Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Metabolic metaphors and lighted lifelines

On the way to my folks for Christmas, we finished listening to a new short story by Stephen King titled The Stationary Bike. Say what you will about Stephen King and the scary stories he tells, but this story fascinated me. (No genre-slamming-finger-wagging, please. I think he's one of the greatest storytellers living; a lit professor I had in college told me that the closet Mr. King ever got to true "literature" was The Stand, which I loved back in the day, whatever the heck that means – literature and back in the day).

The "Stationary Bike" is about an illustrator who is told by his doctor that he needs to exercise, lose weight and bring his cholesterol down. The doctor gives the main character, Richard Sefkitz, a metaphor for his aging metabolism: an older road crew of blue collar guys in chinos and t-shirts, arms inked in vivid tattoos, hard hats and orange vests. They worked overtime for little pay, ate like crap and were tired all the time. They needed better care.

So he buys a stationary bike, sets it up in the basement of his building, and paints an outdoor mural on the wall in front of the bike to "pretend" he was biking though the woods. As you can imagine in a Stephen King story, the metabolic metaphor takes on a live of its own; blood-pumping obsessions with art imitating life and exercise and the fear of impending doom – one's inevitable mortality.

The moral: don't forget the presence of the moment and give and take everything within reason while giving and taking care of yourself.

What the hell does this have to do with parenting and being a daddy? Be responsible for your metabolic metaphors. You're family will thank you for it. I'm 43 and run at least 50+ miles every month – but I cannot eat like I'm 23 anymore (although I was certainly a fatty in my mid-twenties – neurotic stress and strain and 80 pounds heavier – oh the forgotten glory days of high school football). I'm also a writer who knows what it's like to lose oneself in a fictional crowd. You've always got to keep yourself tethered to the nearest lamppost.

According to

  1. Approximately 62 percent of female Americans are considered overweight.

  2. Approximately 67 percent of male Americans are considered overweight.

  3. An estimated 400,000 deaths per year may be attributable to poor diet and low physical activity.

Holy crap. Really? And 15 percent of children and adolescents are overweight and 30.5 percent are obese. No way that's gonna happen with me and my little honey Bea.

But, that leads me to the holiday cheer I'm wearing like a soaked braided belt from the 70s and the sugar plum dream of getting my annual daddy jogging stroller run off the ground. It'll be all about healthy living and loving, that's for sure, wherever the moneys raised go.

And what better role models for daddies to be than through healthy living and loving.

Now, to get it off the ground with lighted lifelines…Pooh thinked harder than he had ever thunked before.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby B and the first family winter solstice sick

Nothing says family love like catching a simultaneous cold on the winter solstice and then sharing it throughout the Christmas holiday. We're finally feeling better today!

And it was baby's first cold. Should I have saved some of the snot? Is that what new parents do? Have it encased in a clear plastic cube? We sucked enough of it out of her nose with one of those bulbous suction squeeze scoobies, that's for sure.

Oh, but it was so hard to watch the baby wail because she's got aches and a snotty nose. We gave her a smidge of baby Tylenol, but otherwise had to ride it out this week. Not much you can give a newborn other than love and comfort.

I'll tell you, it's a much different cry than the hungry cry, or the tired cry, or the gassy cry – the Dunstan method was interesting, but we didn't really need to spend the $35. We figured them all out on our own. I have to believe that most mindful parents do.

As adults without children, we knew that good hygiene is key to preventing little bugger bugs. I never even imagined what was in store for us handing Bea around the room to show off like a fine piece of alien crystal – that soaks up everything it comes in contact with.

Including bugger bugs. And she's years away from starting school and sharing arm-nose wipes with other kids. According to a page I found on

"Kids bear the brunt of seasonal illnesses, typically picking up six to 10 colds a year compared with the two to four colds adults get, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Centers for Disease Control chalks up 22 million school absences each year to colds alone. The good news is that kids can greatly reduce their risk of getting or spreading a cold with healthy habits and good hygiene."

Six to 10 colds per year? Crap. That's going to be a lot of shared family sick.

It's all about the love, so get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat right (forget it this week), drink lots of water, and wash those hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds, or long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

Great tip. I barely get the first "Ha" out during my hand washings.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby B and burp rags – so out it rolls

One of staff at work bought us the sweetest burp rag that reads:

I coo.

I poo.

That's all I do.

Used to think that's all I did until I met my little Baby B. What an amazing creature she is. I've already worked through the whole sugar-and-spice myth, but now there is drool everywhere. I mean everywhere.

There's an old SNL skit with Michael Palin hosting that tells "the horrible, disgusting, tragic story of poor Miles Cowperthwaite who had the nerve-wracking job of emptying drool buckets from an epileptic."

One of those comedy bits that stays with you. Of course, baby drool doesn't really fill up drool buckets, just soaks a burp rag or three. According to Drool 101 at, "Some babies just don't know what to do with their spit, so out it rolls."

Wow. Words from an M.D. So out it rolls.

I kept asking Mama A if maybe Bea's teething early, but that usually doesn't happen until six months and beyond.

Christmas drool for everyone! I'll have mine with a little brandy, please.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Daddy K keeps the music alive – pa rum pum pum pum

"And the three men I admire most,

The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost,

They caught the last train for the coast,

The day the music died."

--Don McLean, American Pie

My brain is made up of jingles, ditties, drumming rudiments, witty aphorisms and simple nutty sayings; if I didn't keep the upbeat musicality of the bouncing red ball, I'd have a whole lot of nothing. Much of that comes from my lovably crazy dad, and I do hope to pass that along to Beatrice (much to her future chagrin).

There have been more than a handful of times when the music died, however, filling the silent void with cynicism, anger and resentment. I've seen too many good folk, me included, decide that life just isn't giving them a break, that God isn't listening, particularly during the holidays and during a rough year for many folks in the heartland and around the world.

God is listening – listening for us to make the choices that make us sparks of divinity and universal intervention; listening for us to make the differences in our world.

I was raised a Christian and no matter the iteration of my faith today, I embrace all that is Christmas – the hope, the love and the rebirth of choice. (And my favorite Jesus is the little baby Christmas Jesus.) One of my favorite childhood Christmas shows was The Little Drummer Boy, the story of a poor boy who had no gift to give baby Jesus except for his drum playing. The greatest gifts are those of passion and conviction that come from the healthy heart – inhale, a metaphor for the love and acceptance I never got from my biological father, and exhale, the strength of unconditional forgiveness I have yet to fully give.

I played my drum for him, pa rum pum pum pum

I played my best for him, pa rum pum pum pum,

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum…

I've become more of a deist of late, one who believes that God gave us the instruments to keep the music alive, to beat the healing heartmeld drums of ourselves and others.

My cousin Dori wrote a wonderful post about being active and present in the world in order to make it a better place, to focus more on loving and less on spending. As new parents (and even before the little honey Bea) we are active and present and focus on loving to keep the music alive. If each family that has enough gives a little to families that don't, this world would be such an amazing place and we could truly celebrate the miracle of Christmas every day. I believe it already is and the bad news media doesn't convince me otherwise.

Christmas is a choice. Choices are miracles that fill cold winter skies with well-lit hope. Celebrate the miracle of yours and rock the house.

Then he smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baby B, the bottle and the bouncing red ball

I'm a bumbling buffoon when it comes to feeding Bea from the bottle. Either I startle her too much before I can even get the nipple to her lips and she screams as though I've just given her a vaccination (did that on the 2-month mark and man did she wail), or I just don't have enough of the mommy caress finesse to get her latched (which I don't).

Mama started pumping earlier than our midwife wanted her to, but it takes time to get baby on the bottle no matter when you start. My daddy pals at DadLabs gave me some good recommendations about finding the right bottle/nipple combo, and all of Amy's baby reading and friend and family advice.

I have had some success, however, and we'll keep working hard on it since we're close to Mama going back to work. And thankfully we think we found the right nanny with lots of baby raising experience, including bottle feeding, which will make the initial transition a little easier.

I hope. Keep your fingers crossed.

We're also coming up on the big 3-month milestone and Bea is an active little bugaboo. She's hitting all her milestones so far and that makes us very happy parents! As a busy new working daddy I try to be mindful and stay in the moment with my baby, but man I get freaked out sometimes that I'm missing something, anything – real big.

Keeping up with the red bouncing ball that hits our lifetime keywords like a xylophone on speed isn't easy.

And those keywords are crucial when baby is learning language. Mama and my Caveman's Guide to Baby's First Year continue to educate this buffoon:

  1. Talk to the little bugaboo about anything and everything (no cursing).

  2. Tell the baby stores; read to her (that's an easy one for us).

  3. Lots of music and singing (Daddy K, meet Baby Einstein).

  4. Exposing her to other people and places (that's also an easy one for Mr. and Mrs. Social Butterfly).

  5. Play with toys that help baby understand shapes and space (doing that more and more).

Check. Now when can I start her on drum lessons (so I can start too)?

Monday, December 8, 2008

What’s the difference between finding a gopher in your yard and finding childcare for your 3-month old?

You can't drown the nanny-manny-fee-fi-fo-fanny if you don't like her/him. (That's going to get some complaints.)

Argh – first of all after two years of living in our house and making the back yard our own with blood, sweat and tears, we have a gopher. And although I know there are many different options available when it comes to taking care of the little varmints, I really can't resort to shaping C-4 explosives into friendly little park animals. I did try to run the hose into the hole and let loose the water, but that didn't do anything except create a swimming pool.

At least the little bugger is keeping the trench right along the edge of the grass and the patio. Rodentia Symmetrica. Nice.

But that's the least of our worries right now. Right now we're looking for childcare before my wife goes back to work in January. We thought we had a franny lined up (friend-like nanny), but that's falling apart now faster than the global economy.

So, we're looking at in-house infant care, nannies, local infant daycare, robot care, virtual reality daycare and even a potential family option.

But what to do? There are political ramifications with the family option, but there are so many other unknowns with the other options using services like, or calling listings off of Craigslist, or checking with our friends local networks/churches. We've got so many calls to make and interviews to schedule and waiting lists to wait on and gopher mounds to sit on. (Schizoids and freaks, we do check references.)

What to do? We're scrambling now; the hose is on full blast.

Queue the music…

"I'm all right, don't nobody worry about me…"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Daddy K’s thankful for the leftovers. Very thankful.

Sorry I've been away, but life just doesn't wait for anyone. We're busy raising Baby B and recovering from a wonderful Thanksgiving (although Bea has been a little more fussy the past few nights from reentering the atmosphere – all done with everyone except Mama ).

First my folks came to visit us before Thanksgiving. Then on the way to Mama A's family for Thanksgiving, we stopped by my Auntie M's house to visit with her and her family; we haven't seen them for years and it was a pleasure. Beatrice was pretty fussy from the first leg of our trip (because I couldn't wait to pee and Beatrice woke from her travel nap – got me in trouble both ways).

Then we had to go over the High Sierras during the last leg of the trip which was very difficult for Bea and Mama. There's really not a lot for a daddy to do when baby and mama are screaming and crying. Oy vey.

We survived thankfully. Amy's family cooked up a T-day storm and I must've gained 80 pounds in two days. Ugh. Bea held up okay until the night after Thanksgiving when there was a projectile vomiting incident; too many foods in Mama's milk. More screaming and crying.

We experienced a Yahtzee revival, though! My sister and I used to play it all the time with my grandparents and it was so much fun playing it again. So much fun in fact that I downloaded the app to my iPhone. Sweet.

The trip home was much easier and after we unpacked we dove into a final batch of Thanksgiving leftovers. Yum city.

I'm thankful for leftovers. I've always been thankful for leftovers. And unless it was something I really didn't like the first time, which wasn't much, I always ate most of the leftovers.

Since I was a child, leftovers meant abundance; we never went hungry and my sister and I never thought of ourselves as poor.

But we were.

Not destitute like many who suffered in the Great Depression, like those interviewed by Studs Terkel in his special collection of stories from his Hard Times radio series (I recently listened to some of them on This American Life). Not poverty-stricken like many from third world countries of yesteryear and today. Not completely broke like the thousands of families who have lost their jobs and homes this year.

But we were poor – and we always had leftovers. My mother knew how to stretch a dollar, even when my alcoholic deadbeat dad didn't and the relentless recession stagflation of the 70s made it even tougher. She knew how to create culinary delights whether it was holiday faire, or probably one of my favorite childhood meals of all time: ground beef gravy over mashed potatoes with whole kernel corn on the side and bread and butter. And a glass of cold milk to wash it all down.

We never went hungry and we never went without Christmas gifts. Every Christmas Mom busted her butt to get as many of the gifts on our list as possible.

So whether you donate a little food to Feeding America (Second Harvest Food Bank) like we do, or volunteer to help feed the homeless, or donate toys to Toys for Tots (which we pledge to do this year) or the Make-A-Wish Foundation, give a little bit this year to others.

Don't be a deadbeat dad, daddies, even when we're all belt tightening. Be good to your families and to those less fortunate. Every little bit helps.

God bless us all and Merry Christmas. Now, if I can get Mama A to fix me the ground beef gravy and mashed potato delight…

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby B goes for a jog

I try to run anywhere from 12-15 miles per week. That's a lot for this old man Daddy K. I've even improved my average mile time to almost 9 minutes, down from over 10-minute miles a year ago.

But nothing prepared me for today's first: taking Bea for a jog in our fancy schmancy Baby Trend Expedition LX Jogging Stroller. Certainly not the top of the line, but still a sweet ride nonetheless.

Totally different ballgame pushing the jogging stroller with a baby in it while jogging. We've walked a lot with it, but this is the first time I ran with it. One thing I learned very quickly was to keep one arm free to swing naturally as you'd do running usually, and just rotate each arm every so often. That made the ensuing miles much more palatable jogging the rich rocking tunes of Rush, Genesis, Ted Nugent, Foghat, Van Halen, The Cult and many more newer kids as well – love my iPod random shuffle. (Bea will grow up knowing what it means to rock.)

Baby B was find 'cause she just enjoyed the ride the whole time – predominantly napping. I had my fanny pack strapped to my belly with cell phone for those just-in-case moments, which there were none. I made it over 4 miles, but mercy was that a trek. Great workout, though.

I'm thinking of starting a fun 5K and 10K Get Off the Ground running/fundraising event for daddies with babies and jogging strollers.

Where should the proceeds go? The Make-A-Wish Foundation? The March of Dimes? The America Red Cross? Youth fitness and sports?

What do you think?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Daddy K says think about the kids; finance an AIDS clinic, or a youth center, or GM

Earlier this week I was working out in the family home gym (garage), half-listening to the Today Show talk about the business of high-end prostitution (got the title though, didn't I).

What bothered me wasn't the fact the global sex industry could help refinance the current worldwide financial meltdown more than once – which is ironic considering many financial institutions and corporations quietly invest in adult entertainment and high-end prostitution. No, this isn't an evangelical morality post about the evils of sex and porn and the fear of legalizing prostitution unraveling the moral fabric of our spiritual centers, but it is a post about personal responsibility. And that's my spiritual center.

I belong to the church of pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps and the holy personal-responsibility redeemer. So when I heard the reporter talk about how in a world gone bell up financially, men in power (and I'm sure some women as well) continue to finance prostitution, making it boom during a bust.

Because it makes them feel better about themselves – for lighting piles of money on fire. Our money.

It makes them feel better about themselves. Really. I've done a lot of borderline things over the years to make myself feel better about me – I ain't no angel – but that was mostly prior to being married (again) and prior to having a daughter, the game-changer.

According to an informal survey conducted by an Internet site for men who hire escorts found that 49 percent are married, 40 percent have an income of more than $100,000 and 38 percent hold a graduate degree.

Forty-nine percent are married. How many of those do you think has children? And how many of those are girls?

Again, I don't have a problem with sex and I'm not naïve when it comes to the big business of adult entertainment. I just don't understand how married men in power who have children can rationalize that spending $25,000 for a weekend with a beautiful woman for sex and fake romance will make the boo-boos go away.

Put a frickin' band-aid on it and donate to an AIDS clinic, or a youth center, or GM. Keep Saturn alive for God's sake. We're a Saturn family that buys stuff and loads up the VUE, helping the economy when we can.

Seriously, there are many other positive ways to make yourself feel better while making a difference in the lives around you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Daddy K revels in the family traveler experience

Last night we went to see a friend and colleague give a presentation about his newly published book Route 66 Railway at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas. This has definitely been a labor of love for him – a culmination of years of travel, stellar photography and insightful writing – and anyone who loves the railroad, old west, Route 66 and any combination of the three should buy the book.

We had the opportunity to take our own road trip through the southwest back in May of 2007. We drove along historic Route 66 via Seligman, AZ, and stopped at the infamous Sno Cap Drive-in and Angel Delgadillo's old barbershop and now gift store run by his family. This is one of many stops along Route 66 featured in my friend's book. Angel was such a gracious man and was thrilled to hear that Elrond's book would someday be a reality. He even showed me the picture Elrond (the author/photographer) took of him the summer before. Good times!

During the Q&A following the book presentation last night, I asked Elrond out of all the ghosts of old Americana he came across during his photography travels, what were the most haunting.

What he said hit home with me. "Well, I would say that too many people today focus on their destinations, and not on the traveler experience. Everything in between is forgotten."

I'm paraphrasing a bit, but it was something like that. I couldn't agree more. His family joined him, his daughter in particular, on many of his adventures throughout the southwest, and they reveled in every moment of their journeys.

Just like the vacationing families of 50+ years ago who traversed the long stretches of tarmac from Chicago to Santa Monica, and all points in between. They knew where and how to get their kicks.

Amy and I always revel in the traveler experience, and we can't wait to show our baby daughter the road less traveled. Hey, we took her to Salinas last night.

The point of a journey is not to arrive – the point of departure is not to return.

–Neil Peart

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Daddy K files: The sugar-and-spice myth debunked

Recently on some news radio show, I heard that women may be dirtier than men – i.e., they have more strains of bacteria on their skin than men do.

I was floored. I had to pull over and hyperventilate. Actually that was because I had arrived at work and had to go inside. And work.

I'm not sure if the sugar-and-spice myth is cross-cultural, but this anthropology minor has always been fascinated by it. Growing up, girls were ethereal and angelic. Even the anomalies of tom boys fell into a "not of this world" category. Anatomically speaking, girls were as seamless and smooth as the Barbie's we observed with scientific fascination (while we giggled obsessively at the curves and valleys).

Bathrooms were for boys to do their dirty business, but solely for the beautification of girls. In fact, I believed the rumor that public women's restrooms in restaurants, hotels and elsewhere were nothing more than elegant buffets and glittery lounges with eunuchs swinging feather fans.

Even when I grew up and lived with women, the illusion remained. The greatest magicians of today and yesterday (predominantly men) have nothing on the female sleight of hand.

Pregnancy pulled the curtain back a bit, but it was always me who left the bathroom shamed, odiferous air wafting after me like the guilt from a night of nacho/beer binging.

But now that I have a baby daughter, I know the devastating truth. It was horrifying at first, the stark reality slapping me across the face multiple times each day. I couldn't eat or sleep for weeks.

I'm better now; this book has been a Godsend.

Gentlemen, hold my hand. It'll be okay.

Girls poop. A lot.

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya…

I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you hug me

John McCain gave an eloquent and gracious concession speech this week, and while I'm a Barack Obama supporter and part of the "yes we can" daddies-for-change bandwagon (imagine what that looked like), I know John McCain loves his country and truly believed he was the right person for the job.

But he lost. Decidedly.

How does one deal with that kind of loss at that level? Or any level? More specifically, how does a dad deal with loss and his family? We talk a lot about helping our children deal with losing, as Daddy Clay at DadLabs did recently, but what about the dads?

Whether it's losing the presidential election (kinda high-profile), or struggling families whose fathers (and mothers) are losing their jobs, or losing their homes, or divorcing, or losing one of their children, or losing the big company softball game, or no matter where the loss falls on the spectrum – how do we cope with our families and children?

I've never had a child until now, but one thing I remember clearly was the open communication my mother had with me when she divorced my father. That was key. My early experiences with daddies weren't so hot, so Mom was the provider and caretaker for a few years.

But when my later father (adopting step-father) suffered one physical loss after another, his courage and strength and "fighting back for life" overshadowed any sense of loss any of us felt for him. No anger or depression or withdrawal or chemical dependence. Just straight ahead "you can't keep me down" marching orders. That's inspiring.

Most of us have some knowledge of psychiatrist Kübler-Ross's proposed stages of grief:

Denial: "This can't be happening to me."

Anger: "Why is this happening? Who is to blame?"

Bargaining: "Make this not happen, and in return I will ____."

Depression: "I'm too sad to do anything."

Acceptance: "I'm at peace with what is going to happen/has happened."

What I didn't know was that Kübler-Ross herself never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns (and of course that makes sense). I just read that in her last book before her death in 2004, she said of the five stages, "They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives."

Our grieving is as individual as our lives. Although I'm glad that more and more fathers are being responsible and sensitive and communicative and open to healing when there's loss. It does take time, but take time for your families as well. They're there for you just as you're there for them.

At least that's the case with the hip cats I'm hanging around. Give us a hug, Beck.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Daddy K solves our energy problems

Who needs Uncle T. Boone Pickens and Proposition 10? Just plug these guys into every power grid around the world and we're covered (no outlet converters needed).

And there's plenty of energy diversification as well:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And our children’s children: Solid as Barack

I got an email from my cousin this morning that basically requested friends and family to not watch Barack Obama's primetime coverage tonight at 8:00 p.m. PT (8:00 p.m. ET) titled Barack Obama: America Promises.

She's not happy about the excessive campaign spending that goes on and that if we all spent this same amount of time researching the issues on our ballots, or perhaps learning more about the candidates from a credible source, we would be more informed as an electorate.

While she definitely gave me something to chew on, and although I agreed with her in spirit, I would argue that a good percentage of the voting population (unfortunately) gets informed on politicians and issues via slanted, sound-byte T.V. I wish that weren't the case; I'm a big advocate of personal responsibility and being informed as objectively as possible from various reliable resources.

Until we have true campaign fundraising reform, private moneys raised will drive the candidates' messages (down our throats). It's a corrupt system, I know, but my wife and I support Senator Obama and have donated to his campaign, so I do hope the undecided electorate watches tonight.

I'm still pretty angry at the economic policy mistakes made by both sides of aisle since the Clinton administration about banking and financial service deregulation, and how the global pool of money incited riotous greed. Our children and our children's children will be paying for the multi-billion-dollar financial system bailouts (plus the 10-plus-billion-dollar-per-month illegitimate war bill).

That's excessive spending we're paying for whether we like it or not. And we don't like it.

Instead, we prefer being solid as Barack.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daddy K and Mama A mix Mentos and Diet Coke

Like many babies, our Baby B loves motion and vibration; it helps her fall asleep (along with various natural sounds, light music and white noise). Her bassinet, swing and bouncy chair all have a vibrate mode and she really digs that. She also likes the bouncy effect of the bouncy chair, which I've used successfully for the past week.

And that means we dig it, because it helps her fall asleep. Of course, there's no substitute for swaddling and holding and cuddling and letting baby take in your scent (just ask Mama A), but anything inanimate that helps, helps.

We're fortunate so far though, because Bea is a pretty mellow baby on the colicky scale; she's not really colicky at all to date.

Last night started off as a mellow evening, but then we had a hard time getting Bea to sleep, even after what we thought was her bedtime feeding (full belly). Being the smart daddy I am I really thought that the bouncy chair would help, so I brought it up and put it on the bed to bounce Bea while we read.

Didn't work.

Then we all went back downstairs and I tried to bounce her there in the chair.

Didn't work.

Mama tried to cuddle and gently bounce her in our big cuddle chair.

Didn't work.

Exhaustion leads to frustration and we were pretty tired at this point. Bea finally dozed off and we went straight up to bed (it wasn't that much time overall, but it felt like it).

As soon as we turned the lights out and put her in between us –

Wait for it –

"Yaaack. Waaaaaaaaaaa!" (Baby B)

"Oh my God!" (Mama A)

Did I lock the back door? (Daddy K)

"She's throwing up!" (Mama A)

"Oh my God!" (Daddy K)

Projectile milk vomit all over baby and the bed in front of her. (If I would've had more warning, I would've held her hair back for her like the chivalrous daddy I am, but she doesn't really have much to hold back. )

We quickly took Bea and cleaned her up, drained milk from her nose and throat, and took her temperature (normal). Bea cried and cried and we were scared. Really scared. This was new for all three of us and we had no idea of why she got sick.

Until you imagine mixing Mentos and Diet Coke, or putting a whole bunch of crap in a blender and mixing on high with the lid off.

After we all got cleaned up, Bea was fed again (good sign being hungry after that), and we all went fast asleep. Thank God. Was it the bouncing, or was it something Mama ate, or was it the global financial markets sucking the souls of future generations?

We may never know.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baby B co-sleeps and Daddy K wears a cat cap

Baby B is now one month and 4 days old and we're finding that parenting time with a newborn is trans-dimensional: one day can disappear in a blink and stretch out to years simultaneously. It's an erratic metronome that bends time and loses sleep.

Speaking of sleep, or lack thereof, what are the best scenarios for living with baby? We've heard so many recommendations and where baby should sleep in the first year (and beyond), and the arguments for co-sleeping and crib-sleeping can be emotionally charged on both sides.

We get Parenting magazine and Mama A marks the pages she wants me to read (great pub with quick, easy-to-read articles for overworked, sleep-deprived daddies). She had me read an article titled Dad's-Eye View: The Baby in the Middle. It's funny and scary – another erratic metronome – and shares the story of sharing bed with baby and how long it can take to get them into their own room and bed.

We're taking the co-sleeping route with bed sharing as well. We're familiar with the SIDS and roll-over arguments (we do have fans going), and even the good folk I talk with at DadLabs mostly agreed to not have the babies in bed with you. But I'm used to sleeping on a sliver of bed on the edge of my side; our cat Chelsea had claimed the center and has recently tried to reclaim it as well.

Oh God, I know. We're making sure the cat doesn't sleep too close to Baby B, no worries there. But Chelsea and Mama A have kept me fused to my side of the bed for years – now there are three girls keeping the man down. (I need a shot of Life on Mars – great new gritty cop show with a twist.)

Bea didn't want to be born at home, but she sure as heck will share our room for at least the next 6+ months (which is recommended by the America SIDS Institute). And as we transition her to the bassinet next to our bed, we'll share the bed with diligence, awareness, much love and a 133-year-old cat.

So while the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warned that bed-sharing was associated with an increase in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the work of James McKenna, Ph.D., an anthropologist shows SIDS rates to be lower in countries where co-sleeping is the norm, and the attachment-parenting theories of Babytalk contributing editor William Sears, M.D. (Both experts believe parents can -- and must -- co-sleep safely). More women do it that you think.

My hip and progressive Aunt Margene recently shared some incredible insight with us about breast feeding and bed sharing and one line that truly resonated with me was this:

An independent and self-assured child results from being accepted and allowed to be as totally and unequivocally DEPENDENT as they clearly are born to be.

I agree. Thanks, Auntie M. Baby B is a love child and we're her flower children. Somebody get the cat off my head.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary Daddy K and Mama A

Time stand still -- I'm not looking back

But I want to look around me now

See more of the people and the places that surround me now

Freeze this moment a little bit longer

Make each sensation a little bit stronger

Experience slips away...

--Neil Peart

This weekend we celebrated our anniversary – 5 years of marriage and 11 years since the day we met. As we do every year we read our vows to each other again, but this time we couldn't quite make it down to the lighthouse where we met on October 11 because we've got a little Bea in a our bonnet. So we stayed home, read our vows, and then played Scrabble. Good times.

Early Friday morning was even sweeter for me because Beatrice and I hung out and listened to B Notes, the songs we put together that sing the very essence of having a love child. Yep, love child. What else would it B?

The little bugger brought tears to my eyes. I cradled her in my arms and she studied me intently as each song played. I played the drums lightly on her behind and just as the tears pooled in my eyes, she pooped.

And then smiled and yawned.

Our friends Nancy and Mickey stopped by to visit on Saturday and then Dani and Nathan and their children Kevin and Kelly came by today (I always say Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly - from the old Cheers episode).

Tonight we went to one of our favorite haunts, La Mission, to celebrate our anniversary, 'cause you can never have enough Mexican food. Beatrice was a sweet as a little angel, sleeping away while we ate and talked.

Freeze these moments a little bit longer…

Birthday Announcement and what was in the news

Our birth announcement was in the Santa Cruz Sentinel today. Whoo-hoo!

Grossman – September 22 at 7:08 p.m., to Amy Lynn (Dahlen) and Kevin Wayne Grossman, Santa Cruz, a 7-pound, 8-ounce girl, Beatrice Dahlen.

Not really glamorous or the literary verbosity I prefer, but hey, it was free.

And speaking of newspapers, here are the stories from the papers we read – the San Jose Mercury News and the SC Sentinel – from Beatrice's birthday, September 22, 2008. (This may not do a thing for you, but it's something I needed to do for us.)

An Era Ends on Wall St.


In a move that fundamentally reshapes an era of high finance that defined the modern Gilded Age, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last two independent investment banks on Wall Street, will transform themselves into bank holding companies subject to far greater regulation, the Federal Reserve said Sunday night.

The firms requested the change themselves, even as Congress and the Bush administration rushed to pass a $700 billion rescue of financial firms. It was a blunt acknowledgment that their model of finance and investing had become too risky and that they needed the cushion of bank deposits that had kept big commercial banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase relatively safe amid the recent turmoil...

Democrats push back on bailout proposal

The government's $700 billion plan to bail out the banking system might calm panicked financial markets, but its real value could be in buying time to address the root problem: the continuing slide in housing values.

The Treasury Department's rescue plan is far from a done deal, with Democrats saying Sunday that they would push for more relief measures aimed at homeowners facing foreclosure and for stricter oversight of the program that would allow the government to buy billions of dollars of securities tied to troubled mortgages...

Odd twist for law-and-order measure


California's police and prosecutors are asking voters for a guaranteed $965 million from the state each year and a slew of tough new penalties, but an unlikely figure is championing their anticrime "Safe Neighborhoods Act" on the November ballot.

The man who paid to put Proposition 6 before the voters now faces a possible 340 years in prison in a pair of indictments that accuse him of backdating stock options, supplying meth and cocaine to friends and prostitutes, and spiking colleagues' drinks with Ecstasy...

Sentinel Triathlon draws 1,000 on record-breaking day

Nearly 1,000 racers wearing wetsuits and smiles congregated on Main Beach early Sunday, bracing themselves for the 58-degree Pacific Ocean that awaited them just a few steps from the starting line of the 26th annual Sentinel Triathlon.

The frigid temperature didn't appear to scare any athletes off, though. Veterans and newcomers crowded the shore, as did cheering family members and hundreds of spectators who once again turned out for the race, an annual fundraiser for local schools that is now more than a quarter-century old...

Watsonville kids carnival supports cancer services

The Watsonville City Plaza was transformed into a miniature fairground Sunday for the 10th annual Kidrageous Carnival, sponsored by Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Support Services.

Bounce houses, carnival games, live music and performances took place from noon to 5 p.m., bringing thousands of community members and families out to recognize Children's Cancer Awareness month and to celebrate life...

Cable's 'Mad Men' makes TV history


The sleek '60s drama "Mad Men" made Emmy history Sunday as the first basic-cable show to win a top series award, while the sitcom "30 Rock" and its stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin also emerged as big winners…

Digital players go in for a tune-up

Just in time for late back-toschool or early holiday shopping, Apple, Microsoft and others have unveiled a new crop of digital media players.

Some have radical design changes. Many have neat new features. And most offer more storage space for songs, videos, pictures or games at a lower price...

After Raiders blow late lead, all eyes back on beleaguered Kiffin


Surreality, guy time and why men should be able to lactate

Colicky we are not. At least Baby Bea isn't. I'm probably more colicky than any of us. The surreal dimensional shift from no baby to crying pooping peeing baby hasn't been as painful as I would have thought – but it's still painfully surreal.

It was like we were shot into space for 9+ months, flipping and flowing in the zero gravity of a mellow pregnancy – still only two of us – and then the heat shield slipped during reentry.

Santa Cruz, we have a problem.

Now that we've almost completed week 3 with baby, we're all getting to know each other a little more every day. Mama and Bea have got the on-demand breastfeeding gig down. I've got the diaper changing gig down. Mama is cutting Bea's nails (I can't do it yet). Nighttime is still a little random; it'll take a few more weeks at the very least to get a better schedule going. Last night was great, though.

However, we are still getting to know each other every day. We stare at Bea and think what the heck is it, and Bea stares at us and thinks what the heck are they – oh, you're the one with the boobies. Come here.

We're not pumping the milk yet, but we'll start that soon and then I can help with the feedings, particularly in the early mornings when I'm usually already up working. We've got lots of new parenting books, but the one I'm currently reading is called Caveman's Guide to Baby's First Year. It's informative and fun for guys because it's not dumbed down; it's written for smart guys who are guys and are responsible and who have a solid sense of humor.

For example, of the top 10 reasons men should be able to lactate, the top three are:

  1. A new twist on the "There once was a man from Nantucket…" limerick

  2. A perfect complement to the man-gina

  3. Finally qualified to get that job at Hooters

Ain't that a hoot? Okay, some family and friend folk may not think it's funny, but considering I took a caretaking quiz in the same book above and scored high as a manny – one who can care for your kids as well – I need some guy time.

Go SJSU Spartans!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Daddy K and Mama A have a frickin’ baby

What a life-altering two weeks it's been. I haven't posted since the birth and the birth story and for good reason.

We have a frickin' baby. A beautiful, healthy little baby girl who to date has been pretty mellow.

Until earlier tonight. Beatrice got the hiccups that led to a gaseous supernova that led to a complete meltdown (for baby and parents) two times in a very short period of time. Listen, we're still getting use to day one with baby – but Bea is on day 13 – and we have no idea what we're doing.

Okay, not necessarily true. We've got our books and family and friends and spirituality and religiosity and trans-channeling and high-fructose corn syrup and –

19th century colic advice, "Put cotton in your ears and gin in your stomach."

The key is to trigger the calming reflex. We've been on the right track, just not consistent enough. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block tells us to follow the five S's:

  1. Swaddling

  2. Side lying

  3. Shushing

  4. Swinging

  5. Sucking

The fifth we're going to try to avoid if possible (no pacifiers or fingers). The first four work and we'll get better at applying them when necessary.

Time is so completely fluid right now; the five-minute baby meltdowns can feel like days when you're attempting to console baby (and praying it wasn't anything you did wrong as a parent).

To the five S's!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daddy K tells a birth story

Saturday, September 27, 2008, 2:00 a.m.

With Beatrice just fed and changed (again and again and again), I lay here not able to sleep. The Talking Heads song "Stay Up Late" keeps playing in my head and I keep the drum beat with my hands and feet (I may just add the song to B notes due out soon). Amy asks what I'm doing, I tell her I'm drumming and decide I need to write.

Before I get my laptop, I lie next to lovely Beatrice and stare at her, her arms rocking over her head. She bops me on the nose.

"I know honey bee," I whisper. "We didn't know it was your arm."

Five days and six hours earlier, Sunday night, September 21

We're watching the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. Thank God because the comedy relief is just what Amy needs right now. The contractions are getting stronger and are coming 3-4 per hour. Amy's bouncing on the exercise ball and I call our midwife and doula to keep them appraised of where we're at. Everything is in place and we look forward to our planned home birth.

A couple hours pass and the contractions are getting more uncomfortable for Amy. I'm amazed at how she's taking it in stride, though. It's about 10:00 p.m. now and I again call our midwife with an update.

Maybe another hour has passed, maybe two. The contractions are definitely lining up like planes at O'Hare. Amy wants our friend and doula Annee to come over so I call her. She's on her way. Soon after that, I call our midwife and she's on her way.

Time is irrelevant to me at this point. The very linear nature of time expands with the moments' labor, stretching outward to the sky and filling all space in between, only to collapse again into broken seconds that line Amy's path. She's moving around the house, getting in and out of the birthing tub, staying on top of her labor. Kathe coaches her, Annee soothes and I do what I can to do the same. But it's not the same for me being a man, and no matter how I help, a helplessness seeps in. Sometime during the night she dilates to six.

It's early morning around 6:30 a.m. and Amy's water breaks. She's also fully dilated at this point, unusually quick for a first-time mom. It's time to push. Kathe makes a comment about the baby coming with the sunrise. Amy's worn out but amazingly keeps going. She's so completely in the moment with each contraction, embracing our baby with her very soul while her uterus works. Not even the most seasoned triathlete can compete with the strength and stamina of a woman in labor. Not even close. I am in awe. I am humbled. God is a woman.

Another hour passes. Another midwife, Laura, comes over to assist ours in what we hope will be the home stretch. We've been up all night now and it's taking its toll on me as well. We're trying all sorts of positions for Amy to push the baby out, but it's not moving, not passing the pubic bone.

Time is now a thick sludge we wade through. Amy's completely exhausted. The midwives and Annee are doing a great job but I'm losing it. Watching Amy go through this with me not able to do anything other than hold her and love her. Helplessness seizes me and I breakdown, shaking and crying. The totality of it all is overwhelming. All I can think about is being a little boy again, paralyzed with fear because of an abusive father and step-father. I can't get the fear out of my head.

I know this glorious day of our child's birth is not about me and my past, but all my courage has fled and hidden under the bed. I am no use to anyone.

Laura fixes us all something to eat. Scrambled eggs and toast. We all take a much needed break and let Amy rest for a few. She can't hold anything down at this point and her stamina wanes. I get it together again and am ready to help.

The baby isn't moving no matter how much Amy pushes and no matter what position she's in. We move back and forth from the baby's room to our room. No change. I get Amy in the shower and it's at that point I want to call the ballgame. Call it and go to the hospital. But we don't because if we can only get the baby's head under the pubic bone, we're home free. I breakdown again and Kathe tells me to pull it together for Amy. I recover quicker this time.

It's midday on Monday, September 22, and we've got Amy on our bed pushing again. Something's wrong, though. The baby's heart rate is decelerating fast and is cut in half with each push. That's the first time I see doubt in our midwife's eyes; she monitors the baby's heart rate and is shaking her head a little.

Calmly she says, "Okay, I think we've done all that we can do. It's time to go in."

More talk about d-cels and heart rates and I become surreal detachment; let's go I think but don't say anything. Amy's beyond exhaustion and she's dehydrated; her eyes track slowly from person to person and she howls with each contraction.

There's confusion. The baby's heart rate stabilizes. We need to go to Sutter to meet our OB/GYN, but we also call 911 to go to Dominican. The EMTs and ambulance arrive at our house and there's an exchange between them and our midwives but I don't really hear any of it. I'm thinking of what to bring and to get Amy dressed to go. Annee helps me find something for her to wear.

We're outside, Amy's on the gurney, and now the ambulance guys are telling us they can't take us to Sutter because there's no emergency room there. Kathe negotiates while monitoring the baby but I just want us to go.

"Let's just drive ourselves there," I say. "Get in the car."

Get in the car, I keep thinking. Get in the car.

We get Amy off the gurney. The EMTs are explaining something to me but I don't understand what they're talking about. I don't understand anything except getting in the car and going to Sutter.

Kathe gets in the back with Amy and I drive. The baby's heart rate is still strong. We're there in less than 10 minutes.

We check in and get our room and Amy is done. "No more pushing," she says. "No more pain." They give her a mild pain killer and start giving her Pitocin, everything we wanted to avoid, but now everything I wanted her to have. Our OB in the meantime, the one who was meeting us at Sutter, is trapped in gridlock on Highway 1 because of any earlier accident.

The OB finally arrives but they still aren't starting the delivery. She give the okay for the anesthesiologist to administer what's called a spinal (like an epidural) and it takes effect immediately giving Amy relief. Only problem is that her right side isn't staying numb, so the anesthesiologist has to keep adjusting it.

It's been hours and we're confused and inpatient. Amy's spinal finally works on her right side. The contractions are constant and she wants to get the baby out. We're supposed to deliver right there in the room.

Around 6:00 p.m. I go downstairs to get something to eat. Three minutes after I order a cheeseburger and fries Annee runs into the cafeteria telling me to come now. My first thought is the baby's coming. But as we're running back up the stairs, Annee says, "The baby crashed and they went to the OR!"

The baby crashed and they went to the OR.

The baby crashed.

The baby.

I feel like my body has fallen away and I'm flying towards the room. Kathe and Annee are yelling things I can't comprehend and they tell me to get the blue scrubs on. They lead me to the operating room and a nurse lets me in.

"You're the husband? Come this way."

Stark whiteness washes over me and I'm immediately sat next to Amy. She's shaking but strong and ready to go. I'm out of my mind but not showing it. The OB is there. There are nurses and the anesthesiologist and everyone's moving around doing things I don't understand. The leg clamps don't work on the table, so two of the nurses actually hold Amy's legs up. Amy pushes and pushes and the OB coaches her along. They didn't let our midwife in so it's just me holding Amy's hand and urging her on. And praying. I even joke at one point to offer my help in doing anything to get the baby out.

The OB says we're making progress and gets the vacuum ready. Based on what she's telling us, she's only going to try to vacuum three times and then we're doing a Caesarean. But the vacuum isn't holding any suction and they have to change it two times. The OB keeps encouraging Amy to push and push. The baby's heart rate stays in the safe range.

She pushes and pushes. Two sets of labor and two different experiences in 24 hours – at home and at the hospital. Finally the OB hooks the vacuum up and pulls and pop – she looks startled, falls back and smiles.

"There we go. It was the arm. The baby's arm was up over its head."

The baby's arm was up over its head. Wow.

A second later the baby is out, umbilical cord is cut and the baby is rushed over to a side table and cleaned. Amy's still shaking but smiling. She whispers, "I'd better pay my co-pay." The baby cries. The pediatrician who was in the operating room calls me over to see the baby and identify the sex.

I'm still flying when I see that B is a girl – our little Beatrice – 7 lbs. 8 oz. (although that was wrong in retrospect; she was actually 7 lbs., 14 oz.), 21 inches long, and born at 7:08 p.m., September 22, 2008 (which is also the anniversary of me quitting smoking).

From that point on we're rushed along this newly formed river, spilling over falls after falls after falls, the water sweet, cool and fresh like snowmelt in spring.

We spend two nights at Sutter, Amy nursing herself and the baby. Wednesday morning we come home, but Amy's not well; her neck is sore and she develops a spinal headache (which started right after birth actually). We sleep off and on. The baby feeds, sleeps, poops and pees. We become semi-pros at changing diapers within 24 hours. Friday afternoon we head back to Sutter so the anesthesiologist can give Amy a blood patch in order to quell the headache.

While Beatrice and I are waiting for Amy, I change her twice and her crying is minimal. She's such a good baby. I hold her gingerly, watching her gaze out the window at the world beyond us, a lifetime of possibility before her. My heart is full and I thank God for my Amy and my B.

Now we're home and Amy is better and Baby is sleeping sound.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Now we know why we called it plan B.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Daddy K and Mama A are overdue and know it; we’re all good

It's mostly my fault, feeding the Baby B hype and due date and the 0-60 mama and daddy transformation. The fact of the matter is: most babies don't come on their due date. For those of you who have experienced this (in our mother's generation it was not uncommon to deliver at 42 or even 43 weeks), you understand frustration and disappointment and the emotional toll it takes.

Family and friends have the best intentions and share their concern, but that can also add to the level of frustration – especially when there's nothing wrong with us or the baby at this point. It's just late.

In fact, of the 95 percent who don't arrive on time, 7 out of 10 are overdue. And the baby isn't considered overdue until two weeks – not one day or week – two weeks. And only then do you consider options for inducing if there are medical issues, because there is evidence that some babies are at risk after this stage due to a gradual decrease in the supply of nutrients from the placenta.

We have a plan B if we get to that point. We've had a plan B since the beginning (wink). We, including our midwife, didn't just fall off the turnip truck (well, maybe I did, but that's not the point).

Here are some great tips for overdue parents from the Mayo Clinic:

Hang in there. You're in the homestretch! Whether your health care provider suggests a wait-and-see approach or schedules an induction, do your best to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

  1. Accept your emotions. It's OK to feel frustrated or disappointed. You probably didn't bargain for more than 40 weeks of pregnancy.

  2. Take advantage of the extra time. Sleep in while you can. Put the finishing touches on the nursery. Stock your freezer with extra meals. Address birth announcements and thank you cards.

  3. Make plans (we are). Your health care provider may want you to stay close to home, but that's no reason to miss a new movie, go out to dinner or take a walk in the park. Don't be afraid to make plans just because you may need to cancel at the last minute.

  4. Put your answering machine or voice mail to work (which we've done!). To keep well-meaning friends and loved ones up-to-date, consider recording a greeting with the latest on the pregnancy front. "We're patiently waiting for the big day!" may be enough to handle the inquiries that are sure to test your patience.

  5. Treat home remedies with a dose of caution. A simple Internet search will yield countless results for "natural" ways to trigger labor, such as eating spicy food or having sex. Some tactics are relaxing, others silly — and a few may do more harm than good. Get your health care provider's OK before trying any home remedies, herbal supplements or alternative treatments (we've gotten our witchdoctor's approval – we're good).

  6. Stay in touch with your health care provider (we are). You'll need frequent checkups until your baby is born. If you think you're in labor, call your health care provider right away.

Soon you'll hold your baby in your arms — and the long wait will no longer matter.

We're all good for now folks. That's why I did away with the Baby B ticker; it was overdue (wink).

No baby yet. Keep out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Daddy K loves the game

Go SJSU Spartans beating San Diego State this weekend 35-10! Quarterback Kyle Reed was back in the saddle and then some. So was their defense. Next week they go to Stanford to face the Cardinals.

And the Raiders won this weekend as well!

They both lost last weekend – SJSU a close one against Nebraska, but the Raiders were worked over by Denver.

Hey, I'm a daddy-to-be who loves football, even if I don't watch much of it. Mama A gives me a little sports slack.

Daddy K sets up a TotSpot account

Mama A and I are social folk, but I'm the social animal. I'm the one who links in and tweets and blogs and toots. Wait, forget about the last one. Please.

And although Amy's been good about letting me rant and coo over the sound of my own voice, we have had serious talks about what we're willing to post for the world once Baby B comes into the world.

Which will be sometime in the fall of 2012.

I have a lot of faith in the goodness of the virtual world around me, and to date I haven't experienced any creepy folk hanging around our blog, but I certainly respect my wife's concerns.

The guys at DadLabs were also talking about it recently and I wrote:

Great question and one I'm thinking more and more about. As it stands now I launched a blog for God and the world to view about our pregnancy and other related "be positive about life rants", and I used my last name (although not others) and the city we live in and have shared many photos. I've been accused of loving the sound of my own writing and writhing, but then again I like to share. My wife is somewhat concerned at times of how much I share online but loves the fact I like to share. My feeling is that I want to be part of the larger conversation, a virtual parents group and beyond of one who spreads the gospel of personal responsibility and taking care of business, family, community.

Yes, the world can be a dangerous place; that's not the world I want to live in. Even in this cool forum at DadLabs, there could be freaks waiting to pounce. (Have you seen the campaign? I get it but Christ almighty.) I was abused as a child but I'm not hanging my hat on that to be afraid or paranoid for my family or my child.

That all being said, there is a new online service called TotSpot for families to securely share their children's lives and photos.

For now I'm going to continue to share on my blog and in forums such as this. I'd rather feel the love if you know what I mean.

As mentioned above, I've known about a secure parent-child social networking service called TotSpot for a few months and just signed up for an account. Once B arrives, I'll use this service to share our child's life with our family and friends.

So while I'll still rant and coo about daddy-related issues and personal responsibility, I don't plan on sharing pics and video of Baby B on this blog.

Keeping it real and safe for the Bster and beyond. Can't wait to feel that love.

In the summer of 2015.

Daddy K does a double-take

So here we are still waiting for Baby B to arrive (maybe the full moon tonight will help), and when I catch up with my good friends at Nelson News, I find out they're pregnant with twins.

Twins mind you. I can't even get my kid out of the womb and their son will have two brothers or sisters.

Wow. We couldn't be more thrilled for them. Troy, fly over our house and honk.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Daddy K says, “That’s okay, that’s all right – stay in there and fight, fight, fight!”

One of the many informative online resources I've found for fathers (and mothers as well) is the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. The "Take Time To Be A Dad" site is a better name, but c'mon, it's a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pro-marriage but not co-habitation, there is information in the site I question, but for the most part I've enjoyed perusing it.

Here are some depressing stats:

  1. 24 million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father.

  2. Nearly 20 million children (27 percent) live in single-parent homes.

  3. 43 percent of first marriages dissolve within fifteen years; about 60 percent of divorcing couples have children; and approximately one million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.

Having loving, involved, personally responsible parents in a lifetime partnership is the key for change, biological or not, married or not.

And this video is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. Love it.

(I played football in high school, but one year in the off season, I was a cheerleader for the girl's powder puff flag football team. Is there a problem?)

Mama A struggles for sleep in the zero hour

Mama A had a rough night last night. The Baby B Ticker reads "0 Days to Go" but no baby yet. Early labor has progressed at a glacial pace, and the sinus congestion, baby-on-bladder syndrome and no sleep has caused tectonic plates to shift under our house; it's now like living a span of geological time.

Mom and baby are fine, so at this point there are no medical issues. And only about 5% - 10% of babies are born on their due date. According to

Unfortunately, a specified due date has made women (and their family and friends) place too much emphasis on a precise day - to the point that they plan their life around it. Your baby doesn't have a calendar, however, so it is no surprise that less than 10 percent of babies actually arrive on the date they are due.

Sigh. No consolation for mothers ready for the babies to beamed out of them like an old Star Trek episode. I may as well have thrown a dart to pick a date.

We were all sure that Baby B would come early, but not so. Amy's had such a mellow pregnancy – except now the sleep deprivation is wearing her down. I wish there was more I could do for her.

According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 78 percent of women reported more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. And approximately 30 percent of pregnant women snore because of increased swelling in their nasal passages.

Most sleep problems come in the third trimester, and for us, at the end of the uterine road. All signs indicate birth is imminent. So we wait.

Maybe today, Baby B? Mama's levitating over our bed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bumpin' Baby B

Waiting and waiting and waiting. Only 1 day left on the Baby B Ticker. Maybe the baby is having a dance party in there and doesn't want to come out 'cause it's havin' too much fun. We already sent our midwife in and B said, "Talk to the hand, lady." (Actually it was the midwife's hand talking to the baby.)

So maybe if we call the cops to break the party up, B will come on out?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The K files: In remembrance

This time last year we took a trip to New England with Amy's Uncle and wife. We stayed in New Hampshire and took day trips to Boston, Salem, Cape Cod, and other surrounding areas. Although the fall foliage hadn't fully arrived yet (a few leaves changing here and there), it was still gorgeous countryside – especially when getting lost on rural New England roads to nowhere.

Two days after we arrived I received a phone call from my office. One of my colleagues' daughters was in a horrible motorcycle accident that had put her into a coma, and then on September 11 she passed away. She had just started college in the Boston area two weeks before that. Since we were there on our trip, we were all happy to offer our support to her family.

Most of us are in the habit to respond gingerly to such tragedy, listening, offering prays and support, nodding our heads saying we understand and we know how they feel.

But we really don't know. We do our best to be there for those who have lost loved ones, but we have no idea unless we've lost a child or family member ourselves.

We really don't know.

Amy and I were still trying to get pregnant this time last year. We couldn't even imagine the depth of loss they experienced. For the past year the family has struggled and grieved and done their best to rise up on the healing road. (Two recommended books on loss from differing perspectives include Neil Peart's Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road and Jerry Sittser's A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss)

Their faith in God's will is strong, but still…

Remembering my friend and colleague's daughter this week puts our baby's life and our own in perspective. It's a cherished gift this life. Embrace it and don't let go.

Live, love and B.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Daddy K gets a great email bumper sticker

An old high school friend sent me this and man does it hit the mark for me. Review and talk amongst yourselves. We can agree to disagree if need B.

Waiting for Baby B: Quick tips for new fathers during the 9-month dance

Where the heck is the baby? We wait and wait, and nothing yet. Although the signs are all there that Baby B is getting ready, it's moving at a glacial pace.

Mama A says, "Baby, get moving! Time to get out of there!"

Daddy K says, "Baby B, save yourself! Get out now!"

Baby B says, "Gurgle, gurgle, hiccup" – kick.

So there you have it. All we can do is keep busy and stay active and do the things we do. No, no more strenuous hikes like in Yosemite. This weekend we went to the Greek Festival, the Santa Cruz Library had a book sale and we bought a big bad of books, the Capitola Art & Wine Festival was fun – good times.

But no baby yet, which leads me to some quick tips for new fathers during the 9-month dance:

  1. Be involved in the pregnancy. This is your child too and you made it with your wife and/or partner. Go to as many of the baby check-up appointments as you can, whether you're having a hospital birth with an OB or a home birth with a midwife. Ask questions and be informed about what's coming. Work conflicts are one thing if you don't have much flexibility, but complaining because you have to miss a ball game on T.V. or because your global buds are ready for the next video game level – that don't cut it.

  2. Don't push the pregnant one's buttons. Even with a mellow pregnancy like we've had so far, the hormonal witches' brew can boil over at times. Case in point, early on in the pregnancy Amy was looking for her favorite sweat bottoms and couldn't find them. So I reluctantly helped to look for them. We realized they had probably fallen behind a dresser drawer, but I was worried about breaking the drawer, and I said that out loud multiple times. I tried to pull it out gingerly while Amy stuck her hand behind the drawer and – snap, ouch – her hand got caught. Then, she cursed repeatedly and removed the drawer with the same kind of adrenaline that saves kittens and children under burning buses.

  3. Read and read and read some more about being pregnant and having babies and caring for them (I got a whole list of books if you want 'em). Listen to others' birth stories as well. Rinse and repeat. And then when you're at 39+ weeks, you wait and pray. You're as ready as you're ever gonna be.

  4. Stay active and healthy. Don't be a sloth, especially if you're going to be an older parent. Eat right and exercise regularly. Workout and walk with your pregnant spouse. We haven't experienced it yet but we've been told that we're going to need every ounce of energy we can muster in the first 3 months (18 years).

  5. Intimacy, intimacy and more intimacy. Kissing and hugging and you know what I mean. Enough said. The baby needs to "know" that Mama and Daddy love each other. The baby's in its own insulated spacesuit, remember that. You're good, unless the water breaks, and then you've got a birth a-comin'.

  6. Talk to your unborn child. Read to your unborn child. Poke your unborn child. Good times.

  7. Plan for maternity leave, health benefits, baby expenses, wills, guardians and other financial and legal mumbo-jumbo before the baby comes. For parents who need dual incomes to support their families, it's really important to plan as far ahead in the first 12+ months as possible. Leave a bubble of income if possible for unexpected expenses.

  8. Be mindful of every moment during pregnancy. It's a pretty fascinating journey. Be aware and actively present in the moment. You should always reflect on your past and plan for your future – but always be mindful of the present and live in your presence.

All right, B. What's up? Or when's down?