Hands & Feet

Baby Girl is the Last Action Hero

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Say hello to my little friend!

My wife and I have decided to take a full set of self-defense courses to meet the threat presented by my 7-month-old bundle of joy named Madeleine. Apparently spending day after day with dear old dad is making Maddie a little rough around the edges. We are working on toning things down, but it’s still a work in progress.

We have a few areas of concern, but so far the greatest threat to Maddie is some her hard surfaced toys. She swings them with real authority, but with no concern for her own well-being. She gave herself two powerful whacks in the face today. This might be due to the fact that she’s been wearing a protective helmet for the past couple of months. So right now, her little noggin is taking a beating.

Maddie also loves the soft skin on both of her parent’s necks. She digs into the skin with those tiny fingers and gives it a mighty pull. As you might imagine, between her sturdy little grip and sharpened talons of death, she is leaving behind a trail of destruction.

The baby also has a real affinity for anything that looks like a string or chord including human hair. This causes severe hair pulling issues for my wife and has caused me to leave behind a fair amount of chest hair. If she spies the slightest trace of hair near the top of my shirt, she latches onto it and does her best to make it her own.

But the greatest challenge I face as the stay-at-home parent is her wild kicking legs. When she wakes up from a nap, I can actually hear her double-kicking the mattress with all of her might. Her kicks are so powerful that they actually lift her in the air and echo throughout the house.

These kicking feet are especially interesting during diaper changes and feeding time. I’ll leave it to your imagination the impact these kicks have during a diaper change. And the kicking is not really a problem during feeding time. That is as long as you use some sort of cushion on your lap. Without the proper protection, a lucky hit could ensure that Maddie never has any brothers or sisters.

This isn’t to say that Maddie isn’t one of the sweetest children known to mankind, she just likes to mix things up and always keep them interesting.

Baby Runs Roughshod over Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

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Hide the children!

Maddie must have sensed that her mother had an early morning flight because she on the warpath all night long. Even her full blown rock out session from 3am to 4am, didn’t stop the baby from picking up where she left off at 6:15 am. For some reason, a twisted and dark version of the theme song from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood kept playing over and over in my head.

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood

Bleary-eyed and staggered, Stay Home PaPa took a deep breath, scooped up Maddie and prepared to face whatever this special day had to offer. Things started off with one of those diaper changes gone wrong. The old diaper was disposed of and the new one was coming on when Maddie opened up Hoover Dam and let the love flow.

A beautiful day for a neighbor

Not fun, but not really the end of the world either. Jump ahead about three minutes to our first morning bottle. The baby starts crying – I take the bottle away and she starts screaming. I give the bottle back, more crying – I take it away and another tantrum ensues. OK – we have a bad tummy, let’s slow down and switch to the pacifier. I gently move the pacifier toward her mouth when little Dwight Howard throws a full fury block knocking away the pacifier and sending it skittering across the floor.

Would you be mine?

Things are really heating up now and Maddie is getting more and more worked up. I hear some fireworks emanating from her britches, so it’s time for another diaper change. We have a cosmic mess on our hands and Maddie is not impressed with the efficiency of my cleanup efforts. She is kicking furiously and manages to knock the dirty diaper off of the table. Oh, is that for me? Fantastic! I know, let’s head back for another feeding attempt.

Could you be mine?

Two minutes into the feeding, milk begins squirting out of the bottom of the bottle all over both of us. A defective bottle – time to make a quick switch. Maddie cannot fathom the incompetence of her father and really lets him have it. Working one-handed with Maddie in my right arm, I spill more than half the milk during the bottle transition and now we need a new bottle. As it heats up, I call on my close friends Mountain Dew and Motrin to meet the Maddie challenge.

Won’t you please…

Four minutes later, the fresh bottle is inches from Maddie’s lips when little Chukita Norris delivers her coup de grace, lashing out with a roundhouse kick and sending the bottle flying to the floor, nipple first. The clock on the microwave is mocking me, “It’s not even 7am yet – Good morning neighbor!”

Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Diaper Change Triggers Honey Badger Attack

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Get ready to rumble!

In recent weeks, the whole concept of clothes and diaper changes has fallen out of favor with our little honey badger. Maddie’s legendary kicking has only intensified and now diaper changes and wardrobe switches have devolved into a messy street fight. The ultimate problem is that Maddie does not like to be messed with and is rarely shy about sharing her stronger opinions.

Let’s start with the diaper change chronicles and figure out what’s been going on up until today. The problem really hasn’t been taking off the diaper; the challenge has been trying to put on a new one.

This in itself was not a terrible issue to have, just a bit time consuming. Once the diaper comes off and the clean up is finished – most of the hard work is done. But the simple task of putting on the new diaper has been a bit complicated.

The wild kicks have been causing some concern because those wild feet have been finding there way off of the changing mat and crashing into the hard wood of the table. (OUCH!) Maddie doesn’t seem to mind, but I still cringe every time it happens.

Another issue is when the baby kicks the diaper. I don’t mind having a clean diaper kicked out of my hand, but when it’s full a special treats, that’s another issue altogether. Also, trying to fasten the new diaper while Maddie is flailing away like a steel cage fighter in the heat of battle has its drawbacks.

These little tricks were really no big deal until today when things may have taken a terrifying turn for the worst. I hope it was only a fluke, but on two separate occasions, Maddie grasped the fastener on her dirty diapers and ripped it open herself.

Neither one of these incidents caused a great deal of disruption, but the specter of true carnage is hanging over my head like the Sword of Damocles. I’m counting on the fact that these were isolated incidents. If Maddie has truly figured out how to release the fury all by herself, her parents are in for a special round of enjoyment.

Bottle Runs Dry, Baby Eats Foot

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If only I had a tooth!

When times get tough the tough get going. This morning when Maddie’s bottle ran dry, she didn’t shed any tears, she just hunted down and snagged an alternative food source.

She had been eyeing those toes for several days now and it was only a matter of time before my little predator leapt into action.

Maddie was clearly on the hunt today, every sense on razor’s edge as the sun crept up casting flecks of vermillion across the brightening morning sky.

The baby caught just the faintest scent of her prey and knew those succulent little feet couldn’t be too far off. She moved against the wind meshing with the lazily tilting grass so the toes would be caught completely off guard.

The feet were getting restless now as if they could sense that something was amiss. One toe scanned the horizon and stopped for a moment on the nearby outcropping of tall grass. Maddie froze, not daring to twitch a muscle. Satisfied that nothing was out of the ordinary, both feet settled down.

The baby needed no engraved invitation – she grasped the unsuspecting foot before it knew what happened. Her gnashing gums worked the big toe, providing no sustenance what-so-ever. The mighty hunter pondered her conquest and was beginning to wonder why her own toes were covered with baby saliva. She finally let the wild foot go, but her smile sent a clear message, “This isn’t over!”

Maddie’s Socks – Gone in 60 Seconds!

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Ready to unleash my sock and awe campaign

Maddie and her parents have been going toe to toe (that’s right) for several months now in the never ending battle to keep socks on the baby’s feet. Maddie is barely 5-months-old, yet we have been struggling to keep socks on her for about four of those months.

My little girl has perfected her sock disposal techniques into a true art form. Just as Brad Pitt became the master fly fisherman in Robert Redford‘s classic, “A River Runs Through It,” Maddie has mastered the art of sock-punching!

There I said it – my daughter is a sock-puncher. If the baby is awake – no pair of socks is safe on those wild feet for any length of time. Back when she was an amateur, she would shake and kick until they would eventually fall off.

Those days are long gone. Now, Maddie uses one foot to aid and abet the other in an effort to shrug off the offending sock within 60 seconds. When we visited Maddie’s grandparents during the holidays, we were constantly on the lookout for discarded socks around the house.

Sure we tried to outsmart the baby – we went out and purchased longer socks to thwart the baby’s best attempts to knock the socks off. It turns out that the longer socks are easier to knock off than the short ones.

I suppose we could just let the baby hang out with no socks on, but her feet get cold, so that is obviously not a viable option. I like to tuck them into the baby’s pants, but my wife has repeatedly cautioned me about such a fashion faux pas.

Suffice it say that we have given ourselves up to fate. We will continue the exhaustive sock “search and rescue” efforts until some company develops a baby sock with just a kiss of elastic in them. Until then, Maddie will delight in her parent’s fruitless attempts to keep those perpetual feet under cover.

Diaper Change Goes to the Dogs

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Never let your guard down!

Once again the baby got the drop on her PaPa during a particularly adventurous diaper change. The changing had been a complicated and messy affair, but it appeared that the worst of it was behind me.

The clean up was all but finished when I was reaching for a new diaper. That’s when Maddie let out a delighted gurgle and her legs shot straight up in the air. I thought she was just being cute, but I was way off base. While admiring Maddie’s awkward yoga moves and looking at her elevated feet – I was momentarily distracted from what going on down below.

In less than three seconds, the baby had unleashed a gusher of the bad stuff. The second I saw it, she slammed both of her feet down into the new pocket of sewage. (Stay calm, shields up!) I reached for her feet a second too late as they both shot straight up again. (Houston, we have a problem) She grabbed at her poopy feet with both hands. (I shall fear no evil)

Question – Where does a baby automatically put their hands after every new tactile sensation? In their mouth of course! I realize I have about a second before Maddie gets a taste of her own toxic medicine. I pin both of her arms with my right arm as I am using my mouth and left hand to gather critical paper towel reinforcements.

Maddie is completely delighted with all the carnage unfolding around her. She’s smiling and carefully observing as I am scrubbing her nasty paws down with wet paper towels. Once her hands are clean, I notice that my little artist has also decorated the wall with a poopy footprint.

Next up, time for little foot cleansing. Thank God for my secret stash of cloth diapers. Between those and the paper towels, I managed to clean the baby, the diaper staging area and the newly minted wall. It was only then that I realized that the war had left its mark on me as well. I finally got myself cleaned up before Maddie and continued her EPA scrub down operations in the baby tub.

Unlike our poop storm in the mall last week – Maddie found this entire fiasco very entertaining and looks forward to our next poop wars encounter.

Beware the Baby’s Thundering Hooves

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You never know where the next hoof might land!

It’s too early to tell if Maddie has been blessed or cursed with her thunder thighs, but what’s become painfully apparent in the last week is that they pack an amazing punch. Her thighs have transformed those cute little feet into thundering hooves that leave widespread devastation in their wake.

It’s not so much the kicks that are causing the problems, but the stamp down that seems to come at the end of the kick. It seems obvious now that Maddie is not interested in sharing the house with any siblings. No matter what position I feed her in now, her sledge hammer feet keep finding the mark on my private parts. Maddie might have deduced that if the family jewels are crushed – she will be the center of attention for the next 18 years.

The baby’s foot impacts the groin area very similar to the way a doctor wields the reflex hammer against the knee. It’s a sharp blow and accurate blow that is so well-placed that PaPa is forced to suspend each feeding to try and catch his breath and regroup.

Another area impacted by the baby’s hoof is the diaper change. The second the diaper comes off, one of her feet races down expertly burying itself in the poop area. We are now going through at least two to three pairs of socks a day, because socks and poop are not a good match.

Even if you maintain a vise-like grip on her ankles,  those legs are spring-loaded and her foot seeks out the messiest area like a predator drone hunting for a convoy of terrorists. Maddie stamped so hard this afternoon that the pacifier actually flew out of her mouth. I decided to look for it later because I was still prying off the nasty sock. When I looked up, the baby was smiling and the pacifier was actually lying right there on her forehead.

I can hardly wait to see what her kick/stomp will be like when she’s one-year-old!

Baby Trades in Feeding Time for Mortal Kombat

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Finish him!

It’s staggering how fast Maddie’s eating habits can change in just two days. The baby still can’t hold her own bottle, but she’s all over that thing like a spider monkey.

With all the excitement around eating time, Maddie is gripping, clawing, swatting and pulling anything within reach. Nothing is out of bounds including her face, the feeder’s face and of course the bottle itself. This makes the feeding process into a Mortal Kombat simulation where one must be ready to counter her fatal thrusts at any time.

After a scratch to the arm or the bottle is knocked loose from your hand, Maddie senses that her foe is on the ropes and prepares for her kill shot. Now the hunter has become the hunted as she lets out her stinging battle cry of, “FINISH HIM!”

For now, the trick to a successful feeding is being able to gently restrain the hands while comfortably getting the bottle into her mouth. Letting the hands roam free mostly leads to her smacking herself in the face or jamming the bottle too deeply into her mouth.

Maddie has determined that trying to free her hands while eating is an absolute laugh riot. I hate to admit it – but we both are getting far too much entertainment out of this hand-to-hand combat. There’s no keeping score and it does stretch eating time out a little bit, but it takes a sometime mundane chore and turns it into a goofy contest.

I’m sure all the fun and games will be over in a week or so, but for now, getting the baby to put away her entire bottle is quickly becoming the ultimate conquest!

Baby Sports Thundering Right, Skillful Left

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And they taste good!

As new parents, we spend a great deal of time wondering what comes next as our baby girl continues to develop various skills and acquire new ones. Of course it’s far too early in the game to determine whether Maddie will be right or left-handed, but trying to predict which hand will become dominant has become great sport in our household.

First, let’s talk about Maddie’s right hand, quickly becoming known as the pile driver. This mitt is always out for justice. It punches through blankets, swaddles and quite possibly brick walls. It is not to be trifled with, especially during feeding time or a diaper change. During a typical day, you have to go the mat with this hand no less than four or five times.

Maddie has been known to swat your hand away in the middle of a diaper change or actually knock the bottle out of your hand during a feeding. She’s like a linebacker who takes that swipe at the ball rather than tackle the quarterback.

The left hand is a different story altogether, it’s really the brains behind the operation. It’s always on the move, but unlike the right hand, it always seems to have a sense of purpose. Maddie’s left is always probing, exploring and manipulating whatever it can get a hold of. The left hand also seems to exhibit a stronger grip than the bludgeoning right.

There also seems to be some amount of thought or possibly even intent behind the actions of the left hand. The right hand is still more of a flailing appendage that is still trying to find its way.

So when it comes to hands, is it the brawler (right) or the philosopher (left) which is more likely to become Maddie’s hand of choice? As I said earlier, it’s too early to say for sure, but it’s very interesting to watch the process unfold before us.

It is true that a baby might show preference for one hand or the other as early as 6 months old. But despite these early indications, data further suggests that a true right or left-handed domination won’t actually establish itself until the child is at least 2 to 3 years old.

Can Someone Please Give Maddie a Hand?

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I can't get enough of these wonderful hands!

To tell the truth, Maddie would be absolutely thrilled if you would be interested in sharing one of your hands with her. As far as she is concerned, hands are all the rage right now. She discovered her hands about four days ago and since then, she can’t get enough of them.

When Maddie is not distracted by something else, like her crazy parents or a bottle packed with the good stuff, she falls under the spell of her very own hands. Forget the toys, the bouncy chairs and the baths – the baby needs time alone with her hands and fingers. I’m not even really sure if she has figured out that her hands actually belong to her yet. She stares at them and shares secrets with them. All of this despite the fact that they continue to ignore her taunts and advances.

If I were Maddie, I would be angry at her little hands. (That’s right) They smack her in the head at least twice a day and lately they have even left little scratches all over her face. But Maddie doesn’t seem to care; she still believes that she is in good hands, no matter who they belong to or what they inadvertently do to her.

She also finds that her hands are a terrific snack. Maddie still isn’t into solid food, but I know the first time she is able to order in a restaurant, she’s going for either the finger platter or some nice broiled handchops.

She often tries to fit both of them into her mouth at the same time, but somehow that never really seems to work out. However, since she has begun the gumming process on them, you always count on at least one hand, if not both, being completely covered in baby saliva. (Yummy!)

Maddie is also really beginning to enjoy the various tactile sensations evoked by hand-to-hand contact. When she’s not dining on them or staring at them, she is poking and prodding her very own hands, trying to unlock the secret of the phalanges.

You can try and get involved in the process with Maddie, but all that she will do is put you in the mercy grip until your finger or fingers turn completely blue. She has a great little grip, but she is always anxious to get back to her own fingers. She is bound and determined to find out who put them there and what purpose they might serve.