Today was an unusual day as I got to enjoy the many faces of Maddie in a rapid-fire succession. She went from euphoric to angry to unmanageable and back again all in less than two hours. To be fair though, Maddie is almost 8-months-old and has more than enough on her plate right now.
She’s dealing with a daily assortment of new foods being introduced to her, there are some teething issues, her new found ability to standup and the frustrating talent of zipping backwards when she wants to move forward. Couple this shopping list with the fact that she’s a bit on the impatient side and we have a full menu of possibilities.
Maddie woke up on the right side of the crib this morning, even it did happen just before 5am. She went right to town on breakfast and was in the perfect mood. The baby was playful, full of wonder and ready for a little outdoor time. We got out early and took a brisk walk into this stunningly warm Jersey weather.
She delighted passersby across Jersey City with a smile that lit up the Hudson River along with the rising sun. Each feeding and nap was met with good-natured cheer and enthusiasm. That is until the 1:30 bottle-feeding.
This is when the wagon slid off the rails so to speak. Right at the beginning of the bottle, Maddie flipped the script. Suddenly she was troubled, angry and had no interest in being held at all. This is when I started trying out a variety of possible remedies to help stifle this 0-60 mood shift. Tummy time worked for a while and so did some quiet time in the crib. But these fixes were only temporary.
After about 30 minutes, I tried to feed her again with mixed results. At least she drank something on this go around. Then we struggled with the possibility of another nap, but Maddie finally relented.
When she woke up this time, it was if nothing negative had ever happened. She picked right back up with the good mood she had presented first thing in the morning. Based on her wakeup diaper change, I deduced that she had a bad tummy earlier and just wanted to be left alone to work through it.
When it comes to Maddie, these changes are lightning-quick so you have ready for carnage or love at a moments notice.
It was a contest of epic proportions – man versus stroller in a winner take all grudge match. I tasked my neighbor to bring in Maddie’s stroller and the sparks began to fly. Foul words were spoken as the tempestuous contraption put the screws to my friend who was only trying to help. It seems no good deed goes unpunished in Jersey City.
It all began with Maddie’s typical outdoor time. The weather was noticeably colder so we grabbed an extra blanket to go along with that fresh Jersey air. We hit the local Starbucks in a flash and were already headed home when I saw that Madeleine had fallen sound asleep in her stroller. This is despite the fact that she had only been awake less than 90 minutes.
As I got closer to home, the quandary loomed larger than the Statue of Liberty. How would I get the sleeping baby up to her crib and secure the stroller at the same time. You can’t leave anything outside in Jersey City and expect it be there when you get back. I decided on an unorthodox approach and called my neighbor for backup. I asked him to round up the stroller for me while I ran Maddie upstairs into the house. She could keep sleeping and the stroller would not end up in some back room pawnshop traded in for crack money.
I showed my neighbor the pull cord that allows the stroller to go flat and headed upstairs with sleeping beauty. I laid the sleeping angel in the crib and quick-stepped it downstairs to see how my neighbor was faring with the stroller. What I saw next was priceless. The image of a grown man literally wrestling with the baby buggy will be seared into my memory for months to come.
If the stroller was a deadly python, it was surely getting the best of my poor desperate friend. I watched for a moment as pushed it, prodded and maybe even took a swing at it. He even lifted it off the ground in a WWE move that I thought would signal the end of my baby’s ride.
Finally, I had to put an end to this conflict before someone got really hurt. I thanked him for his efforts as I corralled the man-eating stroller. He said WAIT, I want to see how you do this! I pulled the cord (printed with the word PULL) and the stroller obediently snapped into a flat and easy to carry package.
The afternoon was a success, Maddie got the nap she so desperately needed and I was witness to a performance for the ages.
Our daily walk to Starbucks got sidetracked this afternoon by characters from some travesty of a television show called Jersey Shore. Snoopy and BowWow or some such nonsensical people have moved into our neighborhood and are already causing traffic headaches for cars and pedestrians alike.
Maddie and her dad had been running errands all day and our reward was to stop in and see her barista friends at Starbucks. We were hurrying along and not really paying attention to our surroundings when we ran into some police and camera crews. We marched around them but got caught up in a dead end of bicycle barricades with a growing crowd behind them.
Uh oh – Maddie gave me the look that said, “What’s the hold up, Stay Home PaPa?”
It dawned on me that this gathering must be for the Jersey Shore people who have now invaded Jersey City. Maddie gave the female police officer a wink and I shared one of my favorite movie quotes from the movie the Blues Brothers: “Use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Jersey Shore cast members has been approved.”
The officer got a real kick out of that one as her radio chirped that more officers were on the way.
Due the lateness of the hour and growing fervor around the arrival of the soon-to-be-intoxicated Jersey Shore wingdings, we decided to skip the coffee and head home for some corn, sweet potatoes and apples mix.
It’s amazing to me that even though we don’t let Maddie watch television, she’s already been exposed to the high-class quality programming that reality television has to offer. Maybe tomorrow we will pop into New York City and see if we can hang with some skanky Bravo Housewives.
Almost a week after Maddie’s 2-month vaccination ordeal – her appetite is finally coming around again. But her newfound hunger has come with a loud and painful price – a new and exciting screaming and crying bug.
I pulled out all stops and tried everything I could to tame the Mad Madster – but all of my efforts were fruitless. As the day wore on, I could feel all of the energy being sucked out of my body. Every time I almost coaxed her to sleep, she would come on like a wolverine squealing and protesting my feeble efforts.
I already consider myself cosmically blessed that Maddie has always been so sweet and agreeable during the day – but today was a whole new experience.
The pattern evolved like this:
- Desperation eating
- Hour of happiness
- Hour of carnage
The entire morning and afternoon devolved into a contest of wills – I desperately wanted a nap, but Maddie was committed to crying and screaming. This scenario repeated itself throughout the day, which left both of us completely drained.
Maddie and I finally made our way outside for some fresh air, but we ran into some unexpected and unwelcome trouble. A group of idiot protesters were acting like fools in front of the Starbucks and their negative energy woke up the baby and got her upset all over again. I asked the Jersey City Police to crack some heads and shut them up, but I don’t think that fits into their job description. Too bad!
We met Gina at the Path station and made our way home with a very unhappy baby. We fed her as soon as we walked in the door, but about an hour later, Maddie went back on the warpath. After about 20 minutes of anger and fussiness, Maddie’s mom came up with a brilliant solution to our problem.
She told me to cook up a mini-bottle of just two ounces. Maddie sucked it down and for the first time all day, the baby seemed completely satisfied. We put her in the swing and she finally got some real quality sleep. (4 hours worth)
Looks like Maddie just needed some extra vittles – too bad that Stay Home PaPa is a little slow on the draw and thank god her Momma has all the brains!
With the temperature hanging in the mid-fifties – it was another day to bundle up the little bean, if Uncle Jason, Gina and John were going to enjoy a nice outdoor lunch. So we got Maddie all decked out with her windbreaker, leggings and some sweet thick socks.
Maddie’s windbreaker was a wee bit too big – even for her prominent noggin. Her little face kept disappearing into the hood as if it were in a giant bucket and she was quickly growing tired of these antics. To avoid any type of confrontation, I folded the hood back over her forehead and she immediately took on the appearance of the Gorton’s fish stick guy. Of course she was missing the Alec Baldwin beard and stache – but she really looked like a little girl who was ready to tackle the sea!
We loaded her onto her trawler-like buggy and cast off for Marco & PePe’s in Jersey City. The sidewalks were rough and a stiff breeze out of the north slowed our progress – but finally we got ourselves situated outside and we were ready for some grub from the galley.
It took only moments to realize that the mid-fifties indicated by the thermometer didn’t really count if you were sheltered from the wind and sitting in the direct sunlight. The sun was baking the back of my neck and we all realized that Maddie had to shed the commodore’s look before she became a baked bean.
This is easier said than done, as I had to unstrap Maddie and pull her out of the buggy in extremely close quarters. The good news is that the little girl thought all this activity was a hoot. First we rescued her from deep-sea slicker – good-bye Captain Gorton – and then we peeled off her Flash-Dance leggings.
It was all going so well until I realized that one of straps on the stroller had become unthreaded. I tried to thread it back through, but there was a little leg kicking against my arm every time I tried to patch the strap through. I have to give her credit; my little girl sports a real spirited sense of humor.
Finally, Momma had to take the baby so I could complete the task that took all of about 15 seconds without the assistance of Daddy’s little helper. Maddie really enjoyed the company of her Uncle Jason and is looking forward to meeting all of her aunts and uncles back at home later this afternoon – it’s just a shame that they won’t be able to enjoy her sporty deep sea look.
Call it a lapse in judgment due to sleep deprivation or just plain stupidity – but Gina and Stay Home PaPa were enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with the baby on the banks of the Hudson River when we realized that time had somehow gotten away from us.
It was 3:24pm!! Only six minutes before Maddie’s eyes would flutter open and she would be looking earnestly for a bottle of baby growing goodness. The only problem is that we were more than 20 minutes from home with nothing but rough sidewalks and train tracks ahead.
Who doesn’t love a challenge? It was our family version of the Amazing Race through Jersey City and our competition was our daughter’s empty belly.
Maddie’s stomach has already received universal accolades for its startling ability to keep track of time – and we could only hope that this Sunday afternoon would be the exception.
The race is on! We took off at a half walk – half jog with delusions of victory dancing in our heads. We raced south, but trouble was already emanating from the stroller. This trio of racers rounded the first corner near Exchange Place just before 3:30pm and Maddie picked right up on the fact that no one was making any efforts to feed her.
Our first obstacle was the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail crossing– a treacherous stretch of rumbling train tracks sure to induce a hunger filled tantrum! We went rumbling, bumbling and stumbling across the tracks and incurred our first penalty of the race. During the crossing, Maddie chirped out a protest but the little angel was willing to grant some leeway. We are now on notice and the clock is ticking.
We are making good time – but Maddie decides that enough is enough and stages her first howling protest. Fair enough – time to stop and mollify our lion cub. A few reassuring words and the strategic placement of a pacifier and the race is back on track.
Race obstacle #2: Do we take an unknown shortcut to Grand Street? Heck – roll the dice. The short cut is a success – but the baby’s stomach is grumbling! We finally make it home and you know who’s waiting for us – Phil Keoghan, the host of the Amazing Race.
He solemnly tells us: “Gina, John – I’m sorry but you are the last racers to arrive and you have been eliminated. You did not get the baby back in time for her feeding – What were you thinking?”
Maddie seems equally disappointed as her look seems to say, “We’ll address this little adventure later, for right now, FEED ME!”
Researchers often talk about the correlation between music and brain development. The theory is that playing music for babies stimulates brain development by promoting the increased development of neural synapses. (Building up brain cell connections) The idea is that the more brain cell connections a baby develops – the faster they will be able to grasp language and motor skills.
We introduced Maddie to a wide variety of music, but she showed very little interest in any of it. We tried the classical route, some mellow stuff and even a little bit of progressive, but each time, our little girl turned up her nose. However, this week, we had found something she really liked – country music.
Ha, I can hear the moans and groans now – but Maddie lights up when the country starts playing. She starts cracking little smiles and you can tell she wants to join in. Of course, I would be lying if I said that Gina and I don’t chime in to help these country singers belt it out. Let’s be honest, Maddie seems grateful for the additional melodious voices of her parents.
It’s probably likely that Maddie is drawn more to the sound of the voices singing than the actual genre, but imagine a Jersey City girl introducing her classmates to Tim McGraw and Phil Vassar.
Who knows, maybe Maddie will give Taylor Swift a run for her money as soon as she learns how to talk and sing. The CMA awards may have to wait until next year, but Maddie knows that when it comes to country music, “It’s Just Another Day is Paradise!”
Well, it’s ok. It’s so nice
It’s just another day in paradise
Well, there’s no place that
I’d rather be
Well, it’s two hearts
And one dream
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
And I ask the Lord every night
For just another day in paradise – Phil Vassar
Monday was Stay Home PaPa’s first solo campaign with Maddie and to quote the movie Good Will Hunting – the little girl was chalk full of shenanigans, tomfoolery and ballyhoo.
Things kicked off quietly with a little nap after the 5am feeding and the world was our oyster. But feeding number two at 9am was not quite so seamless.
The first challenge was that the baby’s normal four ounces suddenly became woefully inadequate. Maddie downed her normal meal and was screaming for more within seconds of the last swallow. Am I missing something? OK, I’ll heat up two more ounces and we’ll go from there. Little did I know that this was just the intro to the triple play delight she had planned for PaPa.
Once we were done feeding, we retired to the back room for a diaper change. The process was nearly completed when Maddie pulled a classic diversionary tactic. A little bit of spit up was all it took for Dad to really take his eye off the ball. I was wiping her mouth when the poop actually started flying. Whoops, time to fall back and regroup.
We were successfully meeting the first challenge when Maddie spit up all over her new shirt. (Maybe that extra two ounces was mistake?) No problem, the shirt came off, the poop had been captured and I was still holding my own.
But before I could start patting myself of the back – Maddie had one more card to play. That’s right, not a trickle, but a full-blown urine session. Due to the other incidents, we were in between diapers, papers towels and whatever else usually protects us from danger. Maddie and Daddy were treated to an impromptu loving liquid session that sent both of us to the HAZMAT showers early.