A Gallery of Dadas

Charlie sees Dada in a lot of places these days. Any dude who looks to be in his late 30s is a dada, and particular figures around the home are, without argument, the renderings of the Dada.:

  1. “This is Dada,” except “Dada has no jammies.”

This morning’s Dada. Also of note, “Dada likes pink medicine.” 

2. “This is Dada and Mom.”

IMG_1008 (1).jpg

Every time he sees this book, he will bring it over and tell me that it’s Dada and Mom. I dig it. There are certainly less flattering images of us out there.

3. “Dada has hair.”


WWE’s Bo Dallas stars as “Dada.” There might be a resemblance in the eyebrows.

4. “Look! It’s Dada!”


Yessssssssss. Real Dada was not keen on this comparison. It remains my favorite.

5. “Play with Dada. Dada has boots.”


C.M. Punk was the first Dada stand-in. Charlie was SUPER excited to find this Dada doll on his shelf one day. I think Charlie believes in his heart that this action figure was indeed made in the image of his father. Andy’s way more into this notion than the Richard Nixon paper doll.

In conclusion, we are all of us Dada.

Toddler Tree


Can you tell how high Charlie can reach these days? Yes, you can.

Can you guess how many times we’ve told him not to throw the ornaments? Let’s see… We put the tree up three days ago, so, I think 65 times?

We were smart enough to go to Home Depot and spend $11.50 on two packs of ornaments that billed themselves as “shatter-resistant.” He’s broken one of them, but in fairness, it didn’t shatter. Our usual ornaments aren’t making an appearance this year, and probably not next year either. Because I am a genius.

Where I am less smart: It took me 65 instances of putting ornaments back on the tree before I realized that I could relocate them to a spot where he could’t reach them.

It’s all worth it, because he’s in love with this Christmas tree. He’s been asking Siri to show him pictures of blue Christmas trees at least once a day for the last three months. (Also: Blue trains and yellow school busses.) But, since he talks like a toddler, there’s often some confusion on Siri’s part. She usually thinks we’re asking for something obscene.IMG_0154

There have been some close calls. The other day, I was relieved to hear her say, “I’m not sure what you mean by ‘show me big tits.'” I believe Charlie’s request was in fact “Show me pictures.” When he didn’t get the results he was looking for, he followed up with, “Show me pictures of–” but he didn’t get the full sentence out before Siri responded with, “Okay, here’s what I found on the web for ‘shit myself.'” As I yelled, “No, Siri! Cancel, cancel!,” six pictures popped up. We shut it down quickly, and I think it was mostly Business Baby memes.

Anyway, Siri’s on time out for the forseable future.

3 New House Rules for Prime Productivity

Starting today, we’ve implemented new rules in the house:

  1. No computers!
  2. No coffees for Mom!

These compliment the rule implemented earlier this week, which was created to add structure to the remainder of my M.F.A. program: No homeworks!

Charlie’s downstairs playing trains with Grandad while I break all the rules. If he asks, though, I’m just up here jumping up and down “wike a kangawoo,” as instructed.

He's tough, but fair.  Now he's gonna drop this pumpkin on the cement to see what happens.

He’s tough, but fair.
Now he’s gonna drop this pumpkin on the cement to see what happens.

Inconsolable: Bluth’s Banana Stand Edition


I mean, it IS a pretty great t-shirt

Charlie will be two on the 22nd of this month. I hear tell that the twos are terrible. He’s been foreshadowing the events to come, most recently with this evening’s freakout. While helping me put away laundry, I pointed out that I was folding my banana shirt, one of his favorites. 


“You don’t want me to put it away?”


“You want me to wear it instead?”

(Through sudden hiccup tears), “Okay.”

So, wardrobe change. He’s down to a simmering wimper, but still clearly upset. You know what would make him feel better, if he changed into a new shirt too, prolly! One that doesn’t have encrusted tomato seeds on it, maybe! So I changed his shirt. 

Fury. Sadness. Confusion. Ennui. But mostly rage, through the wailing tears.

This goes on for a solid 20-30 minutes, unabated. Like, surely I accidentally broke his finger or something during our costume change, but he doesn’t seem to be nursing any particular injuries. He hits me in the boob a couple times, to see if that makes him feel better. It does not. I ask him to use his words to tell me why he’s upset, but there are no words. Thrashing on my bed, where I’ve taken him to calm down, his tears flow like a river. Mouth wide open, I can investigate his dental and tonsil health as he screams. (His tonsils seem fine.)

Grandad comes upstairs to see what must surely be the bookcase that fell upon Charlie and I both, rendering me unconscious and and insensible to the cries of my mamed son, who is screaming like he’s taken a hardback copy of Infinite Jest to the skull. Grandad sees me holding Charlie, both of us conscious and neither of us visibly bleeding, and gives me a “what-the-hell?” look. I explain that I think Charlie’s mad about our t-shirts. Grandad takes him from my arms, and Charlie immediately stops crying. 

The problem, apart from wardrobe design, was just too much Mom. It’s the tail-end of a long weekend, after all. Charlie and his grandad are playing in the basement right now. I’m laying on the living room couch, drinking a beer. For the time being, everyone is happy. 

Charlie is awesome and hilarious, but dude. Get it together, kid. 

8 Tricks for Toddler Naps

Last Sunday, it was clear that Charlie needed a nap by about 9:30 am, and it was further clear that he had no interest. At face value, sure, I’m fine with just running around the house with him and playing cars until he eventually curls up in a ball on the floor and succumbs to his actual level of exhaustion. In practice, in addition to getting pre-nap fussy, he starts to lose control of his gross motor skills while increasing his propensity for risk. At this point, he basically becomes a pint-sized, drunken college kid. He’s crashing into walls while running laps, he’s falling off of tables while trying new dance moves, and he thinks he’s cool to drive.

I’ve got a couple go-to moves at this point.

1. “Yeah, bro, get all that energy out. I’ll turn up the music and dance with you. Then you’ll be tired!” Much like going out on the dance floor is not putting Fratty Joe down for a nap, I don’t recall this strategy having ever worked.

2. Laying down and nursing. 85% of the time, a tired Charlie who starts to nurse is in a deep slumber within 15 minutes. This is a huge factor contributing to extending breastfeeding to 22 months. He doesn’t show any interest in weaning yet, but since this is the magic trick that lets us all have some quiet lie-down time, I’m ambivalent about initiating that process with much rigor on my end. 15% of the time, though, he’ll nurse and then get up and run around like a crazy boy (lately with the addition of yelling “Cray-see! Cray-see! Cray-see!”).

3. A snack. Maybe he’s too hungry to sleep. Let’s all have some carbs.

4. Soothing children’s television. This time I tried Jim Henson’s Pajamimals, which I’d seen two episodes of and didn’t hate. It had some catchy songs about teeth-brushing. It’s about some young Muppets who get ready for bed, face and overcome bedtime challenges, and then sleep soundly through the night. It should be the plot to every television show available to children until they hit middle school. We watched Pajanimals while Charlie jumped on the bed yelling “Cray-see, cray-see, cray-see Jam-mools!” At this point, we’ve been prepping for nap time for three-and-a-half goddamn hours.

5. Modeling desired behavior. Now that I’ve sweat through a dance party, laid down in bed to nurse (which according so science, has a soporific effect on all parties involved), eaten some carbs, laid back down and watched a Pajanimals marathon about how to get ready for sleepy time, I’m pretty spent. And sleepy. So very sleepy. I’ll just rest my eyes a minute.

6. Head injury. Charlie can only hop on the bed with his drastically reduced motor skills so many times before he falls on his head. I wasn’t quite with it enough to make an effective catch.

7. Cry it out. It’s tiring to cry.

8. Comfort nurse. Mom and toddler fall soundly asleep in less than a minute, with The Pajanimals playing on a Netflix loop.

So that’s the simple trick for getting your fussy toddler down for a nap in less than a minute.

Let the record show that I’m now on Day 7 of having the Pajanimals theme song stuck in my head.

A hard-fought victory.

A hard-fought victory.

Behold My Folly: Grad School Edition

I started my MFA in Creative Writing today, because I clearly hate myself. 

It seemed like a good idea when I applied. In fact, it still seems like a great idea, for someone with a different life. Have you noticed, as I have, the rate at which these blog posts have dropped off, at a rate that coincides with the number of forks Charlie has thrown at my eye? Have you noticed, as I have, that I’ve stopped showering on the weekends because I can’t figure out where to schedule it? Have you, like me, been having recurrent stress dreams about my job, wherein everyone in my department has to have programming meetings on a tropical isle while a hurricane comes in and also my parents want to talk about feelings and I don’t know where Charlie is and I forgot to wear pants and am trying to maintain a professional demeanor while acting like this strategically placed beach towel is totally what I meant to wear today and what do you mean I’m in this musical number I haven’t even read the script yet?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you might have been able to tell me that graduate school is a fool’s errand. In fact, many of you have told me this very thing, but I’ve long thought that having a master’s degree is the only sure-fire way to temper my self-loathing. 
In one year’s time, I will officially be Good Enough. 
(Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)
Wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted. 
Meanwhile, Charlie plots my demise. Like he even needs to put any effort into it. 

Party-Time Freakout

We are only shoes and diaper bag away from getting in the car to go to his buddy’s 2nd birthday. But after crying and saying “sleep!” for a while, he’s now passed out while nursing. 



 He doesn’t know the difference or care one way or the other, but I totally want cake, and I want two hours of hanging out with other moms while Charlie wears himself out for a healthy night’s sleep. Instead he got worn out by the primping process and absolutely cannot deal. 

99 Ways In Which My Toddler is Punking Me

It finally happened: This afternoon, Charlie pointed to me and said “Mama.”

This is you right now, probably: “Aw, that’s nice… Wait, isn’t he like 18 months old? I don’t want to be the one to have to say it, but is he simple?” I mean, it’s certainly possible. But, for your consideration, here’s a partial list of other words and phrases Charlie can use appropriately:

  1. "Yes, I'm just writing a list of all the words I'll say before I acknowledge you as my mother. It's LENGTHY."

    “Yes, I’m just writing a list of all the words I’ll say before I acknowledge you as my mother. It’s LENGTHY.”


  2. Dad
  3. Grandad
  4. Papa
  5. Dada
  6. Train
  7. Thomas
  8. Elmo
  9. Cookie (for the Monster, not the baked good)
  10. Dog
  11. Woof woof
  12. Moo
  13. Horse
  14. Elephant
  15. Turkey
  16. [really impressive turkey noise that I can’t begin to imagine how to say, let alone spell]
  17. Sheep
  18. Duck
  19. Quack
  20. Goose
  21. Honk honk
  22. Frog
  23. Pig
  24. Bird
  25. Hot
  26. Coffee
  27. Bath
  28. Teeth
  29. Hair
  30. Eyes
  31. Nose
  32. Ears
  33. Feet
  34. Shirt
  35. Pants
  36. Jeans
  37. Beans
  38. Socks
  39. Shoes
  40. Hat
  41. Bowl
  42. Orange
  43. Apple
  44. Blue
  45. Grass
  46. Tree
  47. Leaf
  48. Flower
  49. Numbers 1-20 (in order, at least up to 10… Then he starts getting creative)
  50. Letters (all of them, but not in order, except H, I, and J. He loves those guys.)
  51. Olivia (the pig from the books)
  52. Berries
  53. Blueberries
  54. Cheese
  55. Cereal
  56. Meat
  57. Hi
  58. Bye
  59. All gone
  60. All done
  61. Belly
  62. Button
  63. Buster (the cat)
  64. Francine (the lesser-seen cat)
  65. Light
  66. Night
  67. Book
  68. Fun
  69. Happy
  70. No
  71. Yes
  72. Yeah!
  73. Phone
  74. Stegosaurus (he abbreviates)
  75. Roar! (What a stegosaurus says)
  76. Airplane
  77. Car
  78. Train
  79. Toot, toot! (Like a train, see.)
  80. Broccoli
  81. Banana
  82. Nurse
  83. Milk
  84. Water
  85. Juice
  86. Cup
  87. Fish
  88. Bear
  89. Balloon
  90. Grey (his stated favorite color)
  91. Cloud
  92. Giraffe
  93. Lunch
  94. Ball
  95. Uh-oh
  96. Olive
  97. Bottle
  98. Stick
  99. Ice

So, yeah. He was able to identify “stegosaurus” before he was identifying “mama.” Let the record show that the list was slightly longer, but that the formatting in this WordPress template starts a numbered list over at 00 if I go past 99.

And, over the time it’s taken me to write this list, he’s gone back to calling me “dada.” I’m pretty sure he’s punking me.