I try to be good hard worker man…

My friend in the Gray Flannel Suit decided to add a “suggestion box” to his blog courtesy of Skribit as a way to generate ideas for new blog material. Being a “smartass” I couldn’t help but take advantage of a new text box and decided to drop in the line “I try to be good, hard worker man but refrigimator so messy, so, so messy.” Sadly, he is not a NewsRadio aficionado so the humor was on the more confusing side.

Since it ranks as one of my top 5 favorites shows of all time, I feel this world needs more NewsRadio aficionados. And thus I direct you all to the complete “Complaint Box” episode. For one of the all time funniest scenes, skip ahead to about 13:30. But when you have time, watch the whole thing and then hop on over to Hulu and enjoy the first 4 seasons.

The times they are a-changin’

I started to write about Kayleigh’s wonderful sleep habits. And then I switched to writing about how horrible they had become. And then it was about how she had snapped out of it and started sleeping well again. And then, just in case you couldn’t guess, it was back to the bad. That would be a short synopsis of how things are going – they change constantly.

So let me focus on what really matters right now: Kayleigh honestly becomes more wonderful everyday. In spite of any setbacks with the sleep routine or eating (does she really need to throw half the banana on the floor), her beautiful smile and sweet disposition overshadows everything. Yeah, I’m gushing – but that’s what us dads do. And the biggest reason for me to gush these days? She really loves me, too.

You see, for a while there Kayleigh got wrapped up in my role as the Bringer of Bedtime. When I got home from work, fun time was over and I was just going to rock the dickens out of her until drowsiness took hold and she lost another night of playing with Mom. Coupled with her separation anxiety (which now only applied to The Woman) this meant that my return from work was greeted with a brief smile followed by wailing and gnashing of teeth at her impending fate. Never mind the fact that most times I wasn’t rushing her off to bed – logic need not apply to babies! All that mattered was that I was linked to her most hated part of the day.

But like everything else, that changed. One day I came home, she flashed a HUGE smile, said “Daddy!” and reached out for a hug. And unlike before, she was actually excited to come to me and be held. No rushing off to hide from Mommy or distract her with a video. She stayed in my arms willingly – even while standing next to her preferred parent. And now our routine has expanded to include a nice walk around the neighborhood to ease into bed time.

Oh those walks! Nothing but big smiles and pointing out all of the words she knows – tree, dog, car. We say hi to the neighbors and watch birds fly over head. She lets me munch on her neck and blow raspberries and toss her up in the air. This is becoming my favorite part of the day.

Somehow her congeniality even extends into the morning routine. When I pick her up out of the crib she says, “Hi Daddy, nice” and then proceeds to gently pet me. And she even happily comes with me after that first nursing, to spend some quality time with Dad, running around in circles on her toy while I throw things at her. It’s the little things…

I better wrap this post up before she wakes and forces me to add another paragraph about her new bad habits. Expect some more pictures in the coming days – she’s just too cute to resist.

So you think you can…

The Woman and I watch So You Think You Can Dance a day late, owing to her work schedule, so we just watched this performance last night. But I felt it needed to be shared, even if I’m late as usual.

I guess I already handed over my “man card” by mentioning that I watch this show regularly, so it’s safe to go ahead and say that this performance had me in tears. Yes, there’s a whole lot of made up drama in these “reality” shows, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any real emotion.

On birthing and such

Where was I? Oh yeah, around 3 in the afternoon on the 10th, Lisa had a quick bite, and then we were off to the hospital. It’s a weird feeling knowing that the next time you come home together everything will be different. And let’s make no bones about it – EVERYTHING changes once the baby arrives. The pregnancy and all of that planning that leads up to it is nothing compared to the realization that there a mini-human that completely depends on you…

So yeah, we went to the hospital. The waiting room for labor and delivery was humorously stereotypical – nervous fathers-to-be accompanying calm mothers-to-be who were knitting or reading magazines or making phone calls. All of that “intensive” training really does nothing except for prepare you for just how graphic… I mean beautiful… the actual process is. All of the calming and focusing techniques go right out the window as soon as the words “I think my water just broke” are uttered.

The in-laws showed up (mother, father, and sister) and I figured it was time to start letting everyone in on what was going on. So text messages and phone calls were made. Rather than calling everyone, my Mom offered herself up as the point contact (this is the usual scenario in my large family). Of course it seemed as though each time I got off the phone telling her nothing happened, something happened.

“We’re just stuck in the waiting room.” They move us to an exam room.

“We’re still in the exam room, they’ve got no where to put us.” They move us into a holding room for women “not quite ready to go”.

“Yeah, it’s a holding pattern. Nothing going on.” Lisa starts have major contractions and they start prepping a birthing suite for us.

“Holy cow! She’s almost fully dilated! Kayleigh’s coming any minute!” The obstetrician and nurses start taking bets as to just how bad the intern was at measuring and determine that she’s only at about 2-3 cm. We’re in for a long night.

The entire night was a back and forth affair of nothing happening followed by frantic scrambling when it seemed like everything was suddenly lurching forward. By the time we did move into the birthing suite, Lisa was having full blown contractions even though she was not even close to fully dilated. On top of that, the contractions did not stop. You know how they always have people counting between the contractions? And once they are close together it’s go time? Well Lisa didn’t get the benefit of the down time. Instead of CONTRACTION! Wait ten minutes… CONTRACTION! It was CONTRACTIONCONTRACTIONCONTRACTION!!!!

So the cute thought I had that she might be able to go the hippie natural route was tossed out the windows along with my nerves. It took 2 attempts to place the epidural before she was finally able to relax at all (the first one only numbed one side – I have many stupid analogies for that, but I’ll spare you). But relax can be a relative word, and by midnight we were anxiously awaiting any progress reports with little sleep to keep us going. By 1 AM I finally took a little snooze.

I should really thank my in-laws at this point. I was very nervous about having them around, fearing that it might be too crowded and noisey. But they played an essential supportive role before, during, and after the birth. By the time I collapsed at around 1 I was going on 2 hours of sleep in the previous 40+ hours. The three of them were able to take turns at Lisa’s side and make sure she was ok. They also bought me some… wait for it… McDonald’s for dinner.

The night was tiring. There was a lot of waiting. At the very least I was able to eat and sleep and move around a bit. Lisa was not so lucky. Once your water breaks and they put you in bed, the hospital won’t let you do anything. Well, they’ll let you sleep, but even with the drugs it was tough for her to doze off. But come morning we still felt refreshed knowing that our daughter would be arriving within hours.

I’d say it was right around this time 1 year ago that the pushing began. And once again, thank you to my mother and sister-in-law. Fortunately no one was bothered by the extra person in the room (the hospital only allows the partner and one other person) and they were able to help out both me and the hospital staff. Outside of a single night nurse that we complained about, the staff was incredible. The obstetrician (who turned out to be the only doctor from the practice that Lisa hadn’t met) was calming, warm, and friendly – and very capable.

Honestly, the process is both graphic and beautiful at the same time. In the birthing classes the instructor cautioned that babies don’t necessarily come out looking all cute and cuddly, bonding with you the instant they make an appearance. And it’s true. When Kayleigh finally popped out she was covered in vernix and her eyes were practically swollen shut. While I was never able to imagine what she would look like before, I did assume that she’d be bald or have very light hair. Instead she had a thin covering of dark hair. There was part of me that felt like she didn’t look like my daughter at all.

And then they did all the usual hospital things (sans shots). Wiping her down. Warming her up. Throwing that goop in her eyes. Weighing her naked and screaming. And a fatherly urge started to kick in. At first I wasn’t sure what to do. Am I even allowed to hold her? Should I be comforting her, or would that be interfering? Do I even know how to do any of that? I’m still amazed at how quickly those questions and doubts start to melt away.

After Lisa was given a chance to be a mother for the first time and begin bonding with her little Kayleigh, it was my turn. Once I held that little bundle close to my heart and smelled her sweet little head I never wanted to put her down again. I just wanted to sit down and watch her sleep the day away.

Looking back on those days, nothing really seems that difficult about it. Obviously I’m not the one who had to go through labor and the serious discomfort after the fact (Lisa had some painful recovery issues including back problems), but it’s really such a brief event in the scheme of our lives and hers.

Had I written this at the time of her birth, I’d probably mention more about the hospital stay (thanks for the private suite!) but it really seems inconsequential now. I ate a lot of McDonald’s. Lisa had to stay in bed almost the entire time. It was the most Kayleigh slept for months to come. Thankfully we were able to relax knowing that the hospital staff was there to help us out with the learning process. But after two short days, we came home to do it all on our own.

I’m not sure which was a bigger day in my life. The 11th, when we welcomed Kayleigh into the world, or the 13th, when we began our new life as a family. Either way I’m just so thankful it happened – because I love my family more than I thought possible. Thank you Lisa and Kayleigh.

Here’s the story, of a girl named Kayleigh

A year ago, at this moment, I was either calling my Mom, waiting for the epidural to be placed, or asking one of the doctors/interns floating around how many centimeters dilated the mother-to-be was. Or maybe I was quickly eating a McDonald’s snack wrap hoping to get another energy boost as my body started to fade…

As I already mentioned, it started last night. Well, 1 year ago last night. That’s when Lisa, The Woman, started feeling contractions. Not too surprisingly, they kept us up. We were only a few days shy of her actual due date, so this was expected. Of course that didn’t stop me from feeling completely unprepared – but at least I was ready to be unprepared…

Anyway, in case you couldn’t guess, nothing happened that night. We finally went to bed sometime after midnight, only to be woken by impending contractions around 4 in the morning. These ones kept us up for a couple of hours. After many failed attempts to properly count them, it was determined that they were not getting closer. But while the little lady decided to go back to sleep and rest up, I gave into the dawning day and headed into work early. If we were going to make a list of mistakes made that day, this would probably be listed #1.

Regardless, work went smoothly. Billy (my tech) was even nice enough to grab some lunch for me at McDonald’s. This is important to note, since I wouldn’t get to eat outside of the hospital for another 3 days – and can you guess what fast food place was located in said hospital? Yeah, anyway, work managed to slightly distract me long enough for the inevitable phone call to come.

Now you may hear a different version of this story. One in which I take my sweet time getting home. But the important part is that Lisa’s water broke, she called me and I eventually made my way to her with 2 slices of pizza. Nothing else in that part of the story matters, so let’s just move along…

As much as I’d like to finish this tonight, some really strange typos might start creeping in, so we’ll pick up tomorrow morning with us arriving at the hospital.

The end of year one

Exactly one year ago at this time my wife started to feel real contractions. We wouldn’t head to the hospital until the next afternoon, and Kayleigh wouldn’t make her appearance until the following day. But it all started on this night.

I’m amazed to realize that a full year has gone by. I had a lot more plans to make regular updates over the course of these twelve months, but a funny thing happened on the way: I fell in love. It’s true. I’d rather sit on the floor and watch her bang two random toys together in a nonsensical way than to sit at the computer and post about it. And let’s face it, just how exciting are those “she pooped a lot today” or “we started feeding her solids, so her poop is not as watery” or “Kayleigh’s poop is a different color than usual, should I be worried?” entries?

Alright, it had more to do with laziness and exhaustion. It would have been wonderful to have a collection of posts detailing her daily changes to enjoy years from now. Instead I’ll just have to rely on The Woman’s journal and the 10,000 photos that were taken…

Expect some year end summaries to grace this site over the next few days. Maybe then I’ll be able to turn this into a regular pattern…

The day the (e)Music died

This post began as one with much lyrical prose attempting to explain how my methods of musical aquisitions have changed over the years. But that became tiring. And led to this not being posted for a week. Essentially I just want to rant about the recent changes over at eMusic. Changes that have me on the verge of cancelling my account after 5 years of membership.

For those unaware, eMusic is a subscription music service. But unlike streaming services from Napster or Rhapsody, you subscribe to get a certain number of downloads each month. Each download gets you one song. Why would you buy music in this method? Because it was freakin’ cheap. On my current plan I typically pay $2 per album. Of course the follow up question is how could they sell mp3s for so little? And that has 2 answers. First, it was primarily indie, classical, jazz, and international artists that don’t sell nearly as much as the major label acts. Second, well, apparently they couldn’t…

A week ago Sony became the first of the major labels to offer some of their catalog on eMusic. In celebration, eMusic raised their rates. Significantly. Now I have no problem admitting that their business model was probably threatened and that my 17 cent per song account could not last forever, but they managed to butcher the situation worse than just about anybody could imagine.

  • Even though the “announcement” of the changes was made at the end of May, not a single e-mail to subscribers was ever sent. The original letter from the CEO was actually posted to a blog that they refer to as “unofficial”.
  • That post only spoke about the introduction of the Sony catalog – it conveniently ignored that they had already begun to implement a massive overhaul of their pricing structure.
  • Sony… SONY?!?! They went with the most heinous of the 4 major labels? This company holds nothing but contempt for their customers and that’s who they go with? The company that saw nothing wrong with infecting their customers’ computers with malware?
  • Oh, and we won’t even get the latest from Sony. Just the stuff more than 2 years old that MOST OF US ALREADY OWN!
  • They don’t just end the grandfathering of old accounts (something they claimed they would never do) – they come up with a whole new set of them. My friends who were on smaller plans then me would actually be switched (assuming they didn’t cancel) to a better plan than I am allowed to chose.
  • A couple posts on the message board claimed that they were listening, but several important questions were ignored, which leads us to the biggest screwup:
  • Album-only tracks are introduced raising the costs of many albums to 12 based, not just on track length, but on popularity (that’s right – no cherry picking the good stuff from Bad or The Final Countdown). Despite several pleas from their subscribers to clarify the concept of album pricing before July, the eMusic PR person… well… lied. She said it meant a discount and never addressed the fears that some people had about 7 and 8 track albums suddenly costing 12 downloads. Which turned out to be correct.

Most of this is pretty meaningless outside of the eMusic message board, but that won’t stop me from ranting here. Fortunately they’re stuck giving me my old rate until February. But at that point I’ll see the cost of some 3 and 4 track jazz albums skyrocket from 50 cents to $5 (yes they needed a price increase – but not that much). Rather than downloading 8 or 9 albums a month, I’d only get 3 – for about the same price. I’m willing to accept a certain amount of change, but it is doubtful that they can rectify the botch job that was this Sony rollout enough to convince me to say. And that’s a little sad considering how much great music I’ve discovered over there these past few years thanks to the low cost of exploration.

Then again, after the loads of cheap and free music I’ve acquired over the last year in particular maybe it’s time for me to take a break from acquiring and focus on listening…