Parenting

Maddie Gains Starbucks Notoriety

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Does this look like a Starbucks to you?

Since Maddie was born six months ago, I have had more than my share of caffeinated beverages – but I really didn’t think I was drinking too much coffee. That foolish notion was shot down this afternoon when we walked in to the local Starbucks.

We were barley three steps through the door when heard a chorus of baristas greeting the baby – “Hellooo Madeleine!”

As we made our way to the counter, I could feel the eyes on Maddie as she basked in the glow of all the attention. She batted her eyes at each person behind the counter and they went nuts. “Oh she smiled at me!” “Ohh, she’s looking at me!”

You would have thought that Justin Bieber had just walked in and ordered a Shirley Temple Latte. I stood at the counter with Maddie strapped into the Bjorn as they peppered her with questions and compliments: “What did you do today Madeleine? Are you in a good mood? I love her smile. I want a baby!”

Hey now, keep it clean kids! Maddie’s dad was more than delighted to watch his baby girl’s impromptu press conference. At one point, they even managed to take his coffee order.

Things became even more entertaining when one the employees who had just come on got the word that Maddie was in the store. You could hear the whisper, “Look down there, Madeleine is here!”

By this time, Maddie had her bottom lip out and was done with all the adulation. This did not help to quiet the crowd, quite the opposite really.

“Oh look, she’s pouting – how cute is she?” They have still yet to hear one of the baby’s more potent temper tantrums. Maddie seemed especially annoyed that her fans were just as captivated by her frowns as they were by her smiles. Hey kid, fame is a fickle beast!

Maddie Gaming the System Like an Old Pro

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Like taking candy from an adult!

After sleeping straight through three nights in a row, Maddie had led her parents into uncharted territory. Maddie’s mom had a 5am flight out of Newark and was hoping for another good night’s sleep. However, the baby flipped the schedule right around 10:30pm.

She was sounding off and making it clear that taking sleep for granted is always a fruitless proposition. Maddie knows from personal experience that during the nighttime hours, sleeping in her crib is mandatory.

The only exception is when her Mom has to get up very early the next morning. DING-DING-DING! I have still yet to discover how Maddie knew that this was one of those evenings. I even had the house swept for listening devices, but nothing turned up.

As you might have guessed, when Maddie went off the rails, I had to hustle her upstairs so that her mom could get some sleep. Once we were upstairs, all the commotion suddenly died down. I knew my little girl was gaming me.

She was thinking, does he have the guts to take me back downstairs? Is he ready to take a shot at the title? I knew it was a setup – you could smell it a mile away. But I had to try. At this point, Maddie was snuggled in deeply sleeping in my arms, no chance that she might wake up. But with this little girl, there’s always the chance that she’s playing possum.

I made it down to the sixth step with her when I must have hit a trip wire, because I triggered Maddie’s sonic scream alarm. She was crying and howling like a wounded cat. I scampered back upstairs and it was like I threw a switch. All sins were forgiven and forgotten. Maddie was safe and warm in her father’s arms and that evil crib might as well have been set up in Kinshasa.

So yes, I folded – the baby spent the night sleeping on me. But the joke is really on her. Sleeping on me might not be good for household discipline and I may be exhausted the next morning, but watching her sleep will always be one of my favorite activities. Besides, Maddie figured out that her father was an easy mark a long time ago.

Empty Water Bottle Tops Baby’s Favorite Toy List

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Double the trouble!

We aren’t really the type of parents that pack the house full of toys for our six-month-old daughter Maddie. However, we did go on a little shopping trip this weekend looking for toys that would hold Maddie’s interest and maybe even help her sit up.

Besides Maddie’s tummy time mats, we have the bouncy chair with a full compliment of flashing lights, exotic birds and monkeys. We have a juicy little car dashboard that sports some over-exuberant domesticated animals. It also has a full compliment of sounds including a revving engine, a car horn that speaks Spanish and a gearshift that lets you fry the transmission by screeching your tires.

We even have a “Wonders of the Sea” boom box called the Tote-a-Tune Fishbowl! What’s not to love about this bad boy with its light-up bubbles, dirty little invertebrates, clicking clownfish and ten show-stopping tunes?

My personal favorite is our Mozart Cube that plays a variety of tunes, but you get to choose the instruments. Maddie is just fine with that one. Heck, to one degree or another, she likes them all.

But only one of them really does the trick for her. It’s actually pretty high on her Dad’s list as well. It’s the old washed up and empty water bottle. For anyone who has ever crunched a water bottle, you know what a satisfying crinkling and crunching noise it produces.

The very first time I crunched one in front of Maddie, she was hooked. Forget the fishbowl and let the monkeys wait, crushing and re-crushing a water bottle is an interesting process that you really have to take your time with.

Like Will Ferrell said in the movie Stepbrothers, “SO MANY ACTIVITIES!”

You can whack the counter with the empty bottle, fire it off the kitchen counter and even hit yourself in the headband with it. Just yesterday, Maddie helped me with the dishes by smacking a cup right into the sink with it. (GOAL!)

And the fun doesn’t stop there, the bottle makes a terrific snack, is great for teething and can even be used to inflict blunt force trauma against her father. It’s been almost two months now and the bottle is still Maddie’s top banana!

Some baby’s get hooked on blankets and cute little stuffed toys, but Maddie never stops thinking about the environment. She is cleaning up the planet by keeping plastic bottles out of the landfills and littered around our kitchen instead. Way to go Maddie!

Baby Triggers Shift in Sports Viewing Habits

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That was a terrible call, what did you think Maddie?

I have always been that jerky guy who keeps a running commentary going with the television while watching televised sports. I have long been guilty of praising, criticizing or hurling invectives at various athletes, teams, games officials and even commentators.

However, this little habit of mine has been undergoing a dramatic transformation thanks to Maddie, my stunning 6-month-old daughter. More and more, instead of taking the deafening verbal route, I’m keeping my comments to myself or making quick little noises to telepathically communicate with all of those blind sports officials and inept commentators.

There is a funny television commercial (link at the bottom) where a guy is watching a football game on his phone while having a romantic dinner with his significant other. When she accuses him of watching the game, he asks her, “What am I, some kind of summoner, who can just summon footage to his phone when he wants?”

As the commercial continues, the gentleman keeps a perfectly straight face but keeps reacting to the game with an oooh and a yesss!

This is very much the way Maddie’s father watches sports with her in the room now. When I make any noise, she snaps her attention over to me to see what I’m up to. Just like the guy in the commercial, I focus on Maddie so there is no evidence of any real emotion towards the television.

And when Maddie is sleeping on her Dad, sports must be watched with a Zen like serenity. No matter what malfeasance befalls my team or athlete, it is not worth waking up the baby. This reorganization of thought and actions is very foreign to me, but it is also strangely calming. Sporting events are actually much more enjoyable when you can put them into the proper perspective. This is yet another item on a long list of things I have to thank Maddie for.            

(- Click here to see the Summoner commercial -)

Tale of Survival: Taming the Talons of a Pterodactyl

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The purple is a really nice touch!

I have to admit that we have been remiss in cutting the baby’s fingernails. As a result, her tiny fingers have transformed into pterodactyl talons of death. One swipe of those razor sharp claws and you find yourself picking pieces of your small intestine up off the floor.

Needless to say, it was time for a trim! I had been waiting for Maddie to be in an exceptionally good mood before undertaking such a risky venture – and today was the day.

Our first attempt at nail cutting about a week ago ended in complete failure. Tending to the nails of your child with a spouse watching is not the way to go. This is a solo venture where coaching can have devastating results.

Just like Will Ferrell in the movie Stepbrothers, I decided to use Ninja breathing techniques and nail clipper camouflage to lull the baby into a false sense of security. The time to strike would be after the first feeding when my little girl was feeling the intoxicating effects of mother’s milk. I put a couch cushion on my lap and then gently laid Maddie down on top. Sure enough, the little girl was starting to fade.

As her eyes got heavy, I employed the old “I want to hold your hand” approach and luckily, she fell for it! Clippers appeared in a flash and suddenly her middle talon fell harmlessly to the couch. Seize the initiative – we knocked the pinkie and the ring finger nail next when Maddie realized that I was up to no good.

I had already dropped the clippers as she eyed me suspiciously. Nothing to see here little one – just the innocent eyes of your PaPa shining with love! Phewww – that was a close one!

Maddie slipped back into dreamland as I eyed the ultimate prize of the set – the thumbnail of death, actually judged to be sharper than concertina wire! I went in for a better grip, but the nail refused to give. It was a life and death struggle – man versus claw – it slashed at me, tearing my clothes, but I refused to yield. Suddenly with a snip, it was over. Sayonara you sick twisted nail!

The fingernails on the other hand went just like the first one, but I will leave that up to your imagination!

You Will Respect My Authoritah!

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Sir, step out of the car please!

Mad Maddie went on the warpath Tuesday and woe unto anyone who fell into her crosshairs. (Like her mom and dad)

We labored all day to try and uncover what might be troubling Madeleine.

Was she grappling with a growth spurt?

Was it the hurricane that skipped through?

Is she angry that I went to the U.S. Open yesterday without her?

Whatever the reason – she’s wound up tight and Mom and Dad have been on the business end of Maddie all day long. No matter how much attention she gets – it’s only been enough to satisfy her during short spurts. There’s been a great deal of screaming, sprinkled in with a healthy dose of unrest and overall fussiness.

Her behavior has been eerily reminiscent of South Park’s Eric Cartman after Officer Barbrady deputized him in the Chickenlover episode during season two.

Cartman (pictured above) spends the day patrolling the streets of South Park from the back of his Big Wheel and terrorizing unsuspecting motorists. Cartman is in the middle of one of his traffic stops when the driver smarts off and tells him, “Hey, you’re just a kid!”

Cartman viciously beats him with his Tonfa police baton screaming, “Maybe this will teach you to listen to Authoritah!” Loosely translated, Authoritah means authority.

Even though Maddie is only four weeks old and can’t speak just yet, her screams through out the day made it perfectly clear – that we must respect her Authoritah! At one point, I did get her to crash on my chest for a couple of hours – but for the most part – she spent the day fed up with all of our efforts.

All we can do is put Tuesday behind us and drop one more quote from Cartman.

Eric Cartman: “Independent films are those black and white hippy movies. They’re always about gay cowboys eating pudding.”

The Crazy Life of Maddie’s Feet

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These feet yearn to be free!

I never thought of feet as very expressive, but Maddie has been instrumental in showing me the error of my ways. Her feet do an amazing job of conveying every emotion whether it’s absolute outrage, complete satisfaction or pending trepidation.

Every toe seemingly has a mind of its own – attached to legs that only stop churning when it’s time to eat. When mealtime arrives – the feet freeze into an intense rigor along with her legs. All the toes curl up and lock down until her hunger has been abated.

The big toes often take off on their own missions leaving the rest of the toes to fend for themselves.

 

Big toes curl up – curl in – and can pivot off in any direction without warning. They are not webbed feet, like Michael Phelps – but they strong and full of purpose.

 

You would think that sleep might put those feet to rest – but it barely slows them down at all. No matter how tight the swaddle or deep the blanket – those feet and toes always find a way to punch through and gain access to the outside world.

 

But the greatest threat posed by these thundering hooves is during the diaper change. Failing to secure them properly can have unfortunate consequences including a foot into the magic diaper or a forced fumble of changing materials. 

 

I can only assume that if Maddie chooses to become an athlete – her footwork will be nothing short of impeccable. She might even be tempted to try a sport like tennis – Wouldn’t that be something?