The Wild Thing

23 10 2009

There was a time would E would sleep through the night, 12, 14 hours, without so much as a rustle. We knew we were lucky, lucky to have a baby that would let us have the night to ourselves, undisturbed.

That changed when E started climbing out of his crib. I think it must have been around month 20, in the summer. He’d start awake from a nightmare, climb out of his crib, and seek us out for consolation. What were we to do? The kid just had a nightmare. You’ve got to let him sleep with you.

Pretty soon it was every night. We changed out the guard rails for a set that had an opening in them because there was no point in pretending that nothing was stopping him from just hopping over them any time he wanted to. We’d put him to bed and sneak out when he fell asleep, but at one or two in the morning, when we ourselves were sure to be in bed, he’d climb out of his crib, march down the hallway with his favorite blanket, and claw at our bed.

The Chinese have a nickname for their little ones. They call them Little Emperors. E is almost two now. He is eagerly testing out newfound powers of refusal, of demand, of whiny attrition. He is our Little Emperor.

And Dana just gives in. She’s ragged from all the school work and stress and doesn’t have it in her to deal with wet eyes and screaming sirens of protest. But I’m the Dad. I’m the man of the house; I’m the law. The buck stops with me, buddy.

So one night, when Dana is away, I decide to take the opportunity to put my foot down. I give E his bath, put him in his pajamas, and turn out the lights. I fish around for the Mighty Brite reading light and read him Goodnight Moon. He’s yawning. Good sign. We say our prayers, and I lift him in my arms and set him in his crib. As I do so, I say, “I’m leaving, E, and I want you to stay in your crib. I don’t want you to leave this room tonight.”

He rocks his head back and forth and ever so faintly says, “No. No.”

“Yes, E. Stay in your crib. I am closing the door,” and I latch the door shut.

Then I go down the hall, get in bed, and wait.

And, indeed, ten minutes later I hear him get out of his crib. I hear him run his hand across the door. What is this? The door’s never been shut before. How am I supposed to get out? I can hear him scratch at the groove between the door and the frame.

And then I hear him go nuts. He starts to whine. And then bawl. And then I hear him stomp around the room blindly. He starts opening all his drawers and flinging out all his clothes. I almost get out of bed when he starts throwing his toys. HeĀ  starts banging against the door, first with his shoulder, then with his head. He presses all the buttons on the toys attached to his bed. And then it sounds like he’s ripping pages out of one of his books.

I hear a thud, thud, thud, and then I realize he’s tipping over the rocking chair.

I’m sitting up now, but it’s suddenly gone silent. I sit uneasily for five minutes, ten minutes. What’s happened? Is he hurt — trapped, perhaps, under the rocking chair? Is he lying on the floor, exhausted? Is he back in bed?

I think I see a flash of light underneath the door. No… how can…?

And then, dumbfounded, I hear the doorknob being rattled. Chk-chk. Chk-chk.

Is my son seriously…? Chk-chk. Chk-chk.

And before I could answer my question, the door flings open, and E comes howling like a banshee down the hall, waving the Mighty Brite wand so that I see white flashes of his wrathful, grimacing face racing towards me like an avenging spirit.

I was literally flat on my back in fright. I almost fell out of the bed and found myself scampering away from him as he came to the side of the bed and started clawing up. When I got him to settle down and nestle into bed — my bed — sweetly asleep, I could still hear my heart thumping, and I had to laugh out loud, nervously, to force myself to exhale and calm down.

Needless to say, he still sleeps in our bed every night.


Photo Update: Spring Break with Dad

19 05 2009

Dana and I had staggered spring breaks. Dana had hers first, and pretty much as soon as she was done with hers, I had mine. So I took the opportunity to finally pick up the Nikon and snap some more shots of e hanging out with his “abba.”


We started off with a group date with the Schantzes at the Please Touch Museum. I got there a little early and bought a basic membership, which — if you consider how much use I plan to get out of the place in the summer — is a bargain. Caleigh and Zach, old pros at PTM, ran rings round e, who looked shell-shocked.


In the end, Lori left me with e sleeping on my knees, totally pooped.



The next day began with a trip to Ikea. The key for us was to get there really early, far from a madding crowd. e hasn’t had much socialization at this point, and I wanted to take it easy on him.

e’s a little too small for the designated daycare area, but he enjoyed the ball enclave.


Here’s e with the activity kiosk in the carpet section.



A little downtime, just wandering and playing at home.



Spent some time at Liberty Lands park. e is now obsessed with the bulldozers doing construction there currently. I haven’t yet mentioned how I got e his favorite toy — a bulldozer — for free at a thrift store, have I? He can even say “bull-doh-juh” now. He just loves vehicles of all kinds.


He also loves banging against these pipes on this playground set. We’re going to have to get him a xylophone set.



Spring break ended with me and e taking a stroller sojourn into Old City, where we stopped in on Foster’s Urban Homeware. I kept hearing raves about this place, so I wanted to peruse through. Turns out this place is full of neat stuff I just can’t justify buying in good frugal conscience. If you’re not filled with enough envy, though, this is a great place to window shop.

e seemed to like their kiddy corner. He likes chairs his size. And that giraffe sort of freaked him out.


Photo Update: Bye-Bye

18 05 2009

e does say, “Bye-bye,” but usually only after the other party has gone from sight. When a person leaves our home, e will sometimes rush over to the window to catch them leaving. Sometimes I’ll spot him just staring outside to say “bye-bye” to any car that passes by.



4 06 2008


e has still not figured out how to crawl — except in his sleep. We always place in at the head of his crib and find him squeezed into a corner at the foot of his bed in the morning. It’s worth clicking on the picture above; I experimented adding notes to the picture in flickr.


Here’s e eating with crazy hair:


And here’s D and e on Color Day. We bought a Brain Quest board game there for $2. Score!



17 05 2008


I know I haven’t written in a while, and it’s a shame because everyday e is growing by leaps and bounds. Let’s see, what has happened?

* He’s started to supplement breastfeeding with cereal meals
* He got constipated and laid a small, hard rabbit pellet.
* He got a rash, maybe eczema, and we had to clear that up with hydrocortisone cream.
* He learned to roll over! Finally
* He can pretty much sit up on his own now… kind of
* He’s grabbing things a little more handily
* He rejects pacifiers outright and sometimes refuses to suck his fingers when he’s upset
* He says “Da… da… da…” but only when I’m not around

He’s also sleeping more erratically. He won’t go to sleep at night right away, and so I’ve returned to singing him lullabies while holding him until he falls asleep. I have a sense that he’s now a little more alert to the music playing.

He’ll also wake in the middle of the night fairly frequently now and fret. He’s learned how to pull on the cord of his crib toy and will often pull on it constantly until he’s exhausted…



Dana’s Big Three-O

5 04 2008

For Dana, April 5, 2008

So what if now you’ve reached the big three-oh?
You must admit it took you by surprise.
Each day comes full these days when — miney moe!
You turn and learn you’ve earned another stripe.
Things haven’t slowed. In fact, if anything,
Time seems to spin on plates — you learn the grace
As you stumble along, and balancing
Keeps focus in the running, not the race.
But now that you’re aware what day it is,
Just go ahead and let the china fall.
Hell, yeah, kick up your heels and leave the kid
And dishes with the husband. Take no calls.
Do nothing. Cleanse your palate of the clock.
And rest atop your pillowy three and aught.

Dana’s birthday is easy to remember: 4 – 5 – skip the six – 78. Of course, I nearly forgot it.

Gmail Chat on Monday:

Gmail - Chat with Timothy Kim_1207508170331
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

So once it was decided that we would throw Dana a surprise birthday party, I spent the rest of the week getting harassed by Bro-bro and Debs. “Who’s coming?” “We need pictures.” “What’s going to be the schedule?” “You need to get her out of the house for at least a few hours.” “I hope you know the guest list is ballooning.” “We’re maxing out our credit cards.”

Meanwhile, I just kept pleading, “Simple, guys. Low-key. Don’t go over the top. Please?”

On Friday, I announced that for her birthday I was going to clean the house. Yeah, I know it was suspicious, but she bought it. (Turns out she nearly forgot it was her birthday as well).

On Saturday, we headed out for brunch at Sabrina’s Cafe at the Italian Market with Elijah.


We stuck to the brunch specials of the day: I had Apple-Snickerdoodle-Orange stuffed French Toast with berry syrup, and Dana has the Opening-Day Mexi-Burrito. I also ordered a side of polenta fries. It was our first time at Sabrina’s, and I must say, it will not be our last. But next time, we’ll make sure we’ll share an entree — the portions are huge.

Ultimately didn’t stop us from cleaning our plates, though:


I spent some time with e in the car while Dana grabbed some stuff from the Italian Market. Note to self: Changing a kid’s diaper on your lap in a car is not as easy as it might sound.


Yes, his ears are huge. The plan was that I’d get back and start vacuuming. As is typical on weekends, the arrival of food coma radically re-routed those plans.

I woke up in time to let in Bro-bro and Dana’s cousin Grace. I’m cleaning frantically. Urgent whispers in the basement. Flurry of calls. Everyone’s darting in and out on Dana, hovering over her and the baby. And still, she doesn’t suspect. Man, is my wife gullible.

At 4:00, I’m like, “Isn’t he done feeding yet? We’ve really got to go out and take a walk around Ikea.” Dana doesn’t bat an eye. I’m a genius.


5:40, Dana gets a call from Nancy. “Oh, we’re heading home now… Sure, come on over tonight… Mmm-hmm.”

5:55, Bro-bro greets us at the garage, offers to take e in his car seat upstairs. Dana needs to go to the bathroom. I suddenly notice neat rows of other peoples’ shoes lined up in the back room of the basement beside the bathroom. “Hurry up, Dana, I need to go myself.” I try not to look too weird hovering beside the bathroom door.

Washing my hands, I hear: “Surprise!”


I spent the entire evening waddling around, still over-full from brunch and half-nauseous from ogling all the delicious food.


It was Sandy’s birthday, too. She was a real good sport to come and be a part of our little party.


Did I mention our friends are awesome? We’re blessed to know you, guys.


Red-velvet cake from Brown Betty’s. I did indeed un-notch my belt and made room for a slice.


Thanks to everyone — and especially Bro-bro and Debs — for a wonderful celebration. Dana and I had the best time. We’ll have another party in ten years!

Days and Nights with e

26 02 2008


Cough, cough. I’m going to have to take, pardon me, baby steps back to this blog. e is three months old now. He is now 24 inches and 14 and a half lbs according to my own imprecise and unofficial measurements. He has taken his turn in getting sick at the house — it is currently now my turn. He learned to smile and grab at things. Okay, maybe not grab — more like bat around his right arm in the general vicinity of things. He’s able to focus not just on abstract light patterns but also faces, and I think it’s safe to say that he recognizes his mother and father when they appear before his eyes.

Perhaps the most significant development for us is e’s sleep routine. In January Dana and I took a trip — with e — to the UPenn Barnes & Noble bookstore where Dana browsed through the numerous infant sleep guides out there. She also scoured through and other web sites and settled on Twelve Hours Sleep by Twelve Weeks by Suzy Giordano (also now known as The Baby Sleep Solution). Once it came in the mail, she consumed it one sitting and followed it religiously.

We recommend it highly. e now regularly sleeps 9-11 hours a night, with four feedings and two long naps during the day. We kind of starting slacking off the program once we got to this level of comfort with e’s routine. Here’s a fairly typical day for e:

7:00 – Wake up
We typically have to stick a pacifier in his mouth at the last stretch of his sleep at 5:00 or so. I love waking up e at seven because he always greets the new day with a big smile and giggle.

Change diaper, put on new clothes, and feed.

Play in bouncy seat while mom has breakfast.

8:30 or so – Nap
Note that we’ve started to improvise a “double swaddle” technique because e’s gotten so good at freeing his arms in his sleep.

11:00 – Wake up and eat

e is very attentive at this age and can immediately tell if you’re distracted. He’ll get pretty snippy if you’re not 100% in the here and now with him.

12:30 or so – Another nap

3:00 – Wake up and eat again.

And now we’re in the long stretch of the day. In order to get e to go for the long night of sleep, we have to keep him awake from three until seven or so. Like me, e typically starts getting moody and cranky and eventually starts moaning that he’s bored and tuckered out. We have to keep switching gears with him, walking him around, singing to him, placing him under the play mat, putting him in his bouncy chair and setting it to “vibrate,” forcing some tummy time, handing him off to visitors…


Sometimes, though, you just have to be flexible and give him a brief fifteen minute nap or so.

7:00 – Initiate sleep sequence

We try to give e clear cues when it is time for his long stretch of sleep. We change him out of his diapers, put him in jammies or a sleep sack, sing to him, and give him his last meal for the day. We dim the lights and speak in hushed tones. We swaddle him — tight — and give him a couple minutes to settle himself down.

We’re lucky that e’s been pretty compliant with the changes we’ve asked of him. He’s never entirely consistent, but things have been fairly manageable for the time being. We know the rules are bound to change again soon, so we’re just trying to enjoy the situation as it is right now.

[Update: Dana wants me to emphasize that the afternoon stretch from 3-7 is really the key to e having a nice long unbroken rest at night. I’ve found that e and I like to spend at least part of that time taking a saunter around the neighborhood with e in the baby bjorn.]