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    If you are able to swim through... the Ring of Fire!

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    I went back and forth trying to title this post. The runner up was "Sharkbait OO HA HA", but then I realized that both titles would fall on deaf ears if you've never seen "Finding Nemo" half a dozen times or so.

    On the off chance that you haven't seen nor heard of the movie - and, if you're a parent and haven't seen that movie, then shame on you - it's about a fish. How's that for giving away the entire storyline?

    Tyler is taking swimming lessons at the YMCA. Sarah signed him up a few weeks ago. The classes are once a week for about 30 minutes, and go for 12 weeks (if I remember correctly). Tyler just turned 7 months old, so we don't really expect him to understand us when we say "kick your feet! kick your feet!", or try to get him to climb up the ledge of the pool (really, the instructor told Sarah to try to get him to climb up there, even though he can barely crawl). But, it's a good activity for him, and you can't go wrong introducing somebody to swimming and water.

    I can't swim. When I was young - I don't know how old exactly, but I was young - and I was at the beach with my dad, he decided he was going to teach me to swim. He had his hands under my body while I tried getting accustomed to the water. I said, very specifically, "Don't let go", to which he responded that he wouldn't. Mere seconds later, he removed his hands and I panicked. Because of that experience, I've had a very real fear of water since then. That's not to say that I couldn't take baths or get on a boat. I just couldn't put my body into any water that didn't allow my feet to touch the dirt while my head was still above water. Even in that shallow water, I couldn't do anything other than stand straight up. If we were playing frisbee and it went left or right of me, I could NOT dive for it. I've come leaps and bounds in the last few years. I've actually gone tubing, water-skiing, and "swimming", but only with the aid of a life jacket. And I've somehow managed to not loose my mind when I get thrown from the tube, or get a water enema from skiing.

    So, I think it's great that Tyler is getting exposed to water and swimming so early in life. When Summer rolls around, and we go to the lake with our friends, or to the local pool as a family, Tyler will be a year old and will hopefully take to the water much more easily than I did.

    I've only been to one of Tyler's classes. Sarah told me that in his first class, he didn't appear to be comfortable in the water, but that he still did pretty well. From then on, though, he loved it. I went with them this previous Wednesday to check it out for Tyler's third class. I had a feeling that cameras were probably not allowed in there, so I just brought it in without asking. Better to ask forgiveness, than permission, right?

    I can not believe how much Tyler enjoyed being in the pool. He was splashing and kicking, and lunging his body all over the place. Sarah had difficulty time holding him a few times. I'm still learning how some of the settings on my camera work, so bear with me on some of these shots.

    Tyler loves splashing his arms in the water.
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    He was even pretty comfortable on his back. I really didn't know what they were trying to accomplish, though. The instructor told them what to do, but I was completely focused on taking pictures. I'm pretty sure they were working on kicking their feet.
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    They were definitely working on foot kicking here. Tyler did really well, but we knew he would, because he does that in the bathtub too.
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    On his belly, Tyler did a great job of holding his head up while kicking and waving his arms. It'll be awhile before we let go of him, but he's definitely understanding the concept. Either that, or he just loves to splash the water. I'd like to say that it's the former, but I've got a hunch that it's the latter.
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    Time to towel off and hit the showers. I can only guess how much chlorinated water Tyler swallowed over the last 25 minutes.
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    Once we got home, Delilah gave Tyler some "good job" kisses after we told her how great Tyler did in the pool.
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    Tyler had his first Oreo cookie last week. I would prefer that he not be given "grown up" foods yet, as he's only 7 months old, but it's a type of tradition with Sarah's family. When the first tooth comes in, and baby can sit up on his own, he's ready for his first cookie. I've learned the art of "choosing your battles", so I just grabbed the camera, knowing there would be some gems in there. If you would like to browse all of the Oreo pictures, they start here. For those of you that don't want to look at picture after picture after picture, here are a couple highlights.

    The first step is to give the baby a cookie, and then get very far away.
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    At first, I thought it would go relatively well. I found myself wondering why Sarah took all his clothes off, and had him in only a diaper.
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    It almost looked as if he wanted to see what he looked like with a mustache.
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    It was when Tyler started drooling that I started getting grossed out. He had dark brown drool flowing down his chin, neck, chest, and stomach.
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    Tyler's chubby hands were equally filthy.
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    Yeah, all down his chest and belly.
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    Tyler seemed to thoroughly enjoy this new, sugary food.
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    Sarah tried volunteering me for bathtime. I told her she was out of mind, because the Oreo fiasco was not my idea. As a last ditch attempt, she said that it wasn't hers either. I told her it was HER family's tradition, not mine. She realized I wasn't going to budge, and grabbed the filthy baby.
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    Luckily for everyone involved, Tyler cleans up nicely.
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    I'm not going to detail all of the events that have taken place over the last few weeks. Suffice it to say, we've been busy since around December 23rd.

    Last Sunday through Wednesday, I was in Phoenix, Arizona. Due to the nature of my work, I only see my co-workers about 3 or 4 times a year, so these meetings are a great time to catch up, and re-energize for another year of lonesome work. Sadly, Tyler was already in bed when I got home. Allison (Sarah's sister) came to visit on Thursday. Later that evening, we were joined by Jillian (another of Sarah's sisters) and her almost-2-year-old daughter, Lexi.

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    Friday was a very long, and very unlucky day for me. My workday ended up being about 3 hours longer than I had planned for. When I finished up, I walked my tools to my workvan. I drive a minivan, and the rear door opens "up" like a hatchback. Due to the ice that was all over the van, the door didn't raise all the way up. So, when I leaned in, I cracked my forehead on the door. After mumbling a few words, I lifted the door up and leaned in again. The door had, lucky me, drifted down, causing me to crack my forehead again. In the exact same spot. I was furious at this point. I shoved the door, grabbed my tool box, and swung it up to load it into my van. It turns out that I didn't fully latch the tool box closed. Wrenches and screwdrivers went flying all over the parking garage, mostly under other cars. Have I mentioned, yet, that it was -17ยบ Fahrenheit outside?

    Not having any co-workers nearby to vent to, I called Sarah. She told me that UPS dropped a box off on the porch. Now, I get deliveries 3 or 4 days a week for work, but those come via FedEx. I've only been expecting one package from UPS. The flood waters of bad luck must be receeding, because that package contains my shiny new camera and lens. The drive home that evening suddenly became much brighter.

    While the battery charged, I read the entire user's guide on how to attach the lens, set the aperture, and change the shutter speed. I fell in love the moment I pressed the shutter for the first time.

    Then I dropped the camera! I was sitting in the kitchen with Sarah and her sisters and... Well, I don't know. I just dropped it. Knowing I wouldn't be quick enough to catch it, I stuck my foot out, hoping to break its fall. It worked, thankfully. The camera hit my foot, and rolled to the floor. On Sarah's advice, I promptly added the neck strap, and watched as they all played Clue.

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    Then I dropped the camera again! I was gesturing with my hands while telling a story, and slapped the camera right off the table. There were no fall-breaking interventions this time. The camera crashed to the floor. I wasn't worried though, because I've read countless reviews about this particular model. Many people have told stories of dropping their cameras on concrete and having them suffer little more than a scratch. What level of damage could a peel-and-stick linoleum floor do? I've got the answer to that question, and it's "a LOT". Linoleum must be some sort of camera kryptonite, because the LCD screen was shattered. *sigh*

    Side note: I mean, come on. If you watch football, you've seen some of the hits that photographers, and their cameras, take when a wide receiver crashes into them after being forced out of bounds. How could I have thought that my camera would be destroyed from a tumble off a table, when I watch them collide with 300-pound monsters, with no apparent ill-effects? It's just not fair.

    I'm not going to tell the story of how I now have a replacement, because I feel guilty for my deceptions. All I'll admit to is that the phrase "shipping damage" may have been mentioned. Don't look at me like that!! Let he who has not sinned blah blah blah.

    Friday was a very unlucky day indeed.

    I have not dropped my "new" new camera yet - knock on wood- and am absolutely in love with it.

    The rest of the weekend was about as crazy as you could imagine it to be with a 2 year old who doesn't like taking naps and doesn't like not getting what she wants.

    Sarah made the comment that, much like yawning, crying appears to be contagious between kids.

    My only hope for the next 3 to 7 days is a return to normalcy. Well, I guess I'm also hoping that I can fight away the cold that my body is trying to catch. I think I may actually be winning this battle.
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    Don't let this face deceive you. Evil lurks beneath

    I Got a New Toy

    A Canon Digital Rebel XS camera, to be exact... Three pictures per second is both a blessing and a curse. I'm pretty much guaranteed to get the perfect shot now, but it's usually bracketed with 5 or 6 other pictures that I have to delete. For example, I took 99 pictures of Tyler's bathtime today, and ended up with 33 keepers.

    It's a small price to pay to end up with pictures like these though:
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    Six Months... Already?

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    Tyler's first faux-hawk
    Tyler recently celebrated his half birthday. Upon being asked by any passers-by how old he is, Tyler can now say, "Zero and a half" with the air of excitement that kids have when they know they've crested the mountain, and are now barreling downhill towards cake and presents. His first birthday is still 6 months out, and Sarah is already making plans for it.

    Tyler's half birthday had me in awe of the fact that I've been a dad for 6 months. And then, I thought to myself, "already?"

    It really feels like it's only been a month. He's already 6 months old. That's way too close to 18 years old. I'm not ready for him to move out yet.

    Is time going to continue to move this fast from here on out?

    Tyler had his well-baby checkup last week. The nurse asked the typical questions about his diet and his poop. She asked if he's been sick. We told her that he's had two colds that he caught from his cousin. She followed up with a question that appeared to be more of an assumption and statement.

    "And he was treated by Dr. Woods?"

    I paused for a second, and found myself unable to answer. Who goes to the doctor for a cold? I couldn't wrap my mind around that. It was a cold; a simple, let-it-run-its-course-because-there's-no-other-course-of-action cold.

    Me: "Uhh, yeah doc. Tyler has a cold. You know, a cough, sniffles, and mucous."
    Doc: "Okayyyy."
    Me: "So, what can you do about it?"
    Doc: "Nothing. Leave your $25 copay with the receptionist."

    Sarah bailed me out and told her that we took care of it from home, by ourselves. I mentally appended her sentence with, "because we're not completely brain dead."

    The appointment went well. Recently, I mistakenly told someone that Tyler is 25 pounds. He is, in fact, only 23 pounds. He measured at 72cm. He is still in the 95th to 97th percentile for height and weight (read: tall and heavy).

    "Wow Tyler. That makes you," I said, pausing for a moment, "28 and a quarter inches long."

    The nurse turned to look at me. She had a look of utter confusion on her face when she said "that's right". She didn't see that I had just punched some numbers into the calculator function of my phone. Either that, or she didn't expect me to know that there are 2.54cm/in. Maybe that isn't common knowledge.

    The doc commented on how adorable Tyler's chubby thighs were. Then, she put a glove on and said, "ok, it's time to count to two."

    Confused and intrigued, I leaned in a little closer to see what was going on. It makes sense to me in hindsight, but it never occurred to me that they would need to verify that Tyler has two testicles. I find myself hoping that Tyler develops a crush for her when he gets older, so I will have yet another bullet to fire at him from my "embarrassment gun".

    We did have one concern that we wanted to discuss with the doctor. Tyler, for the last couple months, has had some red bumps around his left eye. Some days, they're more pronounced than others. After looking at them, doc said that Tyler has eczema. We followed her instructions of carefully applying hydrocortisone (1%) to the area, and keeping fragrance-free lotion on his face. It started looking much better within a couple hours. A few days later, it's completely gone. Sarah and I cursed our collective ignorance. We had no idea it was that important to keep baby's skin moist. I really hope it didn't itch too much, or cause excessive discomfort to Tyler.

    On an unrelated note, it appears that Sarah and I may have cursed Tyler with our sleeping habits. We cannot sleep on our backs. Sarah often sleeps on her side, and I on my belly.

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    How or why Tyler felt the need to turn a 180, and put his head where his feet should be is beyond me.