing!!!!

    Wordless Wednesday v. Sweet Potatoes

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    In case you didn't already see it over here.

    Everyday Conversation

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    This past Friday, I was very tired, and was dealing with some severe neck pain. I don't know how or why my neck started hurting, but it was doing so without regard for origin or reason. I lay down on the couch to take a nap, while Sarah and Tyler played on the floor. This was a mistake, because the way in which I was positioned caused even more neck pain when I woke up about an hour or so later.

    When I did wake up, the following discussion took place:

    Sarah: "How was your nap?"
    Me: "mmmm, ok I guess."
    Sarah: "love yous."
    Me: "I love you, too."
    Sarah: "Tyler pooped."
    Me: "Yay."
    Tyler: *burp*

    Apparently, when a baby's bowel system takes a two day break from its normally scheduled programming, it becomes a hot topic for parents. I did not know this, and believe I must add it to the "The Incompetent Dad's Handbook for Parenting Success" book that I'll probably never write.

    Update: After reading over this post again, I feel the need to point out that Tyler's *burp* was not added for comedic effect. The conversation posted is 100% accurate.

    Christmas in November

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    My parents came down to visit the weekend before Thanksgiving. Since they already made plans for Turkey day, and we were hosting a dinner as well, we decided on the weekend before to meet up. They hadn't yet met Tyler, so we were all very excited. Sarah made a pseudo-Thanksgiving meal, which included turkey-meatloaf, smashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It was delicious. To be honest, I was nervous about turkey-meatloaf, but it was very, very good.

    My parents bought Tyler some clothes, toys (which he appears to love), and a bouncer when they came down. The only wrapping paper they had was Christmas themed. But Tyler is five months old, so he wouldn't notice. Plus, he wouldn't care if he did. We didn't care, because it's just paper that's going to get destroyed anyway, right?

    Tyler was more than eager to get his hands on the presents. We had to help him by tearing the corner of the paper. But as soon as he saw the paper sticking out, he couldn't wait to get his hands on it. Tyler thoroughly enjoyed the ripping sound of the paper. He also seemed to enjoy the way the paper tasted, because he kept cramming it in his mouth.

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    The pièce de résistance of the weekend was on that Sunday. It's actually probably the opposite of "pièce de résistance", but here's the story anyway. We went to breakfast at Ryan's, which is a buffet style restaurant. It was my first time there, and the food was very good. We let my parents feed Tyler a little bit of ice cream, which we immediately followed with Mylacon drops. And that was when I watched as a woman sneezed into her hand. Common sense, and common-freaking-courtesy would tell you to use your other hand, you know... the CLEAN one, to grab your food. Or maybe go clean your *bleep*ing hands! Not this woman. She switched hands for a second, which was a great relief to me, but promptly switched back to her germ-infested hand to grab food. I think I came down with the flu, or leprosy, or some other terminal illness just from watching her do that.

    So, that was Tyler's Christmas in November. New clothes, new toys, new grandparents, and ice cream. I'm looking forward to Tyler having his first Christmas, but he doesn't really know what's going on. Because of this, I told Sarah that we should just get him some empty boxes. He won't know that we're cheaping out on him, and all little boys love empty boxes. It's a win/win situation. And here's the photographic proof to back my claims.

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    Sarah whole-heartedly disagrees with me. So we went Christmas shopping for Tyler this week, taking him with us. Not that we have much choice in the matter, though. But it felt weird that we were buying gifts for someone who was with us. To top it off, we were letting him play with the toys at the store, so that we could be sure that he would like them. I want it noted, though, that I think plain ole cardboard boxes will be just as much fun as a spinning toy that lights up and makes funny noises.

    Wordless Wednesday v. Florida/Alabama

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    Broken Promises

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    This past Friday, I changed Tyler's diaper on the living room floor. We've got a basket that we keep the essentials in. Diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, lotion, and butt cream prepare us for all but the most gruesome of crime scenes. Upon completion of the diaper change, I lifted Tyler's legs, smacked his bottom, and informed him that I had indeed, "panked the booty", much to his delight. I then dumped the dirty dipe and washed my hands. When I walked back into the living room, Tyler had rolled over -which he is a regular pro at now - and was chewing on one of his socks. I don't know why Tyler loves to rip his socks off. He loves to grab them with his hands and just start yanking away at them. And I'm even more confused on how he is able to kick them off without using his hands at all.

    A few moments later, I was opening up some files on my laptop to print off before I hit the road for work. While I was doing this, Tyler was reaching for the diaper basket. I know this because when I did eventually look down at him, he was dumping the basket over. In the seconds that it took for me to set my laptop down and get up, Tyler was able to grab a diaper and start chewing on it. *sigh* I put everything back into the emergency readiness basket and sat it back on the floor. But this time, I set it about two feet away from Tyler. I looked at him and said, "There, if you can get to it now, you can have it."

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    I learned something valuable from that statement. Do not absently make offers to a child, ever.

    I didn't expect Tyler to say - nonverbally, of course - "ok daddy, watch this." No, I didn't hear him say it, but I should have seen it in his eyes. I was sitting again, trying to finish up on the laptop so I could get on the road, when Sarah says, "Joe, look at your son."

    Again, I look down to see what the little troublemaker is up to. Tyler was much closer to the basket, and he was stretching as much as he could, trying to reach it. His little fingertips were just barely touching the basket. Then, I watch as he digs his foot into the carpet and pushes himself closer. Close enough that he was able to grab the basket and knock it over again. Sarah informs me that if I had put the basket back where it belonged, Tyler never would have gotten to it. Thanks, Sarah. Any why Tyler would want the basket when he's got all kinds of awesome toys nearby is beyond the scope of my knowledge.

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    Tyler digs his foot into the ground and pushes himself forward
    But the bigger question is, WHEN DID HE LEARN THIS!?!? The only thing I've ever seen him do that even resembled mobility was spin himself in a circle while lying on his belly. He would only ever spin in one direction, so I'd constantly quote Maury Ballstein, from Zoolander, "You got a lot of gifts, but hanging a louie just isn't one of them."

    Among the many thoughts that swirled around my head that morning, three of them stuck out.

    1) Why the heck hasn't Sarah told me about this development? When I asked her about this, she dismissively replied, "oh, I thought you knew." I had to remind myself a few times that spousal abuse is against the law.

    2) Awesome! My baby can move!

    3) My baby can move now? Oh s**t.

    "Bittersweet" seems to be a huge understatement of the mixture of joy and sheer terror that I felt. Before Friday, whenever I placed Tyler on the floor and walked into another room, a promise was made. When I come back, Tyler will be right there. Just like your car keys or cell phone, Tyler will be in the last place you left him. Nobody ever told me that these promises came with an expiration date.

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    Tyler's Immobility Guaranteed Through December 5, 2008. Individual Results May Vary
    (I swear this isn't photoshopped)

    Friday was December 5th. Happy Birthday, Tim. Your grandson can army-crawl.

    Typing Monkeys

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    If I ever had any doubt on whether Tyler is of my own flesh and blood, that doubt disappeared when I saw him make a foot-fist.

    There are a few things that, I think, differentiate me from most (normal) people. One, I can not comfortably sit in a chair, unless one leg is under my "bottom" or unless I'm sitting "Indian style" on it. Sitting normal, with both feet on the ground, is very uncomfortable for me.

    Another thing I do is curl my toes, all the time. It looks like I'm making a fist with my foot. I'm doing so right now, as a matter of fact. I've done this for as long as I can remember, and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that my mom or dad does this as well. I also cross my big toe over my second toe, on both feet, quite often; much like crossing your fingers when you make a promise that you have no intention of keeping.

    And, for the hat trick in foot contortionism, I can pick many things up with my feet. TV remotes, keys, baby toys, dog toys, and even tennis balls must bow to the will of my podiatric grip. Someone in the house finds this to be quite disturbing slash disgusting, while I see it as the next step in evolution. We're only a few decades away from having children that are born with opposable big-toes, just like our primate brethren. It's a scientific fact, but I don't have any scientific proof to back that claim.

    Now, don't go thinking that my monkey-feet are freakish and nasty looking. They look just like the feet on your average man. The possibility even exists that everyone can do these tricks, and I'm not unique at all. I haven't asked around, so we'll leave it at me thinking I'm unique.

    The joy I felt when I saw Tyler make his first foot fist was not echoed with Sarah. Instead, she directed a stare at me that I characterize as accusatory and contemptuous. If that wasn't enough, she telepathically sent a thought that roared in my head, "You did this to him. You did this to my baby boy!!"

    A day or two later, I was tickling Tyler's feet with his toy keys. He's not yet laughing when I tickle him, but he smiles. And, while hearing Tyler laugh is currently one of my most favorite things, I'm quite happy to see and elicit a smile from this big little man. All of a sudden, as I was running the plastic key ring across the bottom of his foot, he grabbed the keys. WITH HIS FOOT!

    Monkey feet

    My little monkey baby truly is his father's son. And speaking of monkeys...

    The "Infinite Monkey Theorem" has been phrased many ways, so forgive me if this isn't how you remember it. I almost had a brain orgasm when I read about it on Wikipedia while preparing for this post. There's so much to think about with statistics and probabilities that it's hard for the mind to comprehend.
    If an infinite number of monkeys randomly pressed keys on an infinite number of typewriters, for an infinite amount of time, eventually, one of them will type the entire works of Shakespeare.
    This is a statement which I've always believed to be true. As a man that is marveled by science and math, I understood that it is a statistical certainty that, eventually, one of the monkeys would rip a sheet out of the typewriter, start flinging his own poo at the other monkeys, and proudly proclaim that he has finally done it. He has finished writing Hamlet. But, what happened a couple days ago has me questioning my own beliefs.

    I had a computer hard drive crash on Thanksgiving. After I got everything back up and running again, I had to manually rebuild some catalog files. Tyler was sitting on my lap while I madly typed up a new index and hash codes and other things that I'm sure you don't care about. Tyler decided that he would like to have a go at the keyboard. While I was happy that Tyler offered to help me, I had no intention of turning him loose on my code. Instead, I opened up Notepad and rolled Tyler within reach of the keyboard.

    Giving Tyler the green light, I said, "Okay, infinite monkey, let's see what you've got."

    He did not impress me with his typing abilities. He was all over the place. He wouldn't keep his fingers on the home keys, he kept hitting the windows button, and somehow managed to open up Powerpoint. Here's his final screen output:
    zvgbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb                                                                      5768\\\\\\\\\\\\\

    fswwwwbr0jq8rnbj4iidqfz88foydhgp3jeb86aoq aqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq
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    Click the image to view the proof, in all it's glory

    If you were to spend any time actually looking at the above, you may have noticed that there's a fairly long run of letters that aren't repeated, like "ssssssssssss" from Tyler just holding one key down for three seconds. Under normal circumstances, I'd find that to be rather impressive. I mean, it's certainly not of the literary caliber of MacBeth, but it's still pretty neat.

    Don't go getting Tyler's name engraved on on the Nobel Prize in Literature just yet. That little string of text just happens to be one of my hash codes. I saved it to the clipboard while I was rebuilding the index, and Tyler happened to press CTRL-V to paste it into his literary masterpiece. What I'm getting at is this: Tyler is a fraud. I do not condone plagiarism, especially when it is my own son who has plagiarized my hard work.

    Based on the rest of his output, I have now determined that the "Infinite Monkey Theorem" is a falsity. How could I possibly believe it after seeing the character-stringing mess that Tyler created? Once again, I have little to no scientific proof to back this up. After all, Tyler is not a monkey, but he's pretty close. He can grab things with his feet. And, left to his own devices, I have no doubts that he would fling his own poo all over the place.

    I say he has monkey feet, like his father. But then I see this, and think that maybe "elephant feet" describes it better

    I Almost Killed Him

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    Tyler doesn't feel well
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    Have you ever done something with the best of intentions, only to realize later that it was probably the stupidest thing you've ever done in your entire existence? I have. Just last night, as a matter of fact.

    A while back, I banished Sarah's dad, my father-in-law, from my house because he made Tyler laugh before I could. I'm sure it's a petty reason, and a pretty harsh punishment, but what has been done cannot be undone. Plus, the banishment only lasted until the next time he visited, so no big deal. It looks as if Sarah's sister, Jillian, and her two daughters (L- and P- in this post) are going to be added to the list of people banished from my house.

    Last Saturday, Sarah volunteered me to entertain L- and P- while her and her sister hung out for a few hours. I was frustrated for only a moment, and that was only because I was given about a 2 second notice that I'd be doing so. I got over it right away, because the girls adore me, and I rather adore them as well. I don't know why they like me as much as they do though, because I never was much of a kid person, but I'm learning. P- is absolutely enamored with me. And L- just recently realized how fun and awesome I am. I could speculate on why they've become so attached to me, but not without being hurtful to someone who may or may not be in their lives. So, we'll just simply say that I'm an awesome uncle.

    I asked the girls if they wanted to watch "Monsters", and they shrieked with delight. After that, we watched Aladdin, then Tarzan. I say that we "watched" the films, but we basically just had them on in the background. We paid attention to Aladdin because I hadn't seen it in ages, and was pretty absorbed in it. The rest of the time, we played with toys and tickles. When Sarah came into the room to check on us, there were blankets, pillows, and toys EVERYWHERE.

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    I did have a scare when P- announced that she had to use the potty. I rushed into the kitchen, told them about the emergency and asked, "what do I do?"

    Sarah and her sister thought this was the pinnacle of hilarity, while I failed to find any humor, whatsoever, in the situation. I had high hopes of an "I'll take care of it, Joe" response, but I didn't get one. Luckily, the whole ordeal wasn't as terrifying as I thought it would be. I basically had to make sure she didn't fall in, had to wipe her, and button her jeans up. Still, it won't be making the cut on my "Best of Joe's Memories" album, should one ever be produced.

    You're probably asking yourself, "Why would Joe possibly want to banish these lovely people from his house? They love him and he loves them. What gives?"

    When they got to our house, the first thing L- and P- needed to do was have some dinner. As we were pulling chairs out, P- lets out a deep, mucousy cough and says, very innocently, "I'm sick."

    Need I say more? Wanna take a guess who's sick now? Yes, Tyler. Wanna guess who else is sick? Yup, Sarah's sick too. Care to take just one more stab at who else might be sick in our house? That's right folks, all three of us are sick. Bringing sick into someone's house should be a felony offense, punishable by death. I won't be able to make that into a law until I am elected Supreme Chancellor (it's close now. Very close), so banishment will have to be the acceptable alternative.

    Needless to say, Tyler isn't happy, Sarah isn't happy, I'm not happy. He's fussy when he's eating, and has trouble breathing when we lie him down for sleep. He lets us know this fact by screaming and crying. Last night, Sarah asked me if we could prop his mattress up a bit so that Tyler doesn't have to lie flat. This sounds like a job for SuperDad! I ran upstairs, grabbed two spare pillows, folded them both in half, and wedged them under the head end of Tyler's mattress. I love solving problems. I get such a sense of accomplishment from doing so. It was a bit of a chore to get Tyler to fall asleep, but that's what makes Sarah a wonderful mommy. After he finally dozed off, she put him in his newly modified crib and the boy slept until 7:30 the next morning.

    Sarah called me to tell me the great news. I was so proud of my sloping mattress contraption. But then Sarah said, "I think it's propped up to much."

    That's when I realized that I had done something very, very stupid. Tyler, over the course of the night, had slid all the way down and was completely covered by his blankets, including his face. That's how Sarah found him.

    Knowing he was fine helped me get over the initial shock pretty quickly, but it's been on my mind since then.

    I can see it now. The headline would read, "Infant dies after father props mattress to near vertical position". Then there would be a bunch of statistics about SIDS, and the various charges that the county prosecutor was pressing against me.

    This really did freak me out. The thing is though: I should know better. If I read an article like that in the paper, I'd be all over the father, calling him an idiot and wondering what he could possibly have been thinking at the time.

    I'm not the overprotective type. If Tyler falls down and bumps his head, I'm going to ask him what lessons he's learned about gravity. If he scrapes his knee in the driveway, I'll explain that when two substances are rubbed together, creating friction, the harder substance will always win. And when he inevitably follows in his father's footsteps and falls out of a tree, I'm going to sit him down and ask him two questions.

    "Remember when you fell down and bumped your head?"

    Through his sobs, Tyler would say, "y-y-y-yes, d-d-daddy."

    "And didn't I warn you not to f*** with gravity?"

    My point is, I don't think I'm being overprotective in beating myself up for making a stupid mistake. It's done though, and I've learned my lesson.

    I'm fairly certain that Tyler slept the entire night BECAUSE of what I did, though. He has a habit of getting his arms and hands out from under his covers every night, and always has chilly fingers in the morning. Before you suggest it, mittens won't work; he's a thrasher, and they'd just come off. Being trapped at the end of the bed, covered in blankets to the point of near-suffocation helped him stay snuggly and warm, so he slept soundly. Morbid? Slightly. True? Probably.

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    This is a picture that P- DEMANDED that be taken of her and I