Monday, April 30, 2012

The Dude’s Guide to Surviving Your First Pregnancy

The wife of an old high school friend of mine just gave birth to their first child a few days ago. Over the last few months, I’ve been dropping (what I think are) helpful pieces of advice to him as they journeyed down the long three-quarters of a year of gestation. I figured that I’ve been a parent for almost 2 ½ years so I’m basically an expert.

Now that Mrs. Dude is expecting again, I’m trying to remember all of the important details from our first loop around the block. Unfortunately due to major sleep deprivation over the last quarter-decade, I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday. So I’ve decided to compile a reference list of helpful hints for Dudes whose wives/girlfriends/partners are expecting a bundle of joy.  (I use the term wife below, since that’s what I have, but whichever variety applies to you works the same.)

Since your free time is running out, I present without further delay 
The Dude’s Guide to Surviving Your First Pregnancy:

1)      If you don’t know the fruit of your loins' gender, ignore everyone who offers their opinion. If you wanted to know you’d find out. Whether it’s your favorite aunt or the checker at Target, whatever they say is useless. And never do the “ring on a string” trick on your wife’s belly to find out. There are much more scientific options available. Like asking a Magic 8 Ball.

2)      Don’t read “What To Expect When You're Expecting”. I know it’s been around for decades and has gajillions of copies in print, but it could really scare you. You may shy away from your wife when you learn about the numerous colorful bodily functions & expulsions she will endure during these 40 weeks up through and after the main event. Sure, it’s fun to read that the baby is the size of a grape or a plum or a Pony-keg, but 90% of the rest of the book contains warnings like eating Lucky Charms while pregnant is bad for your baby*. It’s so scary, in fact, that I initially thought it was a Stephen King book.**

3)      Do read Jenny McCarthy’s pregnancy book "Belly Laughs". Yes, she is generally a total kook, but her pregnancy book is hilarious and she gives practical advice for both men and women. Trust me on this one.

4)      Go to restaurants you really enjoy. Once Junior arrives you may still be able to go there occasionally, but you’ll be eating so fast you won’t taste the food as you shovel it down your gullet while getting an earful of screaming from your Mini-Me and dirty looks from the nearby tables.  Eating out basically becomes the dining equivalent of doing a beer bong. 

5)      Don’t let Babies R Us employees guilt you into registering for or, even worse, actually buying a roomful of unnecessary contraptions your baby doesn’t really need. Unless you live in an igloo, your baby probably can survive without heated wipes.

6)      Go to the movies as much as possible. Once the baby arrives, you won’t be able to see another movie where Reese Witherspoon can’t figure out that the handsome guy she’s been bickering with actually likes her, without spending $100 in the process, for YEARS. (This is actually kind of a good thing.)

This means war...on quality cinema. 
7)      On a related note, don’t ever watch a birthing video. It’s one of those retina-scarring things that you can’t unwatch. Sort of like a Reese Witherspoon movie.***    

8)      Maximize use of the “Expectant Mother” parking spaces everywhere you can. Your window is small, much like your wife’s bladder for the next few months. If men and women are truly equal partners, there should be no problem with Dudes using these spaces. Even if you are going to pick up some hunting gear or a new flat-screen for your man cave. 

9)      Speaking of her compromised bladder, don’t drive fast over speed bumps and pot holes. (Exceptions: if you put down plastic sheeting on the seat first or if you are trying to induce labor.)

10)   If debating baby names with your wife, pick a name you like then throw in options like “Google”, “Kanye” or “Caligula”.  That context will make your first choice much more appealing.

I hope this list helps as you travel down the path toward unimaginable insomnia.  To quote Robert Hunter: “Believe it if you need it, if you don’t, just pass it on.” 

What advice would YOU give to expectant Dudes?

*=that may not be actual claim from the book, but I remember reading stuff like that and subsequently not letting my wife read the book after the first trimester.
**= They are making a movie based on the book. It looks pretty funny. Hopefully less mucus-related stories than the book.
***= Exception to the rule: Election. Tracy Flick rules.

I'm linking up with the wonderful Stasha this week. She asked for a list of 10 things we are good at and I think the above is a sign of how good of a "pregnant husband" I am :)

As always, I am linking up with Erica and the Yeah Write gang. 
Come check out some amazing writers and vote for your favorites on Thursday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rockin' Friday: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Today is Arbor Day, so I wanted to come up with a Rockin’ Friday song that was about trees.  But I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any. So I chose one of the Little Dude’s absolute favorite songs which is about a jungle, because jungles are full of trees.  (I hope that’s close enough for you.)

This week’s tune is The Lion Sleeps Tonight, though you might know it as “Wimoweh”. Or as the song Ace Ventura and Monica Geller entertained a zoo-full of animals with. 

"Speaking of animals, what do you think of Cougar Town?"

It was originally recorded by a South African man in the late 1930s, and has been covered numerous times including originally in the US by folk music legend Pete Seeger and The Weavers. But the most famous recording was by The Tokens in 1961. That version incorporated the modern lyrics that we all know.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight was part of a major controversy over copyright violations after Disney used it in The Lion King, but a lawsuit was eventually settled with the family of the South African man regarded as the writer.  Seventy-five years after it was first recorded. I guess his descendants didn’t want to let sleeping dogs (or lions) lie. 

Can you think of any songs about trees? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: King of the Slide

As I sit atop my curvy plastic throne,
I suggest you get out of my way.

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Dude Flies Solo

It began with a kiss as she walked out the door. That wonderful moment was just the beginning of my great unknown.  As Mrs. Dude departed on Friday afternoon for a friend’s overnight bachelorette party in wine country, I was hoping that I was not headed for 24 hours in whine country. 

Even though the Little Dude is 2+ years old and I have spent a considerable amount of time with him by myself, this was something new.  I had never had him for 24 hours solo before. And likewise, he had never had 24 hours with just me. Or as he would likely view it, without his mother. 

Though certainly not frequently, I have spent an occasional few days away from home over the last 2+ years.  My wife is a pro and can handle the Little Dude in any situation.  She’s flown cross-country with him. She’s driven him up and down the state of California. She’s even waited in line at the DMV with him, and that’s not easy. 

She put him down for his nap that day, as she usually does.  When he woke up she wasn’t there, but that’s not unusual since I usually have him post-nap through bedtime most nights during the week while Mrs. Dude is working.

At first I wanted to come up with a plan. Then I realized that planning for toddlers rarely works.  So I came up with a few ideas and knew I’d have to be flexible. I’ve learned from watching my wife operate so smoothly on the fly that flexibility is the key. She easily handles unexpected detours, no matter the situation.  One thing I wanted to avoid was discussing “Mama” with him. Her absence was not a secret, as she’d told him that she was going away, but didn’t need to be emphasized either.

That night, I figured I’d butter him up to get on his good side. Literally. I made his favorite dinner of Kraft Mac and Cheese.  When it’s fresh, he can eat enough to make Kobayashi look like a Weight Watcher.  His eyes smiled eagerly as I brought out the giant bowl of “Freshie Roni”.  We ate it side-by-side and even though he rejected the broccoli I served, he managed to find room for the cookies I gave him for dessert.   

We got through the rest of the usual evening routine with no problem. Of course it was really the next day I was worried about, when he woke up and Mama wasn’t there for the first time.  Was it too late to hire an understudy?

He woke up at 7:00am on Saturday and I went to grab him from his crib. T-minus 12 hours or so until the most anticipated return since the Jedi. We played in his room for a few minutes and when I went to change his diaper, he said “See Mama Again!” Sigh.  My luck ended faster than that ironically-named TV show Luck that was just canceled after the horses kept dying.  I reminded him that Mama was out with her friends and would be back soon. Soon being a relative term.  

Suddenly, a great idea hit me like a stomachache after eating at McDonalds.  Like much in life, whether the product is good or not, it’s the branding and marketing that make things successful. I told him that that day was just going to be me and him hanging out and dubbed it “Dudes’ Day”. The initial response was very positive, since he repeated “Dudes’ Day” 50 times after that.  Word of mouth was developing…but would it sustain?

We took the dog for a walk, made breakfast and then the pressure to come up with a new plan was on. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that Seattleites laugh at, but Angelenos balk at. Since I’m originally from Ohio, I knew we had to press on.

We bundled up and headed to our weekly local Farmers’ Market.  I knew he would enjoy the bright colors and people-watching, or at least all the free fruit samples.  After making a loop, and the piecemeal equivalent of a giant fruit salad, we headed down the street to a local “Spring Festival”, aka Easter Bunny fest. We don’t celebrate Easter, but we had a brief brush with fame after meeting the infamous Bunny:

Yes, that is really us pictured in our local newspaper with the aforementioned Bunny 
We grabbed lunch at a nearby cafe, and destroyed our table like the rockstars we are.  We went home and he crashed after a long morning of cruising the streets of our fair city. I expected the Mrs. to be home when he woke up, so I figured I’d made it through!  Until she told me she was going to stay with her friends for dinner.  Now what?

I figured our Dudes’ Day finale should be what every good-time person does on a Saturday night, so we went to IHOP.  Since I’d recently discovered his fondness for their pancakes, I knew it would be a hit. And as we finished our dinner, we received a surprise at the restaurant. Mrs. Dude got dropped off at IHOP by her friend on their way back into town and we all rode home together. A successful solo mission / Inaugural Dudes’ Day was now history. 

I'm once again linking up with the great Yeah Write community.
Come check out some great writers and vote for your favorites on Thursday. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rockin’ Friday: The Weight

This week’s Rockin’ Friday is bittersweet. The Weight is one of my all time favorite songs, but this week it has extra meaning. Robbie Robertson wrote it in 1968 and it was a highlight of The Band's debut album "Music From Big Pink". Since then it has been covered countless times by artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin to the Grateful Dead, and appeared in myriad movies and TV shows.

The Weight is the tale of a man traveling around Nazareth, PA and the interesting characters he encounters in his travels like Crazy Chester, Luke and even the Devil.  The song is written in a very folky style with great harmonizing on the choruses. Makes a perfect sing-along for me and my Little Dude.

This song is especially timely with yesterday’s passing of The Band’s legendary drummer Levon Helm.  Levon sang lead on this song and one of my favorite lines that he sang is even timelier now:

I gotta go, but my friends can stick around 

I was fortunate to see Levon in concert a year and a half ago and it was a stellar performance, especially considering that he’d battled cancer and other ailments for many years.

Levon and his giant grin will be missed. 

Check out The Weight from The Band’s farewell concert “The Last Waltz”:

What does The Weight mean to you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two-line Tuesday: Smiley Plate

I don't care if the plate is smiling.
I'm still not going to eat it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stars Are Just Like Us?

My wife has a subscription to US Weekly magazine and I can admit that I glance at it occasionally. But only after I’ve finished reading my own magazines about sports, mustaches, chainsaws and other manly things.  US has a feature called “Stars Are Just Like Us”, which shows pictures of celebs in real day-to-day situations like Britney Spears getting a parking ticket “just like us” normal people. Except our tickets aren’t usually on a $400,000 Bentley. In Beverly Hills. 

A couple recent news stories grabbed my attention and made me wonder if celebrities parent “just like us” average folk, too.  Do you think they ever get peed on, like us peons, or do they have an assistant with a shield, mask and tarp to handle that task?

The first story involved Alicia Silverstone, who you probably remember from the 1990s movie Clueless and pretty much nothing else since.  She recently posted a video on YouTube of her chewing food from a plate and then depositing it from her mouth directly into her son’s mouth for him to eat. As if it’s not bad enough that she named her son “Bear Blu”, the video makes them look like they are hormonal teens playing tonsil hockey.  I know mama birds chew food for their babies, but they don’t have opposable thumbs. Or knives and forks.  There’s also some serious bacteria-transfer going on in a situation like that which can’t be healthy for Bear. Yes, I’m an admitted germaphobe but I’d rather roll around in a bathtub filled with staph-infected snakes than eat food someone else had already chewed, no matter the familial relationship. 

The second story was about actress January Jones eating her own placenta after the birth of her son. When I first heard about this, I pictured her wearing a giant bib while cutting into a steak-like lump of flesh. Then I found out the placenta is actually ground up and put into a capsule. I guess that’s better or at least a more efficient way of eating it.  Supposedly eating ones’ afterbirth helps with postpartum depression, increases the supply of breast milk, restores pre-pregnancy energy levels and helps replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy and more. There is no scientific research proving any of those claims to be true, though. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure those traits can be obtained via a variety of supplements at any drug store. Or the majority of items at Whole Foods. And none of the ingredients lived in a person’s body for almost a year.  I totally understand wanting to bond with your child, but eating their womb-side TV dinner seems a little close for comfort to me. Perhaps Miss Jones thinks that by gaining notoriety for this quirky behavior people will forget that she was in the awful “American Wedding” sequel a few years ago. 

The third story is about actress Mayim Bialik who recently wrote a book about her dedication to “attachment parenting”. I give her a lot of credit for being with her kids all the time and not hiring a nanny or babysitter as many people, whether famous or not, do. But I think that waking up 4-6 times per night to breastfeed her 3 ½ year old sons seems excessive. Bialik starred in “Beaches” as a tween and now stars on “The Big Bang Theory”, a sitcom about brilliant scientists/social misfits whose mothers’ parenting stunted their emotional growth. It sounds like Mayim is taking a page out of that book and applying it to her real life. 

From what I’ve learned over the last few years, breastfeeding is an incredible experience that creates a strong bond between mother and child. But when the kid is old enough to go to school or eat a steak, it might be time to wean. If I were a woman (which I’m not, just to be clear) I’d be afraid of sharp untrained teeth on my delicate areas. I guess Mayim’s overnight routine isn’t as difficult, however, since her whole family sleeps in a communal bed on the floor of her bedroom. I know how much fun it is when my son is in our bed occasionally for an hour and can’t fathom him being there all night, nor would I want to. That’s partly because a) I like having pillows and covers & b) I don’t like getting kicked in the head while sleeping. It’s not that I don’t want to be with my son or spend quality time with him, but I think a certain level of independence is very important for kids to develop early and sleeping in their own crib/bed in their own room is a vital component of that.  

From reading all of these unorthodox parenting stories, I learned that celebrities really do parent just like us. I know that Alicia, January and Mayim are not the only people who believe in the techniques mentioned above. I think that every parent is obligated to do what they feel is best for their children. Just because it might not be right for me, doesn't mean it's not right for you. Though the practices mentioned above are not any that my wife or I have ever used on our son, our parenting is similar to the celebrities in that we all obviously love our kids enough to do whatever we believe will help them thrive, by any means necessary. So I guess stars really are just like us. 

What do you think of these parenting methods and practices? Do you utilize any of them?

I'm linking up with the great writers at Yeah Write again this week. 
Check them out and come back Thursday to vote for your favorites:

Oh, and the very cool Stasha invited me to link up with her gang this week, even though my post doesn't include 10 things, but was coincidentally on her exact subject.  Check 'em out:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rockin’ Friday: Superstition

This week’s Rockin’ Friday tune is Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. I thought this was a great way to honor today’s Friday the 13th “holiday”. Unless you actually are superstitious, like some of my relatives, then you probably won’t appreciate this one.  

Written by Wonder in 1972, Superstition tells the tales of what bad things can happen if you ignore the old wives’ tales about black cats, broken mirrors and other nonsense scary stuff.  Recognizable for its steady drum into and utilization of Stevie’s super funky synthesizer this song was ahead of its’ time when it was written.  It is a great amalgamation of funk, soul, horns and a great pre-disco disco beat.

With great lyrics that can be applicable to many situations in life, I think the message is pretty powerful:

When you believe in things that you don’t understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain’t the way…

Stevie is a wise man. Go check it out…

Are you superstitious? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dude Got A New Suit

Hey gang,

In addition to all the fun we have here on Dude of the House, I am now contributing to the great Draft Day Suit blog. I'll be writing posts that are sure to win at least a couple Pulitzer prizes, in order to keep the wonderful webmistress Sarah happy.

Here's a link to my first piece, written from the perspective of the bitter Cleveland fan that I am.

Check it out and make sure to bookmark Draft Day Suit.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Shades

No paparazzi! 
Now will someone please pass me my Thomas the Train toothpaste?

Monday, April 9, 2012

We Hop To IHOP

He had a cold. I had an idea. After several days with a runny nose I decided to venture out with the Little Dude for a dinner of warm comfort food. I know it usually makes me feel better when I’m sick, but would it do the same for him?

Knowing what a picky eater he is, my options were limited. I’d heard that the local IHOP has a “kids eat free” deal if an adult eats. I hedged my bets that he’d eat, popped some precautionary Tums and headed to a place which apparently takes Dr. Seuss a bit too literally for my taste.

The sun was setting as we drove. I’d never been to this location before and wasn’t sure exactly where it was. Fortunately the neon-blue sign was so bright that it looked like a post-apocalyptic Smurf village, so I easily found my way as I pulled off the freeway. We grabbed a booth near the front and I tried to guess which method of distraction I would need to utilize first. Was it the crayons on the table? The books I brought? Telling him the menu was a picture book and he should try to figure out the story? (Spoiler Alert: when you get all the way to the end, someone joins Weight Watchers.)  

Since I hadn’t been to an IHOP in a very long time I figured I should look at the menu. Thanks to the new regulations that forces restaurants to list the caloric content of everything they serve, I figured I’d skip the tempting looking “Chicken and Waffles”.  And only partially because I don’t want to get a prescription for Lipitor this week.

I ordered the Little Dude some silver dollar pancakes and myself a salad, figuring it’d be hard for them to mess that up or figure out a way to deep-fry it. (It turns out I was wrong, but I’ll get to that.) I’m not generally a big entrĂ©e- salad orderer.  But after seeing that their chicken sandwiches contained almost as many calories as Shaquille O’Neal eats in a month, I could feel my arteries harden slightly just from perusing the menu  & went with the leafy stuff.

After just a few minutes, his plate of 5 mini-pancakes was delivered and the server told me my salad would be right up. The Little Dude’s eyes widened like Tim Tebow’s at a strip club as he looked excitedly at what lay in front of him. Though he has never so much as tasted a chicken nugget, French fry or bite of pizza he LOVES breakfast food. So much so that Mrs. Dude has become a pancake and waffle-making master. If there is ever an Iron Chef: Flapjack Edition, I’m going to sign her up.  

As he watched me slice his pancakes with eager eyes,  the Little Dude spotted something he’d never seen before across the table. In addition to the usual “brown” (maple) syrup, there was also “red” (strawberry), “blue” (blueberry) and “black” (boysenberry) varieties.  He quickly became fixated on the red one and begged me to use it, so I poured a little bit on a small piece for him as a sample. As the red lava hit his tongue, it was immediately rejected like a Kardashian by Harvard.  I doused the rest of his pancakes with his beloved brown syrup and watched him go to town. 

A few minutes later, I asked the server again where my salad was.  The restaurant was three-quarters empty and we were sitting parallel to the kitchen, which I could tell wasn’t busy as I watched the bored chefs juggling eggs.  I started to wonder if they had to dispatch someone to the nearest grocery store because they don’t usually stock vegetables at IHOP due to their infrequent use.  As the Little Dude polished off the last of his fluffy circles of Dr. Atkins’ mortal enemy, I finally received my bowl of greens, chicken and cheese.  A mere 25 minutes after ordering. It tasted exactly as you’d expect a Chicken Caesar Salad to taste at IHOP.  But as I wolfed it down, I saw the glazed look of a satiated toddler sitting across from me and knew that he had indeed been comforted. Mission accomplished.

Where do you go, or what do you eat, when you want comfort food? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rockin’ Friday: If I had $1000000

This week’s Rockin’ Friday tune is “If I had $1000000” by Barenaked Ladies.  Those six zeroes indicate a million dollars and are how the band curiously chose to spell the title. That would have been my 3rd choice, but what do I know? 

It’s a great song featuring a kid friendly “call-and-repeat” which little ones can easily participate in singing.  The song is about what a Dude would do for his beloved if he possessed that much cash. The singer is obviously a kind soul, as he’d not only buy her a house but also furniture for her house so she wouldn’t have to sit on the floor.  His generosity is not surprising, because he’s Canadian and they are usually pretty cool.  

1,000 Benjis = $1000000
This is a great song for kids because the message contains positive messages of sharing what you are fortunate to have with others, caring for animals and cultural education. For example, the singer says that if he had a million dollars he’d “buy you some art, like a Picasso or a Garfunkel”.  Seriously, who wouldn’t want an original Garfunkel in their home? I mean beside Paul Simon, of course. 

This song has been a concert favorite for BNL for many years and there is always some good improvisation when they perform it live. A perfect example is the Macaroni Dance/Explosion that singer Stephen Page does halfway through the version in the video below.

What would YOU do if you had a million dollars?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Two-line Tuesday: Rhino

Slow down, Rhino.
You look a little green.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Let's Bee Friends

So, you want to know a little more about what makes this Dude tick? My friend Bruna from the great blog Bees With Honey profiled me recently. Well, I profiled myself actually. She asked me to write a list of 10 fascinating things about myself, but she graciously hosted me on her great weekly feature "Let's Bee Friends". 

Anyway, since I know you are dying to find out 11 truly fascinating things about me (10 just wasn't enough, I'm that interesting),  CLICK HERE.

Be sure to check out Let's Bee Friends every Friday for a great new profile.
Thanks again, Bruna!