Escape From New York Redux

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Maddie gets taste of New York City hospitality

Maddie and her father had business across the Hudson River in the city that always reeks – the rotten apple known as New York City. A place where common sense is unheard of and manners have long since been forgotten.

This would be Maddie’s first trip into the city and first experience through the glorious Lincoln Tunnel. Even at 1030 in the morning – it was obvious that the brain surgeons would be battling for pole position even if their top speed was only about 12mph. Smart!

Maddie and PaPa finally emerged from the tube amid the blaring horns and angry drivers. We turned onto 40th only to watch some cop tearing down the road going the wrong way in reverse – even the cops are crazy in Nuevo York. Maddie was showing a great deal of patience – but I got the feeling she could sense the anger in the air.

Our plan was to cut across town past Bryant Park – but of course – that prominent cross street was shut down for some magical reason – so we headed up 6th Avenue. This when I heard on the radio that the New York City police chief had been bragging that his counter terrorism unit could shoot down a jet liner (Remind me not to fly out of JFK ever again)

Anyway – we finally made our way to Park Avenue when we got pinned behind two cab drivers fighting with each other while blocking not only the right lane, but the center lane as well.

Meanwhile, Maddie was starting to lose it and our mission to deliver her Mom’s pumping equipment was starting to unravel. We finally made our delivery, but all the westbound cross streets were jammed. However, this gave me the vital time needed to calm Maddie and escape from New York.

I hauled Maddie down to our secret Lincoln Tunnel entrance and finally got us out of Comedy Central – but not before a friendly truck driver flipped us off for not letting him cut us off.

Just like Jay-Z says in his silly little song: “Concrete jungle that nightmares are made of!”

Amazing Race – Jersey City Style

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A stunning contest through the streets of Jersey City

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!”

Growth Spurt Done for Now – Cub Needs Extra Sleep

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I can barely keep my eyes open!

After about a ten-day growth spurt – Our little lion cub is warn out. The panicked starvation bug plaguing Maddie has been replaced by a disjointed fatigue.

Little Maddie actually seems quite tired but is going back and forth between perfect sleep and restlessness. The baby turned 8-weeks-old on Friday and celebrated the night before by treating her parents to an all night fiesta.

However, her recent bout of sleepiness has come with something unexpected – one of funniest and cutes noises ever heard by human ears.

Maddie has developed a little snore that sounds more like the soft purr of a little lion cub. It’s a very soothing noise and it’s almost impossible to stay awake when you are within earshot, especially if she’s sleeping on your chest.

Of course this brings to light the question of whether or not lions can actually purr. First, despite the fact that Maddie is a Leo, I am relatively certain she is not actually purring when she makes those grand noises. Second, there seems to be a great deal of confusion and debate on the question about big cats and their ability to purr.

After reading multiple sources, I decided to cop out and go with the National Wildlife Federation that insists that large cats such as lions, tigers and jaguars can roar, but are not physically able to purr. These cats can make noises similar to purring, but it’s just a put on.

There is of course on exception to the big cat rule and that is in the cheetah family. These speedy cats can purr – but sadly for them, they cannot roar.

What Can a Smile Do for You?

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What else is there to say?

As we celebrate Maddie’s 8th week on the planet – there are several things to be grateful for, but today we will focus in on one of Maddie’s newest skills – her smile.

It was about three days ago when Maddie began rewarding those who pleased her with a smile. On the surface, it seemed like a trivial event – but in reality, it is actually a game changer.

This is a pivotal point in your relationship with your child. For the first time – the parent is receiving a positive cognitive signal of understanding and acceptance that goes beyond what had been the child’s survival needs. The smile strikes of significance and resonates with the parent because it is an intentional act by the baby and you feel specially blessed to be the sole recipient.

The emotions that go along with this event are dizzying. Especially when you have a little girl that is so seemingly desperate to communicate her thoughts. For right now, aside from the crying – her smile is the most powerful tool in her arsenal.

My world stops on that smile. Time is suspended as you soak it in like the rays of the sun on your face. Your cheeks flush and you don’t bother to ponder what has suddenly taken hold of you – you just ride it out until it’s over.

I don’t know if the smile is actually a key component passed down into the human code for acceptance into the tribe – but I will always remember the first moment it was directed towards me and how it makes me feel every time it comes my way.

Baby Girl Unleashes Sonic Scream

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Maddie is determined to announce her presence with authority before she turns two-months-old on Friday. Although my little girl has yet to form any words that we have actually been able to decipher – she is bound and determined to overcome this obstacle by using a combination of persistence and piercing volume.

The persistence aspect shows itself when Maddie is awake because she is always working hard on those communication skills. Our little girl is currently employing a series of clucking, chirping, grunts and screeching to convey her secret, but very noisy messages.

The screeches are the newest addition to her repertoire. It’s a high-pitched mini sonic scream that really cuts right to the heart of the matter. It’s amazing that such a powerful and shocking noise can be generated by such a tiny person. Maddie seems pretty confident that once she fires off one those ear-splitting blasts – she has commandeered all the attention in the room. 

The fascinating thing about these specialized events is that the little girl doesn’t seem to be communicating any specific emotion when she does it. The sonic scream is just the baby’s way of putting her raw power on display.

As we have mentioned on multiple occasions – Maddie employs an amazing degree of intensity to just about everything she does. This screech really punctuates her efforts to hip us to her personal wisdom.

For right now, we find these noises remarkably endearing and could not be happier that she is willing to share her thoughts with us. However, if this ear-splitting siren call increases in pitch and duration, we have to wonder if her serenades will quickly lose their appeal.

Baby Exploits Fear During Feeding Time

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Baby not afraid to go for the jugular during feeding time

Lions are opportunist hunters and will devour the closest animal regardless of its age, sex or condition. Lions never test potential prey for weaknesses – they just move in and to quote Ricky Bobby’s Daddy from the movie Talladega Nights: “That beautiful death machine will do what God made it to do, namely, eat you with a smile on it’s face.”

Dealing with Maddie during feeding time is now very similar to driving with an angry jungle cat in the passenger seat next to you. As my little girl continues to grow, her temperament during mealtime becomes downright terrifying. To celebrate seven weeks of close brushes with death during feeding time – I’ve compiled a short list of movies where human beings have found themselves face to face with wild animals not normally found in the confines of a car.

#1 – Tommy Boy

David Spade and Tommy Boy have to flee the car because an angry deer has woken up in the back seat and mauled the interior. Once the deer has finished with the car, it trots off into the woods prompting Tommy Boy to say, “I swear I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my life, but that… was… *awesome*.”

#2 – Talladega Nights

Ricky Bobby’s Daddy traps a cougar and slips it into the car so Ricky Bobby can learn how to drive with the fear. When Ricky gets home to his Mom, she asks him how the meeting with his father went to which he replies, “”Well, I was mauled by a cougar, learned nothing about driving and my Crystal Gayle shirt was ruined. But other than that, it went fine.”

#3 – Hangover

Stu, Phil and Alan are driving Mike Tyson’s tiger back to the champ’s house when the cat wakes up and attacks the boys and maims the Mercedes. This is just moments after Alan was reviewing some of the eating habits of tigers by explaining that: “Tigers Love Pepper. They Hate Cinnamon!”

#4 – Groundhog Day

Bill Murray gets bitten not once, but twice by an angry groundhog. It happens during the scene where Murray kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil and takes off with him in the pickup truck. These bites were not supposed to happen and were never actually shown during the movie. During the scene where Bill gets bitten, he lets the groundhog drive and tells him, “Don’t drive angry! Don’t Drive Angry!”

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Sleep

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You would think I just downed a pot of coffee!

“I’m not ready to sleep and you can’t make me!”

That message came through loud and clear yesterday as Maddie outlasted her everyone in sight including her grandmother and both of her parents. When this 7-week old baby doll takes a stand – she digs in for the nuclear winter. Her newest project this weekend was to single-handedly defeat the institution of sleep.

She woke up Sunday morning determined to disprove the notion that babies actually need sleep. Her eyes were just like the wolf’s in Little Red Riding Hood – “My Maddie, what big eyes you have!”

Her normal nap after the 5am feeding was called off due to a complete lack of interest, but we kept our spirits up knowing that the 9am feeding would completely knock her out. But according to Maddie, this was a special day – a day that would not be wasted by doing something so trivial as sleeping.

Maybe she was primed to go a stunning two wins and zero losses in her looming Fantasy Football contest. The Marauding Madsters were heavy favorites, but as team owner, Maddie knows to be calm and act like you have been there before.

At 1pm, you had to like our chances for the baby to get some sleep – but this schedule would conflict with the early games on the NFL docket. Maddie headed upstairs with her Grandmother and take in the Redskins game even though she had no vested interest in this particular contest. MiMi says Maddie seemed to get a little bit of sleep, but noticed that the little girl was secretly checking out the fantasy stats that were scrolling underneath the game on the television screen.

Surely the 5pm feeding would be ticket to trigger a massive sleeping event. Wrong again – Maddie was primed and ready to pull an “All-Dayer” as opposed to an “all-nighter.” Each waking moment only seem to strengthen her resolve.

At the 10pm feeding – Stay Home PaPa was running on fumes and the baby’s alert eyes told him all he needed to know – another showdown of cosmic proportions. Maddie ripped through her bottle in record time, but had no intention of going down without a fight. Putting her in the crib only ramped things up. I cajoled, coaxed and crowed all to no avail – Maddie wanted entertainment and there would be no bedtime without it!

I did a little song and dance, we took little strolls and practiced some extra burping sessions – surely she couldn’t keep this up – but she did. All seemed lost when finally, just before midnight, Princess Insomnia finally passed out on Dad’s chest. We can only hope and pray that this was just a one-day anomaly.

Baby Asserts Control through Unique Torture Technique

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Please lighten up on the chest hair!

As my wife and I settled onto the couch to watch a movie last night – I had a 7-pound, 5-ounce little bean clinging intently to my chest. This particular bean is not a member of the legume family, but rather my tiny daughter named Madeleine. She wasn’t the least bit tired when we sat down, but was completely content to hang out on Dad’s chest while he manipulated the television controls.

I looked down and she was staring straight up at me with those penetrating dark eyes. During our little stare down, it was hard to determine who was paying closer attention. We chatted briefly, well, I chattered on and she just sat there and watched.

I winced on multiple occasions because her little hands have mastered the art of partially ripping out chest hair. Her proficiency with this particular activity vastly improves on a daily basis. It’s stunning to me that such a little creature has the ability to inflict so much discomfort onto a fellow human being that outweighs her by more than 200 pounds. (think of the mouse that helped the lion with the splinter)

But despite the rapidly dwindling population of my chest hair – this is one of those precious moments that will be forever etched into my memory. Holding your little girl close to you seems to slow the time around you. Fatigue, anxiety and any conceivable negative emotion just seems to shrink and fade into the woodwork as you feel undeniable bond between you and your child.

The connection is unmistakable – and even though I just met this tiny person a couple of weeks ago – she already fully comprehends that she owns the rights to me.

Maddie evaluated her father and took in the sights and sounds around her for about 30 minutes before she began the descent into dreamland. I watched with rapt attention – taking in each blink and twitch until she was completely out.

There is no question that this little girl is more work than I ever could have fathomed. But by the same token, never has so much work paid so many dividends in such a short period of time.

Daughter Dominates Father in Bathroom Follies

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This image has nothing to do with this story!

August 13th was the day my beautiful daughter Madeleine was actually scheduled to be born. As you might have guessed from our previous entries – Maddie has her own ideas about timing and schedules. She also has a rapidly developing sense of humor that is leaving her daddy in the dust!

First things first, Maddie became an official member of society Saturday as her Social Security card came in the mail. I hate to admit, but there is something oddly appealing about seeing an official document with your baby’s name on it – kind of like her first invitation to play in a Grand Slam tennis tournament. (But, perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself)

Maddie also planned a wide variety of bathroom hi jinks and adventures for Daddy to celebrate what was supposed to be her “scheduled birthdate.”

At 2am – I was doing what originally appeared to be a typical diaper change. However, once the diaper came off – Crouching tiger, hidden Maddie had a sneak attack planned for her father. The urine started to flow and the Stay Home PaPa was not prepared for combat!

Round One went to Maddie as we had to change course for an impromptu bath in the sink:

  • Maddie – 1
  • Stay Home PaPa – 0

At 4am – It was diaper change city once again – and wouldn’t you know it – Maddie’s bladder was spring loaded. The cold air hit my little comedian where it counts and the Fountain of Youth surged forward yet again. This time, in the process of trying to save her nightshirt – Daddy played opposite Brad Pitt in the movie A River Runs Through It. The mighty Blackfoot River of questionable liquid swept down Daddy’s bare chest and both father and daughter were in dire need of a good HAZMAT scrub down. I can assure you that there was no fly fishing that morning!

Round Two was no contest:

  • Maddie – 2
  • Stay Home PaPa – 0

I believe that once you hit 15 days old – you should slow down a bit. Not Maddie – she had one last card to play. More than 12 hours after her last assault – my little girl was looking for the sweep and PaPa was ripe for the picking. Cue the “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor!

Maddie had just enjoyed a premier milk-fest feeding and Daddy was in the process of burping her when he felt an odd disturbance in the force. Was there something on my arm? Yes, some type of foreign vinaigrette dressing matter had taken shape on my arm and was spreading quickly.

Suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty.

Well played my friend!!

Final Score:

  • Maddie – 3
  • Stay Home PaPa – 0

The Deafening Sound of Silence

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What was that noise??

In the movie Step Brothers – Dr. Doback is so disgusted with Dale (John C. Reilly) and Brennan (Will Ferrell) – He’s forced to make the ultimate final decision.

“We’re putting the house on the market!” he shouts at them.

Brennan is suddenly on high alert, “Is the house haunted?”

I have noticed that when Maddie is out the house – and I’m not tuned into listening for her every move – the house may not seem haunted, but it’s definitely a little creepy.

As a new parent, you are so focused on what the baby is up to at all times, that it’s virtually impossible to turn off your brain. Butttt, when she’s out and about with her Mom – suffice it to say, it’s just a little too quiet! 

My wife took the baby for a walk at the local park this morning without me. Truth to tell, the silence is deafening! Maddie was born exactly two weeks ago. However, in just 14 days, there is no question that both of our brains have been recalibrated to listen for every possible noise that the munchkin might emit.

On the flip side, when the baby is home – you perceive many noises incorrectly. The squeak of the chair on the floor or a gurgle from the dishwasher can be completely misinterpreted as a cry or whimper from the baby.

I’m sure sleep depravation plays a role in this – but I have never had more fun being exhausted in my entire life!