Babyland

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Greetings from Babyland. Life’s a beach. If that beach was your house that you puttered around all afternoon until arriving at the point at which you could get ready to leave said house. Ninety minutes of getting ready ensue, culminating in the baby barfing on himself.

Change baby.

He poops.

Change baby.

Hurry, grab the car seat and strap him in there before he eliminates something out of some other orifice.

Drag selves, baby to the grandparents house, where fusses, eats, barfs, poops again, and has approximately nineteen and a half minutes of radiating, addicting, pleasantness where everyone will fall completely in love with him.

If I was really filling out a postcard, I would have ran out of room a long time ago. On postcards you’re only supposed to write that the weather is great. The weather is great, somewhere.

As you can tell, there just hasn’t been much mental capacity left for me to do any writing. Not even to tell you that I’ve purchased some Lunchables Uploaded, which is apparently a superior version of Lunchables. How it is superior I do not know yet, but I will report soon.

Still, I care about this blog, you the reader, and the fate of humanity in general. So I wanted to post something.

I recently found this gem at the thrift store:

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Oh yes. The Chuck-E-Cheese Pizza Factory. Everything sealed and minty on the inside. Part of me wants to keep it, but I’ll probably sell it. (Contact me if you desperately need this is your life.)

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It comes with pizza dough, cheese, and pizza sauce to make little pizzas. This toy is 20+ years old. Have you ever wondered what 20-year old pizza sauce looks like?

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It looks like that.

There must be a ton of these sitting in a warehouse somewhere, because someone is selling them on Amazon, where there also happens to be the world’s most depressing review of the item:

“The pizza products was so old the special sauce was black and hard, the flower wouldn’t even fold together and the cheese was breakable.”

It’s depressing because that black-plague-looking pizza sauce didn’t ward off this person from opening the flour/flower and cheese packets. You’d think some primitive instinct would have kicked in screaming POISON, STOMACH FLU BAD, DISEMBOWELMENT, but no — this person trooped onward and opened up the flour/flower and cheese packets AND TRIED TO USE THEM. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When life hands you Satan’s black crusted body fluids, you try to make pizza out of it anyway.

However, there’s a happy ending to this story. The review goes on to say “Other than that the oven was a winner with the kids after we purchased more products to make pizza!”

Contest: Entertain Me at 3AM, Win This Awesome Hoodie

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I’ve teamed up with TV Store Online, a shop that sells pop culture shirts, to give away a free prize to someone out there. The prize I’ve chosen is this ridiculous sick TMNT hoodie (shown above) in honor of the new Turtles-with-creepy-nostrils movie that’s out.

In my real life, I would have already seen that movie, bought all the nostril-y action figures, and spewed out a 2000-word thesis on the film. However, in my alternate life, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to not have my baby smell like pee all the time. Technically, this may ultimately prove to be more entertaining than the movie, but I don’t think I’m supposed to be talking about that.

I’m supposed to be talking about how TV Store Online has a variety of TV, movies, music, and gaming t-shirts and novelties for sale, so be sure to browse their site on your own accord.

Okay, so how do you win?

Entertain me. Somehow. I’m desperate. At some point, it’s going to be 3AM for me, and I’m going to be forced-awake with pee-smelling baby in my arms. Leave a comment. Tell me a story, an anecdote, a joke, a link to something I should read. Tell me something that happened to you yesterday. Tell me how you started reading this blog. Tell me about your love life, your lunch, or your experience with head lice. I’m really not picky these days.

My comment is going to be lame and I never win anything.

Nope. Your comment is going to rule so hard. And maybe today is the day you will win a magical internet blog prize.

I’ve never commented on the blog and now I’m going to look sleazy just trying to win the prize.

I don’t care. Judgement-free zone.

I’ve never even read this blog. I just got here from Twitter trying to win the prize.

Just make your story extra entertaining. And maybe read some more of the blog. And adorn me with admiration.

We’re friends in real life.

Sorry, real life friends. This prize is only for special internet strangers!

Now what?

A week from today, August 20th, I will assign numbers to the comments and randomly draw a number to pick the winner. Be sure to leave your email address in the comment form. I will email the winner and have TV Store Online send you the prize!

Sweet Hoodie Specs:

http://www.tvstoreonline.com/tmnt-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-84-hoodie.html

- Comes in sizes S to XXXL
– Heather Gray
– 50% Cotton / 50% Polyester
– Standard Fit Hoodie
– $45 Value. This will easily be the sweetest prize you’ve ever won.

Alright. Comment. Go.

Nachos Lunchable Fan Club

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I’m starting a fan club for the Nachos Lunchable. Not any of the other Lunchables. Just the Nachos one. I mean, it’s terrible. But it’s also so perfect. Especially when combined with the accompanying mini-Kit Kat and fruit-punch Capri Sun. Consider the flavor profiles here: weird cheese, ice-cold corn chips, watery ketchup, chocolate, fruit punch. It sounds disgusting. And yet it works.

The thing about being awake for 20 out of 24 hours is that you get hungry. Ravenous. Starving. One morning, at 3AM, the idea of the Lunchables Nachos suddenly seemed so so right. I guess you could say I had a craving for it. Which may be the first time in history anyone over the age of eight has ever had a craving for a Lunchable.

Let me tell you — it is the perfect food for keeping you awake. It’s 510 calories of corn syrup solids. It’s not food. Food is natural. Food moves through you. Food gives you nourishment. Food makes you sleepy, because sleeping is what healthy, well-nourished people do.

This is fuel. Fuel is a material. Fuel drives engines, which are naturally dormant. Fuel gives them life. Fuel makes you awake, because you are no a longer a person. You are a re-animated robot juiced, pumped full of, primed, and running smooooothly on 510 calories of corn and sugar.

WOW I FEEL GREAT.

THIS IS GOD’S FOOD.

THIS IS WHAT LIVING FEELS LIKE.

I love dipping these microscopic stale chips into the icy pool of ketchup with that ONE sliver of onion floating in there. And let’s just talk about that cheese. That cheese. That beautiful cheese-like, neon-yellow substance. It’s almost like a custard. It has a little bit of a pull to it. Like when you’re dipping the chips, it has this quicksand-like tug to it, where it gently envelops and sucks down the chip for you. Or maybe I’m just hallucinating right now.

And then that Capri Sun. It’s like a shot of B-Vitamins mixed with speed. I don’t even care that the baby has just kicked it up a notch into LEVEL FIVE SCREAMING, because right now I’m on a tropical vacation in a weird foil pouch.

Now for the Kit Kat, which is just a regular old Kit Kat, but right now it tastes like a goddamn truffle imported from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy.

WHO NEEDS REAL FOOD. WHO NEEDS BLUEBERRIES OR ALMONDS OR KALE OR SPROUTS. I imagine this is what addicts feel like when they choose their drug-augmented reality over real life.

Okay, now I’m fully able to sooth and rock the baby for the next two hours. Does he ever sleep? Has he even slept at all in the last twenty-four hours? Have I? Has the wife? The only one I know for certain is the dog. Her face has taken on a permanent look of grimace and determination to sleep through this shit.

The wife and I take shifts in two-hour blocks. Later, on her shift, I startle awake to the sound of something in her voice. I don’t know what it is. Just her voice. I run downstairs to see what’s happening.

The baby is projectile pooping. The sound of her voice isn’t horror. It’s marvel. It’s like a scientist happening upon an undiscovered species. Something you didn’t know existed or could even possibly exist.

I didn’t realize my wife becomes a writer when describing poop. She’s very articulate and almost elegant about it. She was spitting out back to back metaphors like a free-style rapper.

“His butt was a Super Soaker full of poop.” 

“It was a soup pouring out of him.”

“He almost filled the entire changing pad. I thought it was going to overflow like a volcano.”

And that’s it. That’s my life. This blog is about babies and Lunchables and poop forever from now on.

Sleep Deprivation Dispatches

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The eyes are open, staring, beautiful. It’s like a horror movie. An adorable horror movie. It’s 3AM, and after an hour and a half of rocking, singing, rocking, feeding, and a feeble attempt in the baby swing, I’ve carefully placed him in the crib with the technical precision of defusing a bomb. But the bomb goes off and those little blue eyes peek back open to ask where I think I’m going.

The wife and I have had many amusing, clever exchanges and anecdotes on child-rearing so far. And I’d tell you them if I could remember a single thing. In sleep deprivation, the first thing to go is short-term memory. The worst is bolting awake every hour on the hour, freaking out whether or not you actually did in fact put the kid back in the crib. I said we needed to come up with a code word to announce out loud and confirm landing in the crib. If only I could remember what I said the code word should be.

Everyone complains about the poop. The poop is nothing. Poop means everything works the way it should be on the inside. The poop is always a mini-celebration with gifts and cake. “You pooped!” we sing when we open the diaper. Spit-up, on the other hand, is the real nightmare. Regurgitated sour milk hiding in baby neck fat folds is the worst.

Earlier, while holding the baby and watching TV, I came across a made-for-television B-movie called Jersey Shore Shark Attack. After watching a few minutes of it, I was beyond captivated. Instantly — and with a bit of panic — I turned it off. I MUST NOT SPOIL ANY MORE OF THIS. I NEED TO SEE THIS PROPERLY FROM THE BEGINNING. Then I spent twenty minutes searching with ZEAL for the next airing, which isn’t until August 29th. I promptly announced we were going to rent it.

I really need to leave the house.

We did leave the house the other day, to take fifteen minute walk around the neighborhood. It took two hours of preparation and planning around the feeding/changing/barfing-all-over-oneself schedule.

When the baby looks at me, he nearly takes my breath away, and then he’s so gorgeous that I’m completely certain God exists. Then he burps and farts at the same time.

From what I’ve gathered, his interests so far are ceilings. Ceilings are fascinating. As are the warnings printed on the inside of his pack-and-play. He reads it over and over with rapt attention.

A sampling of things I’ve eaten:

- Blue Raspberry Twinkies because I clearly hate myself
– Ramen noodles because it only takes 3 minutes to make
– Those fucking peaches with listeria because that’s the last time I ever try being healthy
– Ice cream because.
– Ninja Turtles Pizza Hut Cheesy bites Pizza, eaten hastily in shifts while taking turns with a volcanic-red screaming baby.
– McDonald’s
– McDonald’s again whatever
– Some tofu thing the neighbors made us
– Birthday Cake M&Ms which sound totally awesome, but sort of suck

Also these.

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This is a three-pound bear-shaped tub of Animal Crackers. It’s roughly between the size of a Big Gulp and above-ground swimming pool. We opened them twelve hours ago, and eaten the bear’s head fill of the cookies. The dog likes them too. We’re all surviving.

I Love This Baby! Thank You For Making Him For Me!

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Brian James was born on Free Slurpee Day, or 7-11-14. This is another one of those life events where I have no idea how to narrate it or tell it. So I’ll just write without much thinking or editing, and we’ll see where it goes. There are too many words. There are not enough. Or as I dumbly put it to my wife while high on baby fumes, “I love this baby! Thank you for making him for me.”

Let’s back up a few weeks to where my wife was dragging me to all these birthing classes and hippy-dippy birthing seminars taking place in weird people’s attics. Add in the birth books and all the things read on the internet. Now I’ll just go ahead and throw all of that in the trashcan, because NOTHING HAPPENED THAT WAY AT ALL.

Now let’s back up to what would be our last date/dinner together as a childless, care-free couple. We had fallen into a “fast food at home” rut in the prior days, with the wife in constant pain and it always being approximately 3000 degrees outside. But feeling a burst of energy, we decided to go out to a new place together, a British pub with great food and spirits. We sat outside on a patio while some teenager played acoustic covers alt-90s songs with a nasally-emo twist. Kids today.

The air was cool and the sky was darkening as a thunderstorm slowly rolled in. We finished our meal just in time before the rain started. I had ordered the vegan burger — a quarter-pound patty of “premium vegan ground beef.” Which is a fancy way of saying it was a gigantic brick of pure fiber. Little did I know this dinner choice would come back to haunt me in just a few hours.

With still another week to go before our due date and no signs of labor, we weren’t expecting anything other than a weekend of sadly scrolling through everyone’s beach vacation posts on Facebook, while we sat at home with the curtains drawn. Instead, at 3:45 AM, the wife startled, stood up out of bed, and matter-of-factly announced her water broke. I love the next detail for some reason — she also said she had been having the most vivid dream of running naked and pregnant down the highway.

I immediately jumped up, grabbed the dog who sleeps in bed with us, carried her one-armed down the stairs, and secured her in the dining room area. I did this without words, automatically, as though it were some kind of tornado safety drill. I have no idea why I did that, but the important thing was THE DOG IS SECURED, even though it was completely unnecessary.

What was next? Mentally I began to run through the stuff we had learned in the classes. I remembered the very important lesson the burly nurse teaching the birthing class had told us about what happens when the water breaks first: “it only happens in about 10% of cases, so we’re not going to waste too much time going over that.”

Great. Well, I guess I was going to have to make up my own plan of action.

“Let’s call the doctor right now,” I said, with more firmness than fear in my voice, at least I like to think so.

“Calm down,” the wife said. I guess she heard more fear. “We have hours. I don’t even have contractions yet. I’ll call the doctor in a little bit.”

“Nope. We’re going to the hospital soon. Call now.”

“You didn’t read any of the baby books I wanted you to read, so now you’re freaking out because you have no idea how it works,” the wife lectured. “We have hours to go. I want to labor at home for awhile.”

I was hitting a wall with her. We WERE going to the hospital SOON, so I decided to just go ahead and plow through the rest of my action plan, including showering, changing, and packing the car.

Several minutes later, I was ready to leave, and the wife was casually alternating between casually brushing her hair and running to the toilet to casually gush out amniotic fluid. I won’t entail the next half-hour of events, but it involved escalating arguing about what the baby books said, ending with the wife crying hysterically in the shower, and me realizing I had to let her call the shots.

So we walked the dog…

…and I did the dishes…

…and the wife calmly packed a few extra things…

…while I watered the plants…

…and she slowly ate breakfast and checked email…

It was agonizing for me. But since she is also great at compromise, we did finally make it to the hospital by 7am. Besides, she had begun to have a few minor contractions. I called our families and told them we had hours. Hours. Don’t come until after lunchtime, maybe later.

This is the point where my stomach began to knot up and that gigantic brick of fiber began to rumble. But I will not entail any more of this, either. Let’s just say I made it to the bathroom in time. Oh, and I made it OUT of bathroom in time, too.

The wife began having stronger contractions. But she was still totally able to stand and talk, so there was no urgency. We casually sauntered back to triage and a nurse looked at where she was. This is where the casualness stopped.

The wife was already EIGHT CENTIMETERS DILATED AND 100% EFFACED. Suddenly a hospital team in full-blown riot/birthing gear stormed the room and rushed us into a delivery room. It was actually a terrifying moment, and I actually had a bit of PTSD with images of my mother in the ICU. I just have to acknowledge that this whole journey began nine months earlier, when we found out the wife was pregnant two days before my mother died in the hospital.

Seeing all those hospital workers storm the room and start working on the wife, I had a hard time separating what was happening. Was my mom dying again? Was my wife going to be okay? Would the baby be okay?

I panicked. “What’s happening? What’s going on?” I asked out loud to anyone who would answer.

Then a midwife stood in front of me and almost shook me a little bit. “You’re going to have a baby very soon,” she said.

It was a powerful moment, powerful enough to finally cleave the two hospital experiences into two separate events.

I called our families back. “Nevermind, come now. COME NOW.”

We did not have hours. In fact, we had ninety minutes, and then only thirty minutes more of pushing. I don’t want to be smug and say I was right. The wife talked about a pregnant mother’s intuition. Yeah, and I have a crazy person’s intuition. You know that babbling guy standing on the corner predicting that the world is going to end? Sure, he’s crazy, but he’s also not totally wrong.

The wife did it without meds or interventions. She is amazing. Watching my son be born is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Seeing his face for the first time was stunning. He was perfect, healthy, weighing eight pounds and four ounces. Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you.

And now we are here at home with him, figuring this whole thing out together. I’m teaching him about life, and he’s teaching me about life. First lesson for me: there is such a thing as green liquid poop.