Bet You Never Thought of These Five Ways to Prepare for a Baby

babd-baby-names-crying-baby-e1333102292894Jim Halpert on The Office said it best: “Having a baby is exhausting.”

So for you people who haven’t had a baby yet, here is a list of things I wish I’d done to prepare before bringing Baby A. home:

1) Practice smiling. A lot. When you’re changing a diaper at 3 in the morning, the last thing you feel like doing is smiling. But think about it, if you’re a baby stuck on your back and some person comes up and starts tampering with your personal space, you’re already going to be a little uncomfortable. So practice smiling in unusual or stressful situations (I don’t recommend doing this when you’re arguing with your spouse). A little smile could go a long way while your baby’s helplessly looking up at you while his southern region is flooding.

2) Learn to do things one-handed. I write and edit books. And Baby A. needs to be held a lot. So I’ve had to quickly master the art of typing with one hand. Move over, Mavis Beacon, I’m getting up to 35-wpm! (Really, it’s like texting on Zack Morris’s phone.) You’ve got to learn to do other things with one hand as well. As soon as we brought Baby A. home, I coined a phrase, “Gain a baby, lose an arm.”

3) Learn the lyrics to songs. I’m awful – absolutely awful - at remembering the lyrics to songs. I sound like this in the car: “Let it go, let it go. Bum-dum-dee-dum-anymore…” So when I’m trying to sing Carolina on My Mind to Baby A., and I reach the verses I don’t know the words to, I start making up ridiculous lyrics that can tend to be offensive or just plain nonsensical. Baby’s don’t need to hear that stuff. And I refuse to do nursery songs because once you start down that road, I know it could take years to get them out of your head.

4) Watch all your R-rated movies before the baby comes home. I’ve always got to be either working, watching something, eating, or reading. And, living the the 21st century, you’re probably the same way. While feeding the baby, watching something is the only realistic thing I can do without making a stinky, formulaic mess all over the couch (“Feed a baby, lose both arms”). It’s generally not a good idea to have John McCane yelling, “Yippee Ki-yay, mother —-er” with the baby nearby. So baby proof your home by getting the R-rated movies out of your system before she comes home.

5) If possible, take a stealth class. When it’s midnight and the baby is finally falling asleep in your arms, you don’t want to be jostling him around while standing up from the couch and walking him to his crib. Learn to move with poise and grace. Learn to open the refrigerator without making any noise. Get good at tiptoeing. Be okay with not flushing until later (just kidding). And, if applicable, learn to craft anonymous notes with cut-up letters to tape to your neighbor’s door telling them to keep the noise down or you’ll set their poodle on fire and leave the remains in their pantry.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you think of any more, share them in the comment section below.

*Note: The picture above is not our baby (ours is much, much cuter – no offense,  baby in the picture). I just googled “crying baby” and choose the funniest one.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were laying in bed unable to sleep (of course, this is before we brought home Baby A from the hospital), and we challenged ourselves to name every movie that we could think of that was about a dog.

We got stumped somewhere between Benji the Hunted and Balto. When we looked it up later, we couldn’t believe how many of those Buddy puppy movies there were. (Space Buddies, Super Buddies, Snow Buddies…) 

Anyway, it was a fun game – for a week.

So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to invite you all to play a similar game:

Come up with as many green fictional characters as you can. Challenge your friends. BUT – you can only post your answers for the ones you come up with in the first 30 seconds! I’ll start; I only came up with three:

Kermit, Shrek, the Grinch.

Go!

Life with My Foster Parents

baby_drinking_bottleHi everyone. So you all read my last post, right?

Thank you for liking my dad’s book’s Facebook page if you did. It makes him look real good to publishers and literary agents if lots of people show interest in his work.

photo-16If you haven’t liked it on Facebook yet, then I hope you choke on your fire.

Sorry, I mean pacifier. My dad doesn’t like calling it “passy” because he thinks it makes him sound girly. So he’s always like, “Want your fire? Here’s your fire.” Then he goes and calls me “girl on fire.” He says it’s a reference to a book I’m not allowed to read until I’m older.

He also calls swaddling “waddling.” I think that’s what ducks do, right? He’s always saying, “Time to waddle you up like a duck.”

What a weirdy.

But Mom’s great, though! She’s so much better at putting me to sleep and calming me down when I’m fussy. Dad thinks I calm down when he makes up weird songs, but really I just want to gather more dirt on him for these blog posts, so I’ve got to listen to what he’s singing. (The other day I was refusing to burp, so he started changing the lyrics to “Let it Go.”:

“Let it go, let it go

Don’t hold it in anymore.

Let it go, let it go

Open up and let if flow…”)

Anyway, it’s been fun here. Dad’s been turning on old movies when he’s feeding me in the middle of the night (apparently he bores easily). And Mom is the ultra best cuddle-buddy in the world. I like her; she’s prettier than Dad. And funnier, too.

Dad says girls aren’t funny, but that Mom is the exception. Her and Tina Fey, whoever that is. I’ll have to check in on that.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend, and, maybe even a warm one! I’m not so sure what warm weather is like, but I’ve heard great things about it. Apparently we’ll be going for walks and stuff. Sounds better than “going to sleep” all the time.

But listen, this is important. Please like my dad’s book on Facebook. And if you have liked it, share a picture of it on Pintrest or something to spread the word. Here’s a couple links you can post on your Pintrest board:

This one or this one or this one or this one. (Here’s my dad’s Pintrest page he just started… and he thinks calling it a “passy” is girly…)man in box

He hasn’t read his book to me yet because he says I have to be a little older. But apparently it’s about this guy who’s life is coming apart and he finds solace (my dad teaches me a lot of words) in this fantasy world he discovers inside a cardboard box. It’s his escape from his family and reality. Which, I don’t get. Why would a guy want to escape from his family?

But apparently there’s giant bugs, monsters (what are those?), and jungle animal attacks. He says it’s like a darker Narnia, or a bigger, better Neverland.

If you’re getting tired of hearing about this book (who isn’t?), take heart. He just finished his second book. It sounds pretty good. And sad. He was weeping like crazy finishing it up the other day. I don’t know, maybe he was just so happy to be done with it.

Gotta go.

Literally. I’ve got to go. Just hope we have more clean diapers somewhere.

Like my dad’s book on Facebook here, and watch for updates on the newer, bigger, better edition coming soon!

Grass, a Children’s Story

 In celebration of spring, I dug into my archives and pulled out this story that I think would be a cute children’s book. If grass could talk, what would it say?

Blade of grassGrass by Andrew Toy

I am a blade of grass.

You might not think that’s such a big deal, but I have a very important job to do. My job is to be a soft place for you to run on.

Being a blade of grass has its ups and downs.

One of the drawbacks is that it’s hard to stand out from the rest of the grass. After all, we all look the same, don’t we?

In the springtime I enjoy watching the neighborhood kids play baseball across the park.baseball

Just one thing, though: If you happen to be one of those kids, please make sure you catch the fly balls, because it hurts to be hit by a baseball.

(But I guess that’s better than when the kids play soccer. A blade of grass can’t really jump away from a rolling ball.)

Lawn mowers don’t scare me as much as you would think. Really, they’re just loud. And I can stand to get trimmed every now and then.

In the summer it’s nice having the sprinklers cool me off from the hot sun. Sometimes the grass around me doesn’t get any water, so they turn yellow from being too hot.

Picnic_EatingOnce, I woke up from a nap in the middle of the day, and everything was dark.

The whole time I could smell fruits and deli meats and fresh baked cookies! (We grass blades have a very good sense of smell.)

When I could finally see again, birds swept down from the sky and stole food crumbs from all around us.

I wonder where all that food came from.

I’ll tell you a secret. As a grass blade, I don’t like dogs.

Dogs leave such big messes! So please, the next time you bring your dog outside on the grass, bring a baggie. I would be grateful.

You know what makes me sad? Sometimes, when it’s bright and sunny outside, no one comes out to play. I’ve been told that that’s because all the kids are inside their houses watching TV or playing video games.

Things could get pretty lonely for a blade of grass.

In the fall it rains a lot so I can understand why no one comes outside to play. But just puddlesremember us blades of grass as we’re trying not to drown in the puddles.

And if you do happen to come out in the rain, don’t step on all the worms. Even though they look like ugly giant monsters, they really are quite kind and help us grow.

fall_leavesAnd make sure to help your parents rake up the leaves, so we too can see the rest of the leaves change colors. (No one wants to be buried under a leaf all day.)

But when the rain and the leaves stop falling from the sky, the air gets colder and every night I get frozen. I’m not as soft as I was in the summer. Now I make sort of a crunch sound when I’m stepped on. No one enjoys playing on something that’s cold and crunchy.

The park is empty for months on end, and even though I’m surrounded by other grass frozenblades, they’re frozen just like I am. So it’s extra quiet outside in the park. Even when the frost turns to snow we all just keep to ourselves and try to get warm.

When I sleep during those cold winter nights, I dream of sunny days and children playing in the park. And when it’s still and quiet all around me during the day, I even long to hear a dog bark. But all I can hear is the soft wind stirring in the snow above me.

But soon, the snow begins to melt away. The sun shines and I can see fellow grass blades standing up from the snow one by one. Suddenly, standing out from the others doesn’t seem so important, and I’m glad we all made it through the winter together.

plant_snowBut when the sun shines its brightest and I stretch my tallest, an ant just might pick me, of all the other blades of grass, to climb up and see the waking world.

And maybe I’ll see you coming out of your house to play.

Be sure to LIKE my debut adventure/suspense novel on Facebook for info on its up and coming second edition!

A Father’s Love

handsofGodParentI always thought it would be easy to be a baby.

I mean, I know I was one once, but I honestly don’t remember a thing about it.

Think about it:

No taxes

No dishes to wash

No homework due

No fight up the corporate ladder

Just lots of food, lots of cuddling, and lots of pampering.

I used to think it would be nice to be a baby, but since taking Baby A. into our home, I’m realizing that it’s not so easy.

Poor girl can’t even hold her own head up. She’s completely, and 100% dependent on us.

For everything.

And if she has an itch on the back of her hand, we have no way of knowing about it.

She’s thinking, Stop rubbing my belly and scratch that darn itch! 

(Except what’s really going on in her mind is, Poeihaoiehagpoei papoe apoeiemb!)

Here I am shoving a soggy bottle in her face, and for all I know she just wants a better look at the picture on the wall behind her.

And don’t even get me started on diaper changes. Imagine being soppy down there, then stripped bare and exposed to the elements, and then having a cold wipey rubbed all over – and all this done by an amateur, and somewhat clumsy, father.

So already, we’re not perfect parents, but we’re doing the absolute best we can.

It’s nice though, that God is a perfect Father. And though we don’t know every single need our baby has, we know the basics.

And God has provided us with the patience and love that we need to see her through every obstacle in her little fragile life.

Seems to me we as Christians have a pretty good resource to tap into for extra help.

And when we need that extra bit of love and patience at three in the morning, I’ve been learning that prayer over my child is a pretty good tool to have to remind me that my job is to love Baby A just as God loves me in my fits of rage.

Welcome Home, Baby A!

baby hand

First off, happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

I don’t remember when I’ve been so happy. Sarabeth and I have been waiting for a baby for a long time.

We learned about our foster daughter a week ago yesterday and took her home from the hospital a few days ago.

A question Sarabeth and I ask each other often is, “What’s your favorite thing about her?”

“Everything,” is always the answer. And we’re not at all exaggerating.

You parents know what I’m talking about.

I don’t need to describe the feeling of her wrapping her hand around your finger.

Or her not taking her eyes off you while she eats.

Or how she reaches for you when she’s crying, and tweaks your nose when you get up close for a kiss.

Or how she wraps her toes around your arm when you’re holding her.

It’s a feeling unlike any other in the world.

Now that Baby A. is home, we love the midnight feedings because that means we get to get up and hold her, and sing to her (Shawn Mullins, the Temptations, and Beach Boys have given us dads some pretty great go-to nighttime songs).

Because she’s still just our foster daughter, I told Sarabeth that if I’m ever angry having to get up to take care of her, to just remind me that Baby A could be somewhere else and not here in our house.

And our dogs! Our two dachshunds, one still a puppy, are so curious about her. I think our little girl has gotten more kisses this week than all the babies in the world have gotten this month.

Luckily she doesn’t seem to mind.

I don’t want these days to pass. I don’t want her to gain another pound or grow another inch.

But at the same time, I’m so excited to watch her grow, and learn, and play, and laugh, and run.

I hope, and pray, that we will have her for all of that. I hope I will get to teach her to drive, chase off curious boys, and walk her down the aisle.

But look at me, getting ahead of myself.

For now, I’m just happy to keep her tummy full, her ears full of music, her eyes fixed on her mommy and puppies, her heart full of comfort, and her hand warm with my finger.

For as long as we possibly can.

Help us new parents out by liking my debut novel on Facebook. (If I get enough likes on it, a bigger publisher will want to publish it.) Liking it will also give you a chance to win a free autographed copy of the second, bigger, better edition coming out soon (so don’t buy it just yet)! 

My Grouchy Morning

grumpy_pop

It’s our tradition to have the news on in the mornings while eating breakfast.

Sometimes I must not get enough sleep, or I’m just a grouch. This morning was especially bad, as I made one sarcastic comment after another about the world news and the people that are screwing everything up.

Sarabeth doesn’t appreciate these comments much, even though I personally think they’re pretty legit – and hilarious. (“They’re neither of those things” she says as she looks over my shoulder as I write this.)

It’s bad enough not being a sociable morning person, but to be a sarcastic and grumpy one – that’s just got to be hard on our spouses. It’s no wonder the pups prefer to snuggle with Sarabeth instead of me.

I forget to rejoice in each morning and be glad, for this is the day the Lord has made.

Instead, I interpret that verse, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us wait until we’re fully awake to be glad. Until then, be snappy and grouchy and insensitive and sarcastic. Even at the behest of my lovely, joyful wife.”

Sigh.

Guess it’s time to rub the milk off my mouth and go apologize. In fact, let’s all do that.

Let the grouchy cynics of the mornings unite.

If you were insensitive to your spouse this morning, fix things up, and do something nice for them today and apologize.

And tomorrow, when we wake up, let’s really rejoice and be glad, because it’ll be another day the Lord has made.

And it’ll be Friday. So really, that leaves no room for grouchiness.

 

 

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