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    The decisions that we make

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    I sometimes wonder if, when I started this little blog of mine, maybe I should have set it up a little more anonymously. Some of the blogs I frequent use letters to refer to their loved ones. Tyler would be T, Sarah would be Ess... You get the picture. I tend to be more along the lines of the full-disclosure type along with a couple of the other blogs I follow. There are any number of reasons why somebody would want to maintain a level of anonymity on the internet. You could have worries about the executives within your company knowing about your personal life. Maybe you work for the shadow government and are under constant surveillance. Maybe you're delusional, and THINK you work for the shadow government and are under constant surveillance. The list goes on.

    My reasons for thinking I should have gone the anonymous route are simple. I don't want you to call Child Protective Services on me. I don't want to be exiled from my small town. I don't want to be ostracized by my friends or outcast from my family. But, in the spirit of full-disclosure, I'm going to tell this story anyway.

    Tyler is a brat. Maybe "is" is the wrong term. A better one would be "can sometimes be". Tyler can sometimes be a brat. He caught a cold last week. As a result, he cried a lot, didn't sleep very well, and ate poorly. If you were to pile all that into a bucket and take it to your local 4-H fair, it would win Best-in-Show as the "Fail Pail". Needless to say, we've had a rough go of things over the past few days.

    Yesterday was no exception. Due to his over-tiredness, Tyler would cry and fuss through feedings, and he fought sleep very, very hard. And, due to Tyler being fussy and over-tired, Sarah was fussy and over-tired. She finally decided to take Tyler upstairs, and they would both (try to) take a nap together, because they both needed it.* I stayed downstairs. I had been vegging out on the couch all day, on account of me being sick also, watching MMA fighting.

    Two hours later, the dogs come tearing down the stairs. Ten times out of ten, this means that Sarah is coming down as well. I paused the TV - DVR is modern man's greatest invention, possibly the greatest of all of mankind - so I could see how her and Tyler were feeling after their nap. But there was a problem; Sarah didn't have Tyler with her.

    After a big stretch, she says, "man, I needed that."

    I reply with, "Is TyTy still sleeping?"

    "He. Is. OUT."

    Sarah goes off into the kitchen to start dinner - meatloaf, smashed potatoes, and a fruit salad - and I continue to watch Enoch Wilson beat the snot out of some other guy.

    About an hour goes by. I finished watching the fights and was looking through the guide, and I had this... feeling. Staying calm, and doing my best to keep my composure, I start up the stairs, careful to skip the first one because it creaks the worst. I count each step as my foot lands on it. "2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14." And if you're wondering, yes, I do count stairs everytime I'm on them. It's my slight OCD kicking in. I could dedicate an entire blog post to the number of steps in houses, buildings, and fire escapes, or on the color coding and design of parking structures. But I wouldn't do that to you.

    Upon topping the final step, I quietly walked into the bedroom. I see Tyler, smack dab in the middle of our queen sized bed, chillin' like a villian. Out. Cold. I stare at him for a moment, but don't see his belly moving up and down. Terror washed over me. I sprinted to the side of the bed and knelt down. I stared, senses sharp as a razor. Nothing, no movement. I'm in a near panic at this point.

    And this is where you dear readers will say to yourselves, "What is wrong with that man's head?"

    Have you ever had a moment where you've got only a nano-second to make a decision, but it seems like millions of thoughts and scenarios have time to swim through your mind? For example, you're putting away dishes, when a plate slips from your fingers and goes flipping downward to the ceramic tile floor. You have just a moment to decide whether to let it hit the floor, whether to try to grab it, or whether to position your foot so that it will break the plates fall and hopefully save it from breaking into many tiny pieces. All those thoughts go through your head in a flash. Or a dog dashes out in front of your car. You can brake, go left, go right, or go straight. All in the span of a lightning flash, you rationalize everything. Go left and you could get into a head on crash, go right and you sideswipe the minivan next to you, brake and get rear-ended by the Prius that's tailing you. Go straight, and you take this dog's life. As morbid as it is, it happens.

    Well, I had one of those moments as I tried to see Tyler's belly move. On one hand, I was petrified that my beautiful baby boy wasn't breathing. I wanted to (HAD TO) put my hand on his chest/belly and feel for his breathing. I had to put my ear next to his nose. I had to know. My head was swimming in thoughts. Ambulances, hospitals.... worse. But... hold on just a second... on the other hand... I didn't want to wake him up. If I put my hand on his chest, he may jerk himself awake, and the boy really needed his sleep. DON'T JUDGE ME!!!

    Thank the heavens above, I didn't actually need to make that decision. Just at that moment, his fingers twitched. I let out a deep, deep, quiet sigh of relief. I put my finger on his palm and he grasped it. And stayed asleep.

    *I want to note that I'm not calling Sarah grumpy or anything here... I'm just saying that they was tired and needed some sleep.

    Tyler makes me sick

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    I got home from Nashville on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Sarah tells me that she thinks Tyler is getting sick.


    On Tuesday, Sarah and Tyler went to spend the afternoon with Sarah's sister (Jiillian), Jilian's daughter (Lexi), and some friends of Jillian. A girls' night thing, apparently. Well, I guess Lexi, who's around 18 months old, was congested and moody. For whatever reason, they assumed she was teething, and not a carrier of the black plague, as I would have immediately deduced, had I been present at the time.

    With a heavy tone of sarcasm, I can tell you that Friday was a LOT of fun. Tyler cried and cried and cried. And when he was done crying, he cried some more. We foolishly tried giving him a bottle. Tyler has been breastfed exclusively, save one night. Trying to give him a bottle while he is sick is a mistake that ONLY new parents can make. Well, we made that mistake. I had already, in previous days, had a couple issues where Tyler didn't want to be held or comforted by me. He wanted his mommy, and that was it. Although I know this isn't the case, I felt overcome with a sense of rejection. It had a profound affect on me. The sum of those instances along with Friday's drama left me very discouraged. It saddened me to the point that I had to give Tyler to Sarah and head upstairs to be alone for a few minutes. I fully understand that he's with Sarah everyday, and I shouldn't take it personally... but it's hard.

    Tyler also decided that he had no desire to be in his bed that night. We didn't want to lie him flat anyway. We wanted to prop him up somehow so that he could breathe a little easier. I didn't see an easy way to do that at the time, so Sarah decided to just let him sleep in our bed. I wasn't planning on going to bed for another hour or so, so I opted to just sleep on the couch, because I didn't want to possibly wake Tyler when I came up.

    I spent the next half an hour searching around on Google for sick babies. At 11:40p, I made a run up to Walmart to pick up some Vicks BabyRub. As I'm trying to navigate the many shelves and racks of medication, an announcement comes over the speaker system.

    "The registers will shut down in 5 minutes. Please complete your purchases by then. The store will re-open at 12:05 am."

    Excuse me? The sign on the front of the building CLEARLY states that they are open 24 hours a day. I've worked in retail before. It was a horrible experience, but it has afforded me the knowledge of how retail operations work. I assume that Walmart needs to poll their registers every night, and need to balance their tills. Luckily for me, an employee - that looked like she had absolutely no desire to be there - happened by. I asked for help, and she took me to the baby medicine section. I grabbed the Vicks BabyRub, and hightailed it to the registers.

    I'm sure that our particular Walmart is just like most of the others out there, but let me set this up anyway. There are around 35 registers. Eight of them are the cursed "self checkout" registers that rarely work. My two major gripes with the self checkout registers at Walmart are as follows:

    1) There is no limit on how many items you can bring through. On more than one occasion, I've seen people with carts that are absolutely overflowing with food and clothes trying to check themselves out.
    2) It's always the people that DON'T know how to use the self checkout that end up using the self checkout. The one employee overlooking all of the self checkout registers seems to loathe their job more than the zombie-lady that helped me find the Vicks BabyRub, and has no intention of helping the person until they've been standing there, swiping the wrong barcode for at least 5 minutes.
    3) I know I said I've got 2 gripes, but I've got to get this one in there too... I HATE the software that runs those systems. If you so much as breathe on the bagging area it starts barking commands at you to remove the last bagged item. You do so, and it just freezes and the stupid red light starts flashing - notifying the sole employee to actually take 3 or 4 steps over to you to help you. You know, effectively ruining their entire day.

    But guess what??? Out of the 35 registers at Walmart, only 1 is open at 11:45pm. I am THE LAST PERSON in line, and I've only got one freaking item. When it's my turn to check out, the guy at the register tells me that he needs to shut down and that I'll need to wait 15 minutes before I can ring out.

    I gave him the I-know-you're-joking-but-am-really-not-in-the-mood-for-it look, and quickly realized that he wasn't joking. I was in no mood whatsoever to get into a discussion with him about it so - as politely as I could - I said, "I've got a sick baby at home. Either you're going to sell this to me right now, or I'm walking out with it."

    He looks over his shoulder to a lady that I never even saw. I assume she must have been his manager. She had a tone that made me think that she believed this cashier to be the dumbest man on the planet. She said, "Yes, ring him out." I can't do it justice in type, but she was less than pleased that he said I'd have to wait. Either that, or she played it off really well.

    The Vicks BabyRub seemed to have made a world of difference. Unfortunately, I seem to have caught whatever it is that Tyler caught. My throat is all scratchy and sore right now. Chloraseptic spray isn't doing much good, but it never really does anyway. That crap only works for about 5 seconds, yet it's one of the first things I reach for when I get a sore throat.

    And I feel so bad for Sarah, because I'm the biggest baby in the WORLD when I'm sick.

    When in Rome... go to the hospital

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    Do you mind if I do a non-Tyler, non-parenthood post today?

    I had to fly to Nashville, TN on Tuesday. With the work that I do, I don't necessarily have co-workers. I work alone 99% of the time. So do all the other reps around the country. So, our region has quarterly meetings where we all get together, go over numbers, and hang out. This quarterly meeting was in Tennessee. All in all, it was a good time.

    I get there Tuesday around 11am. After getting hotel rooms figured out (what a FUBAR situation that was), we all had lunch. Pulled pork, grilled chicken, beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and some type of apple dessert. Yum yum. After lunch, we had a couple meetings, then a friendly competition. I threw the competition. I feel bad in hindsight. I didn't want to win, but I also didn't want to lose. We placed dead last because of my sand-bagging. Whoops! Then we had one-on-one meetings with our managers to go over our individual numbers/performance.

    Once this was out of the way, we headed to our rooms, changed into casual clothing and waited for dinner time. A few of us went to the Applebees that was in the hotel. I had one drink. This was at 5:30pm.

    At 6p, we all hopped in taxis and drove to a restaurant called "The Aquarium". Obviously, it was a seafood restaurant. I'm not a fan of seafood. Sometimes, Sarah makes telapia which I find quite tasty. Aside from that, I steer clear of seafood. I just don't like it. I decided that I was going to take a chance this day though. Whenever I find myself at a seafood restaurant, I get chicken, or a salad. This day, I got the Sirloin and Shrimp dinner (sometimes called a surf-n-turf).

    The appetizers came out first. I couldn't even begin to name what all was there. I had bruschetta bread with some type of crab/cheese dip. Man it was good! When the food came out, I ate my Sirloin because it was delicious! I only ate about 4 shrimp though, because I just don't find it as tasty. I had 2 drinks at the restaurant.

    I should mention that my "drinks" are Captain Morgan & Coke, with a splash of grenadine (for a cherry coke taste).

    After "The Aquarium" we all head over to Dave & Busters. I'd never heard of Dave & Busters before. So, if you're like me, you need an explanation. Dave & Busters is an arcade for adults. They've got a ton of arcade games (video games, racing games, crane games, skiball, etc), but in a bar setting. I had 3 drinks here. I spent most of the night playing Daytona USA with 7 other guys. It turned out to be more of a demolition derby than actual racing, but it was a great time.

    We left around 11p, because we used up all the credits that our managers gave us. The plan was to head back to the hotel. Those of us that wanted to crash could head up to their rooms, the rest would head back to Applebees.

    The taxi ride (mini-van with about 5 of us in each taxi) is about 10 minutes long. On the way back to the hotel, my right cheek started itching. I didn't think anything of it. About the time that we're pulling up to the hotel, I rub my palm along my cheek and notice that it feels bumpy. When we got out of the cab and into the lobby of the hotel, I ask one of the guys if my face looks funny. His facial expression said enough, but he must not have realized that because, in addition to the look of horror on his face, he says, "HOLY S**T!!"

    What followed was a bunch of pointing and commenting by the rest of my taxi-mates.

    Physically, I felt fine. I had a slight buzz going. I only had 6 drinks over the course of 6 hours, so I was doing just fine. On the advice of my manager, I got two Benadryl pills from the front desk and took them. Aside from my less than appealing appearance, and some itching, I felt great, so I went to Applebees. I only had water while here. About 10 minutes in, the itching was much, much worse. And I noticed that there was some swelling at the corners of my mouth. The word "hospital" was mentioned a few times. Sometimes to my face, other times as part of another conversation (about me) that I wasn't involved in. One of the people there was scared to be near me. Another guy said my face looked like a tomato, but covered in bumps.

    I decided to check out the damage. A look of sheer terror washed over my face when I looked in the mirror. I only wish I would have had the presence of thought to have a camera nearby. My face was COVERED in bumps, and completely red. My neck was also covered. COVERED! I didn't check below the waist, because I didn't want to drop my trousers in front of a mirror in a hotel bathroom. I did lift my shirt though. My back was rather nasty and riddled with bumps, and my front side had about 10 or so. My face and neck were the worst though. There were some bumps on my arms as well.

    My manager, and the manager of our sister region met me just outside of the bathroom. I'd never had anything like this happen to be before, so I was open to suggestions. They both said "hospital". I still felt pretty good, so we (me and my manager) decided against calling an ambulance, and opted for a taxi instead. We went to the local hospital's Emergency department. I filled out the information and waited. As I'm sitting in the waiting room, I noticed that I was starting to have difficulty swallowing. I immediately concentrated on my breathing and noticed it was a little raspy and wasn't as easy to do anymore.

    I mentioned to the very nice lady at the desk that my throat was starting to swell a bit. Within about, oh, 2 seconds, I was being taken to Emergency. A guy comes in with some pills and needles. We tell him that I'd already taken 25mg of Benedryl beforehand. He says "Well, you're about to get some more then." He gives me a Prednisone pill, and 2 Pepcid (because the Prednisone is hard on the stomach). He is then having a conversation with my manager about the stretchers at the hospital (we work for the company that makes them). I'm listening, but not really participating, because I'm not feeling so hot. Suddenly, and without warning, the guy (without ever even taking his eyes off my manager) stabs the needle into my shoulder.

    It's hard to explain the feeling. It wasn't pain, exactly, but it sure as heck wasn't peaches and lollipops either. It felt like someone punched me real good in the arm. Then, a crampy feeling started moving its way down my arm, all the way to my finger tips. It was extremely uncomfortable. Within seconds, I was a zombie. At one point, I am certain that I was sleeping with my eyes open. But the itching disappeared within about 1 second of getting the shot. The swelling in my throat and lips was gone within seconds as well. The bumps stuck around for a bit, but were noticeably better. I couldn't walk straight when I stood up, and found myself wondering if it was dangerous to have had 6 alcoholic drinks, then following that up with a bunch of make-you-drowsy Benedryl.

    Thinks were pretty fuzzy after that. I don't know how much longer we were at the hospital. I know we got back to the hotel around 2:40am. My manager told me that I didn't need to be at the first couple meetings and to just sleep in. I couldn't tell you why I set the alarm on my phone anyway.

    I got to my room, and my key wouldn't work. I had to stand outside of the room, catatonic, for about 10 minutes, waiting for security to let me in. The last thing I remember was taking my shoes off. After that, everything was black. I was dog tired, but feeling great otherwise at 7am, when the alarm went off. I made it to the meetings just fine.

    Before Tuesday, I had no known allergies. I still don't know for sure what it was that triggered that reaction in me. My guess would be the crab dip stuff. From what I hear, shellfish is a common allergy for people to have, and crab is a shellfish. So... maybe. I'd only had crab one other time in my life. Sarah had some at Red Lobster, and I tried a bite. Nothing happened at the time, so... I just don't know.

    I played it off at the time, but once I felt the swelling in my throat, I was scared. Genuinely scared. I can 100% guarantee you that I will never touch seafood again (except for Sarah's tilapia).

    An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent

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    As I write this post - or at least begin to write this post - I am flying, I don't know, about 30,000 feet above the Earth. If the plane crashes, I'm going to be very unhappy. I don't enjoy thinking of my own mortality. But, now that I am responsible for both a wife and a son, well I just can't help it. So what did I do when the friendly stewardess told us to "turn off and stow away all electronic devices until further notice"? Did I turn off and stow away my phone so that it wouldn't cause any electronic disturbances with the flight equipment and gauges? Nope, I continued to blog from my Blackberry Smartphone. And what did I do while she demonstrated how to use an oxygen mask, and what to do in case of an emergency? I continued to blog, of course. It's ok, though, right? I did turn off the wireless antenna afterall.

    I guess we'll find out in a little over an hour.

    I love reading books to Tyler. I fully admit that I don't do it enough, and have resolved to correct that. But, all the reading I do, I do silently. I haven't read out loud in ages. I've read news stories to Sarah on occasion, but not very often. When it's booktime with Tyler, I read 5 books to him, some books more than once. That's a lot of reading out loud.

    When I'm reading to myself (newspaper or internet), I read fast. I don't exactly consider myself to be a speed reader, but it's close to that. So, when I'm reading out loud to Tyler, my eyes are trying to move much quicker than my mouth. I keep getting tongue tied, and mixed around. It's frustrating. I have to consciously slow myself down because I sound like the nervous kid in school who stumbles on every third or fourth word when reading to the class.

    By the way, I HATE flying. I feel nauseated right now.

    Back in school, when we had to "read aloud in class" (I question whether aloud is really a word, but I can't look it up right now. But, that is how the teacher said it), I did so, and I did so pretty well - as far as enunciating and accuracy go. What I didn't do was care. I was completely monotonic. I had no inflection in my voice. I sounded like the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, kinda like a robot. When I had to read as Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet (in-class reading, not a live play, thank God), every one of my sentences ended as a question because I couldn't understand that crap. I remember feeling quite uncomfortable and stupid once, while reading as a character in class. I don't remember the character or the book, but he was Canadian. Most of his sentences ended with "eh?", which I now know is pronounced as "ay". I didn't know that then and kept saying the short E sound, like in the word "kept".

    What should have been, "You're going to the store, ay?"

    Instead was, "You're going to the store, ehhh?"

    The kids laughed and the stupid butthole of a teacher didn't correct me. And were there many lines that ended like that, eh? Yah, dere were, donchaknow.

    Anyway, when I read to Tyler, I find myself giving each character their own voice. My vocal impersonation of Grover isn't even close to what it should be, but Tyler doesn't seem to mind (yet). I also try to put emotion into their statements. And it's extremely strange to me for 2 reasons. The first is the simple fact that I never thought I would do something like that. I honestly didn't think I had it in me. The other reason is that it felt completely natural. It may not make sense to you that I'm saying that something that feels quite natural feels quite strange BECAUSE it feels natural, but it's true. It must be the next natural step into fatherhood, but knowing that I've never been like that previously is what made it strange. Clear as mud? Good, because I'm moving on. Stranger yet, to me at least, is that I don't mind doing the voices or putting character into the story when Sarah's with me. I expected that I would get nervous and shy, but it was fine. I can't go so far as to say I wouldn't feel slightly awkward out in public doing something like that, though. Part of me thinks that the general populous wouldn't pay any mind, because I have a baby, and that's what you do when you have a baby. But then I'll read something like this, and wonder.

    Another dilemma with giving each character their own voice is not always knowing which character is talking. If you're going to write a children's book, take note. Instead of:

    "Let's go to the park and play on the swings and shoot down the slide", said Baby Bear, gleefully.

    Use this:

    Gleefully, Baby Bear said, "
    Let's go to the park and play on the swings and shoot down the slide".

    Written the former, I will possibly use the wrong voice or tone, embarrassing myself and confusing Tyler. Either that, or I'll need to read ahead silently to see who's speaking, creating uncomfortable pauses in the story, causing Tyler to think I'm "a little slow".

    Written the latter... NO CONFUSION, unless you don't know what "gleefully" means. And in that case, you need help from someone with the letters "PhD" at the end of their name, not from me.

    Just landed in Detroit. One more plane to Nashville now.

    I honestly couldn't tell you if my mommy or daddy read me stories when I was a baby. I have trouble remembering what I did 3 days ago. Trying to remember that far back is just not possible. They could have read to me hours and hours each day, but I just don't know. It is completely possible though. I have no memory of being potty trained, but I'm sure I was. Aside from aiming issues here and then, I'm pretty versed in the ways of the toilet. Too much? Sorry.

    The benefit of either not having story time, or not remembering story time, is that I'm reading all these stories for the first time. I'm reading Curious George to Tyler, secretly wondering how he's going to get out of the mess he's in, and wondering if the man in the yellow hat is going to find out about George's shenanigans. Or, while reading Horton Hatches an Egg, wondering if it's appropriate to read a story to him about a mother that abandons her baby. I guess it can't be worse than old time favorites like Hansel & Gretel and its dabbling on cannibalism, or Goldilocks & the Three Bears where the entire storyline revolves around trespassing, burglary, theft, and destruction of private property.

    At the end of the day, I'm fine with all of those stories. What I am not fine with is all the censoring that's going on nowadays. I am appalled that Cookie Monster is no longer a Cookie Monster because cookies are a "sometimes food". When I watched Tom & Jerry, they chased each other with hammers and knives and guns even. Not anymore though. That kind of content can't be allowed to be seen by the impressionable children. Nevermind putting responsibility on the parents to teach their kids right from wrong; let's have the television raise our kids and teach them morals. Pretty soon, sporting events will be taken off of daytime television because one team will be the loser, and you can't have that. You just can't let a child see somebody lose because "everybody's a winner", just like you can't use red grading pens on kids' papers now. Gimme a break.

    But I enjoy reading to Tyler because we're both hearing the story for the first time. That's esentially the point of this post.

    I'm getting ready to land now. I don't want the landing gear to malfunction, so I guess it's time I shut my phone off. I really would hate to be the subject of the news story "Man refuses to turn off phone on plane. 172 perish as a result".

    Say cheese

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    So there I am, sitting on the computer - because where else would you expect me to be? - catching up on Digg. Sarah is in the other room, feeding Tyler. After a little bit, I hear Sarah walking across the dining room, towards the office. This is one of those things that catch my attention. Nine times out of ten, if Sarah needs something, she'll call me into the living room. It's usually for trivial things. Once, she wanted to let me know that Tyler's butt had just exploded. Another time was to ask if a lady in one of her daily shows was Finkel/Einhorn (from Ace Ventura - it was). So, to have Sarah come to me; it didn't make me stop in my tracks or anything like that, but it piqued my attention.



    "Look at Tyler's neck, what is that?"

    She brings Tyler to me and attempts to show me what she was referring to. This turned out to be a difficult task, for a couple reasons. Tyler apparently didn't want to show off his neck. As we were pushing on his back and his forehead to force his head back and expose his neck, Tyler was pushing back, and doing a pretty decent job. If Tyler ever becomes an MMA fighter, his opponents will find it impossible to catch him in a rear naked choke, because Tyler can tuck his chin with the best of 'em. The other issue is that Tyler has rolls in his neck (and his arms, and legs). Getting deep into the area that Sarah had somehow discovered was not easy. It's possible - quite likely, actually - that this was the first time I'd ever seen this particular area of Tyler's body. I am in awe, and slightly ashamed, that Google can capture the entire PLANET, and there are areas on my own son's body that I have never seen.

    We finally manage to get his head cocked back, and his neck rolls separated, so that I could see what Sarah was talking about.

    Tyler had neck cheese. There honestly was a voice in the depths of my mind that asked, "Is he seriously churning breastmilk in his neck rolls into cheese?" What a sicko.

    Turns out that this is actually an issue with chubby babies. Google results on a search for (redness baby neck rolls) gives 2 diagnoses. It's either a yeast infection, or the equivalent of a diaper rash, but on his neck. So, we treated it as if it were a diaper rash. With Desitin. Sarah slathered it on there after his bath. The next morning, his neck looked tons better.

    So now we have to put baby powder in his neck rolls to keep the moisture out. You can't just slap it on there because babies will breathe it in and get respiratory issues from it. Instead, you have to put it in your hand, rub your hands together, THEN put it on his neck.

    So that's that. Tyler makes cheese in his neck rolls.

    Farmer Brown is a drunken A-hole

    *sigh* Ya know, things can escalate and get out of hand pretty quickly in the Gearhart household.

    Everything you are about to read is completely true, and really did happen last night.

    This is the Brown Farm

    This is the Brown farm. It is run by Farmer Brown. I was catching up on a couple blogs last night (I've been slacking, I know), while Sarah and Tyler were on the floor, playing with the Brown farm and Farmer Brown (Sarah and Tyler chose that name earlier). They were having a good time when Sarah says to me, "feel free to join us down here."

    If any of us had any idea what would happen as a result of that statement, she would have opted, instead, to say nothing! I'm sure of this.

    So I get down on the floor and start moving the animals around. One of the first things I notice is that the chicken is HUGE! It's the same size as the horse!

    "What kind of farm are you running here?" I asked Farmer Brown.

    Say "HI" to Farmer Brown

    This is Farmer Brown. As I was "walking" him across his farm, he got stuck on the velcro that holds the animals in place. In a high-pitched Farmer Brown voice, I said, "Help me. Help Meeeeeeeeeeee.", and I shook him back and forth.

    In a throwback to Knight Rider, I added, "Kitt, I need help."

    Sarah manned the tractor and backed it up to Farmer Brown, presumably, to hook a tow line to him and pull him out. I completely misunderstood the intention, because there is something wrong with my head.

    I asked Sarah, "What exactly are you making that tractor do to Farmer Brown, sicko?"

    Traumatized, Farmer Brown walked to the back of the farm and said, "I need a drink".

    At this point, Sarah and I were cracking up. Tyler was lying on the floor between us, but he was no longer a part of this. Sarah and I were playing with tiny, stuffed toys, and it was a riot.

    Farmer Brown had a few too many

    Then, Farmer Brown came back. He stumbled back towards the farm, speaking jibberish. In my best Farmer Brown voice, I said, "Ooom uuuhlll flubber fack uuuuhhhh chicken dagnab mutant blargh."

    With my almighty hand, I guided Farmer Brown towards the chicken.

    Farmer Brown sneaks up on a chicken

    I snuck Farmer Brown up behind the chicken. At this point, there were no longer any streams of thought in my head. Things were happening wholly on their own.

    Farmer Brown crowed, "Damn chicken!"

    "Damn Chicken!"

    Farmer Brown threw his leg forward and launched the chicken into the air.

    The chicken flies

    There was no arc to its flight path. The chicken launched and soared like a missle.

    In his drunken stupor, Farmer Brown failed to make himself aware of his surroundings, or where the chicken's tragectory may take it.


    Following the law named for Edward Murphy, the chicken popped Sarah directly in her eye.

    Farmer Brown, along with the hand controlling him, were scared. Naturally, he hightailed it out of there.

    Farmer Brown hightails it

    Farmer Brown is not a fast runner.

    Farmer Brown finds an escape

    Knowing that he wouldn't stand a chance against Sarah on foot, he hopped onto his tractor.


    Luckily for him, the tractor fired right up. I displayed my horrible ability to make sound effects with my mouth. Making my best impression of a tractor, I growled, "RRRRRRRRrrrrRRRuuuuuUUUUuuumMMMmmmMMMMM." He dropped it into gear, and nailed the throttle. The front wheels left the ground. The rear tires broke traction...

    and this is where things went HORRIBLY wrong...

    Joe goes too far

    Trying my best to emulate the sound of tires screeching, I put my voice up a few octaves to a "shrill" level and bellowed, "ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!"

    Guided by my hand, the tractor - along with Farmer Brown - tore off into the distance and to safety.

    Very quietly, Sarah says, "Uh oh."

    I look back to her and see that she is looking at Tyler, quite apprehensively...

    Tyler reacts
    (Sorry, I don't have any recent pics of Tyler screaming)

    Turns out, my screeching tire impression scared the jeepers out of Tyler, causing him to begin screaming his head off. It took a long time... a LONG TIME to calm him back down. We're talking about 45 minutes. He was over-tired anyway (didn't nap at all yesterday), so I'm sure that added to it.

    Needless to say, Brown Farm playtime was over. We put Tyler to bed soon after that. I looked at Sarah and said "We need to reenact this, so I can get some pictures."

    We had a lot of fun with the reenactment. We constantly found ourselves stifling laughter, for fear of waking Tyler up.

    Smiling is unnatural?

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    Pouty McPouterson
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    It took around 8 weeks for Tyler to learn how to smile. He got that trait, presumably, from seeing Sarah and I smile at him. All. The. Time.

    How is it, then, that Tyler - and, I would assume, all babies - has pouting built right into his genetic code? It's one of those "pre-programmed" things that guarantees that he's going get whatever it is that he wants. He was completely passive about everything the day he was born. I thanked the Lord up above for giving us a calm, quiet baby. Twenty-four hours later, I cursed the devil-nurse that gave Tyler his first (sponge)bath. It was then that Tyler realized that his lungs served another purpose than merely providing oxygen to his blood vessels and, in turn, life to his body. Thanks to this she-spawn of Satan, Tyler discovered the art of crying. I just want to pass along a little nugget of information to all of you. Babies do not cry, they scream. Tyler has cried fewer times than the number of fingers I have on one hand. One such crying incident was yesterday, and it was COMPLETELY my fault; I'll blog about that later. He has screamed loads of times, though.

    Let's get back to what this nurse - who managed to stand up straight, despite the fact that she had no spine, and had a small, black heart, completely devoid of love and compassion - and what she did to my son. His cryscreams were quiet, almost cute, but I knew what they would become as his lungs matured, and it scared me. This nurse... This... This... This... Devil incarnate, has the nerve, the AUDACITY, to tell me that it's good when babies cry because it opens their lungs and clears out the mucous in their throats. Hogwash!! I laid witness, not 24 hours earlier, to an amazing surgery - a surgery where I saw parts of my wife that I never wanted to see - which swiftly disproved the "a stork delivers a baby to your porch" myth, and you're telling me that you can't just stick a turkey baster down his throat and suck all that crap out, effectively negating the need for crying? I say again, hogwash.

    *deep breath*
    *deep breath*
    *deep breath*

    What was I saying? Oh, crying. In the moments before he unleased about 95db of ear piercing goodness, Tyler had a blank face, completely content with everything he had experienced thus far. My face was about 10 inches from Tyler's face. When the wet, soapy devil-rag was pressed against his belly, he looked at me - still blank faced - for about another second. Then, his bottom lip started to push out and the corners of his mouth drew down into a pout.

    I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that Tyler had not seen a single frown nor pout while "on the outside". I'm slightly less so, but still fairly certain that he had not seen those looks on the inside either. Therefore, he somehow knew how to pout without ever seeing it done before.

    Most people would then deduce that smiles are a learned trait, and frowns/pouts are an instinctual trait. Luckily for you, my brain doesn't work like most peoples'. Through my superhuman logic and powers of observation, I now know the truth, and am ready to pass it along.

    I submit to you, dear reader, that frowns, pouts, AND smiles are as instinctual as breathing or swallowing. I submit to you that if your baby didn't start smiling until 8 weeks after birth, maybe he or she just wasn't happy until that point. Ever think of that?

    My baby girl!!

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    (See all of Delilah's photos here)
    Yesterday, Sarah and I decided we wanted Wendy's for dinner. I know... fast food. We rarely ever eat fast food. Sarah's an excellent cook, and LOVES preparing food. Yesterday, though, we were both having a hankering (I hesitate to say "craving" because I will forever associate that word with pregnancy now) for one of their burgers. I brought Delilah with me. She loves going for rides in the car and can't wait to stick her head out of the window.

    While we were at a red light and her head was out the window, the light hit the back of her head just right, and I saw 3 small bumps on the top of her head, between her ears.

    "Poor girl", I thought. "Stupid mosquitoes".

    We had our supper, played some cribbage and went to bed.

    Now, let me back up for just a moment to explain something. Delilah and Logan each have their own beds in the bedroom with us. Logan always sleeps on the floor or in his bed. Same with Delilah. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we typically all wake up "as a family". We'll call the dogs on the bed to lie with us for a bit before we all head downstairs. That's about the only time Logan's on the bed. For some reason, he doesn't particularly enjoy being on the bed while we're on it. BUT, whenever Sarah and I leave the house, Logan sleeps on our bed. It's weird, I know.

    Delilah LOVES being on the bed with us. As a matter of fact, whenever one of us (Sarah or I) get out of bed, Delilah hops on the bed to take the empty spot. EVERY SINGLE DAY. She's gotten in a little bit of trouble for it, because she takes Sarah's spot while she's feeding Tyler. Not really a big deal, but Delilah hates getting off the bed once she's on, and you have to drag her off of it. It's humorous, except at 4 in the morning.

    Last night, Delilah was whining for the entire night to get on the bed with us. It was insanely annoying. We told her to shut up and go to bed, which she did. But this happened a few times last night.

    This morning, I get up and get the dogs downstairs to go outside for their "business" when Delilah stepped outside and the morning light hit her, I saw that she was absolutely COVERED in bumps. I stood there, staring at her and blinking stupidly. What the hell happened to my baby girl overnight? I just honestly thought my mind had gone all goofy and was playing with me. Delilah turned to face me and I saw that one of her eyes was swollen almost completely shut. When Sarah came downstairs, I told her what I saw, and called Delilah in the room so she could see.

    I am insanely attached to Delilah. Even though she's our dog, she is MY dog. So, I was already kinda freaking out over this whole thing. When Sarah saw her, she gasped, and it scared the crap out of me. She said it looked like hives. I didn't know what to do, and Sarah had to actually tell me to call the vet. I left a message because they weren't open yet. I then immediately hopped on google and started reading about hives and what to do. During all this, Sarah told me that Delilah's been chewing on her feet for a few days too.

    The general consensus online was that it was an allergy, and I kinda had that feeling already. I gave her 2 benedryl (per what I read online) and waited for the vet to call back.

    Delilah's had issues with foot-chewing before, and had an ear infection recently (for a free dog, she's been rather expensive for us). We switched her to a dog food that's completely corn free (apparently, many dogs are allergic to corn, and MOST dog foods have corn in it). It kinda helped. She didn't chew as much, and her ears were doing better. I did get a new bag of dog food a few weeks back, but it was also corn free.

    The doc usually doesn't work Mondays, but told me to meet him at his office anyway (thank you so very much!!! I love our vet). He said it looked very much like an allergy and asked all sorts of questions. In the end, he said that food was likely the culprit, but it's hard to tell. So, he got us set up with a "prescription" dog food. It's called "Z/D Ultra". It's 100% allergen free, so if she clears up on this food, we've got a jumping off point. If not, who knows. He also gave her a steroid shot (sorry, Delilah) with a little bit of benedryl in it to get rid of the hives.

    I got her home, and she slept the ENTIRE day. She didn't pick her head up when we entered or left the room. She didn't look at us while we were eating (which is completely out of character). It broke my heart.

    It looks like the shot did the trick on the hives and itching though. The bumps are about 99% gone, and she hasn't itched at all.

    Here's the story on the dog food. If it works... you keep her on it for 12 weeks, to allow her body to get rid of all its built up allergens. Then, you start introducing ingredients, one at a time, for 2 weeks at a time. It's called an "elimination diet". So, after 12 weeks, we boil chicken and add it to her food for 2 weeks. If that's good, we add corn for 2 weeks, then oatmeal, then grain, then lamb. So on and so forth. If she has a reaction, that's the food you stay away from. We don't necessarily need to introduce all that stuff to her, just enough until we can find a dog food that will work for her. Z/D has BHA as an ingredient, so I don't want this to be a long-term food for her. That, and a 27 pound bag costs $85. Ouch.

    Here are pics of her from today:

    These pics are later in the day, when she's just sleeping:

    Get well soon, baby D.

    Shut the #@!% UP!!

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    Just shut up. I really can't deal with this crap any longer. Tyler seems to enjoy fighting sleep. I mean, why else would he be doing so, if he didn't enjoy it? When he does end up falling asleep, he sleeps pretty heavily (thank you for passing along that gene, Sarah). That doesn't stop me, though, from wanting to create an environment that encourages him to continue sleeping.

    Aside from force-feeding Sarah a couple handfuls of sleeping pills - and hoping that they get absorbed into her milk supply, and passed on to Tyler - about the most I can do is dim the lighting and keep the house quiet. Problem is, there is some type of silent alarm that goes off the very second Tyler dozes off. Sarah and I can't hear the alarm, so it would be hard to prove, but the rest of the free world can hear the alarm, and its a signal to make as much noise and disruption as humanly possible.

    Tyler fell asleep for a nap this afternoon, so I put him in his bouncy seat and sat him next to Sarah and I. Her and I were playing cribbage, so we were doing our part in staying quiet. Then, the neighbor dog starts barking... INCESSANTLY. So, I got up and dramatically closed the windows in the kitchen (where we all were). I hope the neighbors heard it too, although I know it won't matter; they can't control their dogs, and it drives me nuts. Anyway, the little yapper dog finally goes back in the house, leaving us in silence again. That's when Logan (one of OUR 2 dogs) decided he wanted to - as loudly as possible - start slurping water out of the dish. I'm here to tell ya that it was the loudest slurping I've EVER heard. I reached back and tapped Logan on his leg and told him he'd have to wait for his water until later.

    Do you know what he did? He walked right next to Tyler - I'm talking, 6 inches away from him - and shook, VIGOROUSLY, back and forth. He sprayed water from his gullet everywhere, including onto Tyler. Of course, his collar was on, so his tags were jingling and ringing nice and loudly. Ugh.

    All Sarah and I could do was share an exasperated look with each other. Tyler woke up very shortly afterwards. We were less than pleased with it all.

    Moving pictures

    Tyler sorta laughs and coos and is just being adorable
    (View My YouTube Channel)
    I don't know why I don't use the camcorder more often. Whenever I want to record a video, I've been doing so off the digital camera. Well that just sucks. The resolution is not good, and the framerate leaves something to be desired.

    I got the camcorder back out this week (it hadn't been used in about a year or so, for some strange reason), so I'll be posting lots of videos, I hope... and probably much to the chagrin of my loyal (heh) readers.

    I might switch over to Vimeo as well, since they accept and display higher resolution videos than YouTube does.

    Tyler needs surgery :-(

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    I come to you on this dreary pre-Autumn day to tell you that our little Tyler needs to go "under the knife". Everything's been kind of a blur on this situation, so I really couldn't pinpoint when things had started changing.

    I would like to explain some of my fears, but there are simply too many to list. Anesthesia comes to mind first. He's such a small little baby (even though he's a big baby). The anesthesiologist (who I would prefer to call "the sleep doctor", because you can say that without thinking too hard about how to pronounce anesthesiologist) could make one tiny miscalculation and... it's just too scary to think about. Or what about the actual surgeon? He's going to have one of the sharpest instruments that I know of, and he'll be taking it to my son. What if his coffee was too strong that morning, and he's all jittery and shaky? These are legitimate fears.

    I would like to take the "wait and see" approach on this. I really would. Maybe it'll clear up on its own. The dilemma that I'm faced with is that it may not clear up on its own. Wouldn't it be better to just take care of this now, while he's a baby and unlikely to remember the trauma of surgery, and the pain, afterward, of healing? I know I'm jumping all over the place, and I apologize. I'm quite scatterbrained over it all.

    So here's the story. Tyler is now 10 weeks old. These 10 weeks have been some of the most rewarding weeks of my life. Recently, a friend was looking through some of the photos I've put online of Tyler, and said something that set my head spinning. Of course, the minute I got home I started shuffling through the photos of Tyler. One after another... seeing the gradual changes. There is now no question in my mind. He needs the surgery.

    While Sarah was pregnant, she said. and I quote, "I hope he doesn't get my looks, because I wouldn't make a handsome boy". We were quite pleased when Tyler was pulled from Sarah's belly and he looked just like me. He did have Sarah's ears and cheeks, though, and they looked adorable on him.

    10 weeks later and he's starting to really look like Sarah. WTF? So now we come to the point of all my rambling. I'm going to have to foot the bill for facial reconstructive surgery. It ain't cheap either! They don't throw you discounts even though the patient is between 1/10th and 1/15th the weight of 99% of the rest of the patients they work on. The sleep doctor would need to do nothing more than just rub a little bit of Crown Royale on his gums to make him pass out. Would that stop him from charging me $1,409 and some change? Nope. No breaks for me. Oh! And guess what else... my insurance doesn't cover it. They say it's an "elective" surgery and, therefore, not covered under their policy. What the crap kind of cheap healthcare is my employer using?

    Don't get me wrong. I think Sarah's a BEAUTIFUL woman. Picturing her as a guy though... that just sends a strange feeling through me. I'm pretty sure that Sarah's biggest fear is of Tyler inheriting her height - or lack thereof. But she brings up a valid point. It does seem somewhat unnatural to see her features on my son. But like I said, he's friggin' adorable.

    Anyway, I kinda got used to the thought of Tyler looking just like I did when I was a baby, and I don't plan on allowing his genetic code to tell me otherwise. I spit in the face of DNA sequences! If I have to rely on science, technology, and medicine to fulfill my wishes, then so be it.

    Where are my blogs?!?!?!

    I'm semi-new to the blogging world. I kinda like it. There's a handful of blogs that I visit daily (which really means about 3 or 4 times a day, JUST IN CASE). I have been unable to visit 2 of them for the past 2 days, and it's making me nervous. My blog roll says that their pages have been updated within the last couple hours, but that could be a fluke.

    Mike and Heather, where are you!??!?!

    EDIT: Looks like it's just me:
    says that the site's are working. Guess I should have checked that before blogging about it.

    Strange... and it's ONLY those two sites that I can't get to load all of a sudden. I'll have to do some more looking. If Mediacom is behind this, heads will roll!

    EDIT EDIT: Ok, so I ran a traceroute from my PC and the connection dies at Mediacom. I did the same from the diagnostics page for my router and the request timed out after it hit Mediacom. I sent them a SCATHING email telling them to quit blocking my crap!

    EDIT EDIT EDIT: Ok, I haven't heard back from Mediacom yet. I'll give them one more day before I go nuts. I've had some luck by using to get to those 2 sites, but I can't leave comments when I go that route.

    Point and shoot?

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    I have a Samsung digital camera. It's a good camera. 99% of the photos that I've been taking are with that camera. This camera is a 6 megapixel camera.

    I also have a Canon Powershot digital camera. This is also a good camera. It is a 5 megapixel camera. I don't use it very much, because we've got the Samsung.

    I wouldn't care if they were 1,000,024 megapixel cameras, they are junk. Both of the cameras have been rendered useless with the arrival of little Tyler.

    I've always believed that I would grow up and be rich. I'm not talking about the high on life, "what more could a man want", "I'm rich in the figurative sense" crap. I'm talking about wiping my butt with hundred dollar bills rich. I'm 30 years old and have not yet begun wiping my butt with hundred dollar bills, but I am here to tell you now that I have found my calling. I now know how I am going to get rich, and I've got Tyler to thank for it.

    I am going to develop an affordable digital camera that takes a picture - wait for it - when you press the friggin button! None of this crap where you have to half-press the button, wait 3 seconds while it finds the faces, determines if flash is needed, and auto-focuses. Then you press the button the rest of the way to take the picture. Sure, I could just press the button all the way without doing the half-press, right? No, because it still takes 3 seconds to make those same adjustments, and does a poor job at it if you don't do the half-press. It's not a point and shoot camera. That is a point, click, wait, shoot camera.

    It never bothered me before. I said "hold that pose" more times than I care to count. A critical difference between Tyler and most of the rest of the world is that Tyler does not, ever, hold his pose. With each out of focus picture that I take, I curse the digital camera engineers that dropped the ball on this one. When I go through my routine of downloading from camera to pc, tagging, captioning, color correcting, and uploading to SmugMug, I now have to delete hordes of pictures that were about half a second from being the best pictures ever taken, in all the history of the world. And I have a very difficult time deleting photos, blurry or not.

    I said to myself, "Self, you just have to be smarter than the camera". I have to think through the problem and find a way to adapt the situation to work for me.

    Let's say I want to take a picture of Tyler smiling, a feat in and of iteself. I would hold the camera in position, half-press the button to "prime the engine" and start making goofy sounds. When Tyler smiles, CLICK! Does it work? Not really. See, the camera has a setting on it, if you haven't done anything in 5 or 10 seconds, it assumes you mistakenly pressed the button and goes back to default. So if you get that awesome smile you're looking for and press the button, it takes an additional 3 seconds. The entire time, you're praying to the gods of picture taking that Tyler can hold that smile for just one more freakin' second.

    That didn't turn out so well, so I went back to my drawings and flowcharts and schematics to figure out another way. I call this next one "anticipatory picture taking", APT for short. I thought of calling it "Anticipatory Shooting of Subject", but I didn't think the anagram would catch on. What you do is, you make your silly face or goofy sound, and take a picture, in anticipation of his smiling response. Does it work? Well, I did manage to get a couple pictures of Ty smiling, and about 50 of him making no face at all. Then about another 50 where half his face is cut off because I wasn't able to pay attention to the aim of the camera.

    My last attempts had me snapping picture after picture and crossing my fingers that I'd get a good one. I think that all I've succeeded in doing is damaging my son's eyesight. No way should it be safe to look at a camera flash as much as he has.

    These cameras have a dial at the top of them where I can select if I want to take a photo, a movie, a scenic shot, and about 5 other settings that nobody ever uses. How hard would it be to add another setting where it is in constant auto-focus mode? Sure, it'll eat the batteries faster, but I'll be able to snap a pic the very moment I need to. I don't mind charging my batteries more often, if it means that I get more of the pictures that I want.

    So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to run to the patent office to tell them my idea of a camera that takes a picture when you press the button.


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    These photos are in Tyler's "September" gallery
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    Sorry for my absence. Blame it on work, Tyler, Sarah, and FOOTBALL! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, my beloved Wolverines came away, sloppily, with a win. In the NFL, I was sad to see my Lions and my Colts lose, but Tom Brady's SEASON ENDING injury made everything good again.

    Last night, I was watching the Packers game (props to Aaron Rodgers, by the way) and Sarah was giving Tyler his bath. Well, she's in there laughing her ass off, and calls me to come "look at Tyler".

    Tyler takes his bath in a tiny plastic tub. We set that tub inside our tub. I walked in the bathroom and looked. What I saw left me speechless. After a few moments of staring, slack-jawed, all I could muster up was, "I'm getting the camcorder". Instead of trying to come up with a creative way to explain it, just watch:

    Splish splash, Tyler's thrashin' in the bath,
    I recorded it on Monday night.
    Rub-a-dub, then he pisses in the tub,
    It's sterile, so I guess it's alright.

    He was a splishin' and a splashin', peeing to the ceiling, movin' and a groovin', gigglin' and a wigglin', yeah.

    This may all just be a matter of perspective, but I thought it was friggin' hilarious!

    Also, because I was trying out some new video editing software (Sony Vegas), here's two more - short - videos of Tyler crying.

    Tyler wants his paci, NOW:

    Tyler needs his nursies:

    I was robbed yesterday!

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    Tyler, 10# 2oz, at birth
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    Yesterday, I had to do a full hospital bed audit at one of my accounts in Indianapolis, Indiana. As such, I needed to go to every single department of said hospital. Among those departments were Labor & Delivery, Antepartum (pre-labor)
    and the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. ICU for babies).

    I also need you to know that I've got a not-so-great memory. I go through my entire blog every week or so and re-read the stories as if it were the first time. It's a blessing and a curse, I guess.

    So, I'm going room to room, knocking on doors, introducing myself and telling the patients why I'm there, and that I need to look at their bed for less than 2 seconds. EVERYBODY was 100% fine with it. I don't really like doing it, because I hate disrupting people, especially while they're at the hospital. It's my job, though, so I trudge along. Most rooms are non-eventful. People just lying around, reading, watching TV, talking on the phone, sleeping, or eating. Occasionally, though, there's activity going on. I love coming home and sharing some of these stories with Sarah. People share a lot of things when they don't receive a lot of visitors, ya know? Well, there are HIPAA regulations that forbid the sharing of certain information. Mainly names, social security numbers, and afflictions. Basically, I can't say names or anything else that would make someone say "I know exactly who you're talking about."

    In the labor & delivery rooms, I was accompanied by a nurse tech. The LAST thing I wanted to do was go in a room and see a woman, spread-eagle, with her legs up in stirrups. I only actually went in one room, and even then, I got what I needed just by peeking under the curtain, so I didn't even see the patient.

    In Antepartum (pre labor) I went in many rooms with extremely pregnant women. These are women that are, more or less, on bed rest. They were all very nice. I was in and out, so I didn't make any small-talk. This department was non-eventful as well.

    The NICU, on the other hand, really affected me. I've got just a couple things to share here. In one of the rooms, I knocked and introduced myself. There was a new father, a new mother, and a very new baby. I told them that I needed to look at their bed for about 2 seconds and then I'd leave them to their privacy. The father said, "Sure, no problem." He seemed like a younger guy, mid to late 20's. What caught me was that he was changing his baby's diaper. So, BOOM, I started reminiscing. The first diaper I've EVER changed was Tyler's diaper, at the hospital. It *appeared* that this may have been the first diaper this new father had ever changed. Don't get me wrong though, everything I saw took place in a span of 2, maybe 3, seconds. I remembered how I was treating Tyler as if he were a very expensive, very fragile piece of fine china. He was doing the same thing. I almost wanted to give him some pointers. I don't know what came over me... I would NEVER do something like that, but I really wanted to. He looked like he needed help!

    For me, luck was on my side. A very very sweet nurse had come in the room while I was trying to figure out the logistics of diaper changing. I mean, I've got two hands. I need to remove a diaper, hold his feet, wipe him, and put on a new diaper. Have I mentioned that I've only got two hands? I was looking around the room for some type of jig, or harness, to assist in diaper changing - some type of third or fourth hand - but there was nothing. I was holding one foot with one hand and pulling the diaper off with the other. Tyler kicked his free leg and landed his foot right in that thick, tarry mess. They call it meconium, instead of "thick, tarry, black mess" for reasons unknown to me. The nurse saw that I was struggling and bestowed upon me the most ingenious technique known to man. Hold both feet with one hand. BRILLIANT!!! Why I couldn't think of that myself, I don't know. Nerves, maybe. It was shortly after this that I realized that Tyler is not as delicate and fragile as I originally thought. His bones aren't going to snap if I grip his feet so that he can't kick away (seriously, I worried about that).

    I had to keep my mouth shut, though. It was not my place to try to explain all that to a total stranger. Maybe it would have been fine, but in my mind, it seems like an invasion of this man's privacy. He'll figure it out. We all have, right?

    I loved having that memory.

    Another thing that struck me, as I walked the NICU, was how lucky Sarah and I are to have had a healthy baby. Just about EVERY baby in the NICU was in what seemed like a plexiglass shell. Some had tubes and IVs hooked up to them, some were very, very underweight. A couple rooms couldn't be entered without "gowning up" (putting on a head cap, gown, gloves, and face mask). I'm looking at these babies, and these families, and my heart sinks. It just doesn't seem right that anybody should have to go through what these people were going through. I've read Mike and Heather's story, and it's very sad. VERY SAD. Being there, at the hospital, and seeing it. It hits you like a ton of bricks. Sarah and I had a tough labor. It was hard, painful, emotionally draining. We had to give up almost every bullet point on our birth plan due to unknown (at the time) circumstances. After the C-section, we had a healthy baby boy. Aside from a low blood sugar, he was perfect. His APGAR Score was a 9, for crying out loud. I mean, we were blessed, when it came down to it. I can't even begin to imagine the pain that these people were feeling in there.

    What has Tyler done to me??? Before Sarah was pregnant I never really processed that kind of stuff. I've been in NICUs before, no big deal. Sure, it was sad, but because I have to see this stuff every single day, I try to not let it affect me. Man, it affected me yesterday.

    Lastly, I need to get to the subject of this post. I was robbed. Saying that I was robbed "yesterday" is slightly misleading. Let me explain. Of all the babies I saw, none of them were as large as Tyler was at birth. Some were premature, sure, but some were born right on time. I feel like I've been robbed of having a tiny baby. Tyler was in the 95th percentile of birth weight, meaning that of 100 babies, 94 would be smaller than Tyler. I see people holding their new baby, tiny little things. We needed to use both arms to hold Tyler. How the heck did Sarah and I produce a 10+ pound baby?

    So, yeah... as blessed as we are to have a healthy baby, I can't help but feel that I've missed something in not having a "normal" sized baby.

    Nothing personal, pal. It's just business

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    He should do this more often
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    I fully admit, sometimes I can be rather irrational. I even toyed with naming my blog "Irrational Dad", and I may still do that. "Who's Your Daddy"... I may as well be named "John Smith" for the amount of originality in that title. I didn't come here today to discuss titles with you, though.

    Sarah was gone all day yesterday. Her sister is ill, blah blah blah. Read yesterday's post if you don't know the background. Well, Sarah called me around, I don't know, 6ish to tel me that they were heading to the hospital because her sis wasn't doing so well.

    Oh hey, look, a tangent. Mind if I jump on it? I love all of Sarah's sisters (3 of them) as if they are my own sisters. Heck, I consider them my own sisters. It breaks my heart that she's hurting, and I sincerely wish her the best. I'll be giving her a giant hug tomorrow.

    *jumps off the tangent*

    So, Sarah's at the hospital and will be on her way home soon. Fine by me, no problem, take your time.

    She got home around 8p or so. After giving Sarah her X's and O's, I scooped Tyler up to give him some lovins too. He responded by screaming.

    After a bit, I read him "The Alphabet Book", by Dr. Seuss, and "I Know an Old Lady". Tyler still had wide eyes, so I sang the alphabet song to him, forwards and backwards (yes, I am that good. Sarah asked how the heck I did that, the first time she heard me. I don't care if you can say the alphabet backwards, you have to sing it to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"), and then read him some farm book. I dressed him in his jammies, and carried him upstairs.

    I put Tyler in his crib and told him that I love him forever and ever... And he screamed. I gave him his paci and he calmed down and closed his eyes. Upon crossing my left foot over the threshold between his room and freedom... errr... I mean the hallway, he spit the paci out and screamed.

    He continued to scream at me while I held him, quietly shushing him and telling him it's time to make his night-nights come. He continued to scream while I walked with him, swayed him, and rocked him. That's about the time where I became "irrational dad". I started wondering why Tyler doesn't like me, if he'll ever learn to love me, and what I did to make him feel that way towards me. I can't be the only person to have ever felt that. At least, I hope I'm not the only one.

    The logical part of me (94%, according to some bloodwork I got back in March) tells me that I'm being, well, irrational. I know that he's used to being put to bed by Sarah. I know that he prefers to fall asleep at the boob, although we *try* to discourage that. BUT... Irrational dad is screaming at me, telling me I'm a horrible father, and he's quite convincing.

    Tyler finally fell asleep, so I put him in his crib. I headed downstairs so that Sarah and I could watch a couple episodes of Dexter (awesome, albeit a little dark, show. We're halfway thru season 1). About 10 minutes in, something caught my eye. I looked over towards the coffee table to see what moved. Nothing. Must've been my imagination. But, wait, I see it again! The arch of lights on the baby monitor flickered. Just the first light. I watched the monitor with suspenseful anticipation, as if it was going to sprout legs and start dancing any moment now.

    "Please Lord, let it just be a fart."

    As if on cue, all 6 lights sprang to life. The flickering lights, a perfect visual compliment to the cries that seemed to be originating from the upper level. Watson, my dear friend, I do believe that our guest has awakened. The word that formed across my lips starts with an "s" and rhymes with "hit". On I trudged my way up the stairs, I mumbled something about my son hating me.

    I put my hand on Tyler's chest. After telling him he was safe and that his mommy and daddy were still here, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

    About 10 minutes later, something caught my eye. A glimmer of red light. Do you see where this is going? Sarah said she'd go up. A few minutes later, she brought him downstairs and put him to the boob. He ate very lazily, then fell asleep.

    FOR 7 HOURS. Is it considered bad form to call one's own son a jerk? I'm pretty sure he did that on purpose, just to spite me.

    Lying around

    Tyler, doin' his thing
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    I planned on downloading pictures off the camera today and getting them online. That will, apparently, not be happening. Sarah's sister is dealing with some health concerns, so Sarah and Tyler went up to visit and provide some love and support. Don't worry, folks, she'll be fine. She's just in a lot of pain. I say "just" as if it's no big deal, and I don't intend for that. She hurts, but she's not dying. Anyway, Sarah has the camera, so no pictures for you.

    The lack of a camera motivated me to load up the videos that are in the "Videos - Raw" folder of my computer, edit them, and re-save them in the "Videos" folder. A few days ago, Sarah took a vid of Tyler lying around and doing, well.... nothing really. It's 4 minutes long, and there's nothing really going on, but feel free to watch it if you've got some time to kill. I'm telling you though, he's just lying around. It's not nearly as exciting as Chris chasing battling geese or anything like that. I have also just realized that I'm not entirely sure when to use "lie", "lay", "laying", or "lying", as in "He's laying down" or "He's lying down". I found this online, but my brain is in lazy mode today, so I've bookmarked it for later use. I hate misspelling words, and I hate using the wrong words (they're, their, there - your, you're - to, too, two), so I'll get it figured out.

    I also spent some time getting the colors on my YouTube channel to match up with my BlogSpot, MySpace, and Twitter. I haven't delved into SmugMug yet, because I'd actually have to upgrade my account ($$) to be given the ability to customize it. Facebook doesn't allow that kind of stuff, so I've done just about all I can do to make my network mesh.

    We now have a freezer in the garage. It's bittersweet, really. See... I was really looking forward to building the automatic-thermostat-heater thing. I was slightly disheartened when I saw that I wasn't the first person to come up with the idea. It was made worse when I went to Sears (I know) and found a Kenmore for $179 that can be used in "unheated spaces". I bought it and felt a little empty on the inside. I really wanted to build that thing. I've been trying to think of another application it would work for, so that I can build it anyway.

    Lastly, I'd like to create an "About Me" page here at Blogspot/Blogger, but can't figure out how? Anyone here know how? My thought would be to just create a new post and link to that. I'm fine with that, but I'd like it to NOT show up on my listing of blog posts. Ugh... nvm

    The Deep Freeze

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    A family-self-portrait
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    Sarah desperately wants a deep freezer. It turns out that (breast) milk takes up quite a bit of space in a freezer. We've got a side-by-side fridge. I honestly couldn't tell you if freezers are bigger in those or the ones where the freezer is on top. I can tell you that our freezer *seems* a heck-of-a-lot smaller. It's at the point where we are both scared to open our freezer, for fear that we may be buried in a heap of frozen milk bags.

    She used to drop subtle hints about us needing a deep freezer (chest freezer). Now, she's becoming more - uhhh - clear on her desires for one.

    Before Tyler was born, she would say, "I hope the freezer is big enough to store a bunch of milk."

    I would respond with, "Oh yeah... Plenty of room."

    Then it became, "The freezer's filling up with milk. We're gonna have to figure something out, sometime."

    A couple days ago, I said, "Yay! Fable II is coming out soon for the Xbox360."

    She responded with, "We need a freezer."

    Today, Sarah called me to say "good morning". I was driving down to Indianapolis for business. I drove by something that caught my eye.

    "It probably won't be a long day today, because my sales rep has my power tools. I'll have to hook up with him on Wednesd-oooooooooooooooo."

    Sarah said, "What? What's going on?"

    Completely, 100% joking, I said, "Oh, I just saw a dune buggy for sale, but there was no price on it."

    "No. We need a freezer."

    Subtle? No. Tactful? Nope. My fault? Likely. After all, I've told Sarah that, because I am a member of the male populous, and because my primary fuel is testosterone, hints and sublety do not compute. If you want something, just say it. I guess that's what she's doing, eh? Or maybe she is *somehow* hinting that she wants a new pair of shoes. Women make no sense to me.

    There's no room for a freezer in our kitchen. The basement leaks like a sieve, so it can't go down there, due to the likelihood of flooding when it rains. This leaves the garage.

    Allow me to clarify. This leaves our uninsulated garage. Our too-hot-in-the-summer, too-cold-in-the-winter garage. I worried, because I figured that the hot weather would wreak havok on a freezer. It would appear, thank you very much to Google, that COLD weather is what's bad. When it gets very cold, the compressor can't start, but it still tries to. Also, the oil collects at the bottom and gets very thick, and thus, doesn't circulate well at all. As a result, the starter and/or compressor tend to burn up and require replacement. A lot.

    I could just get a freezer that is designed for unheated spaces. They only cost an additional $1,500. 2 things immediately come to mind, which leads to a 3rd thought:

    1) They exist
    2) We're not getting one, because they cost too much

    Which leads to

    3) I bet I can modify one of the cheap $200 models to work in my garage.

    After a little more googling/brainstorming, here's what I'm thinking. If the main concern is the compressor getting too cold, I need some type of automated timer with a heater. I can get something called a foil-coil or drain trough heater. I can wrap that around the compressor. To automate it, I can get a defrost module/thermostat from an appliance repair shop. I'll set it for 40º - 50º fahrenheit (minimal operating temperature), and place the actual thermostat on the compressor.

    The theory is this. During the winter, if the metal on the compressor drops below 40º, the defrost module kicks the foil-coil on and keeps the compressor above it's minimal operating temperature.

    Wiring will be a little tricky. I don't want the compressor trying to start while the foil-coil is running. Basically, when the thermostat hits 40º, I need to divert the 110vAC away from the starter/compressor and to the foil-coil. A relay should take care of that. Then when the thermostat senses that we're back up to operating temperature, it'll kick off and send power back to the starter to fire up the compressor. EDIT: This is exactly what I'm talking about!!!

    Am I missing anything here, aside from the obvious danger of burning down my garage? Sarah would be fine with the risks involved. To Sarah, her need for a freezer outranks my need for a garage. I can see it now.

    Scene: It's a cold winter afternoon. Fade to the kitchen. Joe is looking out the window. The room is illuminated with dancing orange and yellow lights. A firetruck siren screams in the backgound. A single tear escapes and begins its journey down a face that is devoid of all color.

    "Sarah, the freezer caught fire and burned down the garage. Everything's gone."

    The tear hangs precariously from his jaw, threatening to break free of its hold. A slideshow of images flash across Joe's mind. A bike, a car, tools, old photos, his son's red wagon. His heart feels heavier and heavier. As the images continue to splash his memory, the tear falls. He shifts his gaze to Sarah. She returns his stare. Joe can see, with only a fleeting moment of relief, that his despair is echoed in her.

    She says, slowly and quietly, "Is the milk ok?"

    Fade to black.... aaaaannnnnd end scene.