Conversations about a 4 week old

After a particularly rough night with the new born, Yoshi and I are sitting in the dining room eating breakfast. Vian is sleeping in the bedroom.

Yoshi: Can you check on the baby? 

Me: Sure

*Checked on him to make sure he's still breathing*

Me: He's sleeping with the utmost satisfaction of someone who has stolen two people's sleep.

Yoshi: Haha. *tired and jittery laughter*

Stay at Home Dad - Week 4

TL;DR: Last week of my leave ended with some epiphanies and personal growth. I still firmly believe I'd rather be a stay at home dad than a working dad.

I'm glad to say that I bounced back from week 3 with great success. I finally broke through some mental barrier and felt a strange calm wash over me. I started controlling my emotions better. I still get angry when Sempi does something that I explicitly asked him not to do, but I don't show that anger to him. I use a calm, stable voice to express my displeasure and gently ask him not to do it. I firmly request him to apologize for what he did and it works nearly 80% of the time.

Yoshi has given this advice to me in the past "When Sempi is having a bad time, try to be calm and emotionally stable. That way he can rely on us to find his bearings". It finally clicked for me. It's a simple advice that is hard to follow. But so far keeping my cool has resulted in a reasonably well-behaved kid.

We had a couple of playdates at our place with two different kids. Sempi played well with one of the kids, the other playdate was more like the two kids played in the same room but didn't really bother interacting with each other. So I'd say it was a resounding success.

I took our neighbor's kid (Sempi's school mate) to rock climbing. She was a total champ. After about the 10th time, I had to restrict her climbing so she wouldn't end up with muscle cramps. The abundance of energy found in 3 year olds is incredible.

The strange epiphany here is that managing toddlers is easier when there is more than one of them. I could have just gotten lucky but so far the 3 afternoons with 2 toddlers have been a breeze compared to the rest of the afternoons when it's just me and Sempi. 

Adventures in cooking. I made eggplant rigatoni. I'm glad to say it wasn't a complete disaster. Yoshi liked it a lot.

Yoshi helped Sempi make truck shaped muffins. They were delicious. Sempi asked me to pack some in his lunch to give to his teachers. It was so sweet. Later I found out he ate all of those extra pieces that were packed for his teachers. I should've known better.

My mentor and friend, Graham is in town for PyCon and he brought a Lego Construction Set for Sempi. Sempi was in cloud nine while building his trucks from scratch.

During week 1, I said Sempi still prefers his mom and I have 3 more weeks to change that. I'm happy to report this hasn't really changed but I do have the following conversation to report. 

I do my usual breakfast routine where I sit him down at the breakfast table and put a bib on him while singing "I put a bib on you, 'cause you're mine...". Usually he retorts with "I don't belong to you, I belong to Amma". But today Sempi said, "I AM yours, because we sleep together". I was so moved by his reply, I didn't even have the heart to make some crude joke about it.

A little bit of context. I sleep in the bedroom with Sempi and Yoshi sleeps with the baby in the other room, so we don't disturb Sempi's sleep during night time feedings. Hence his comment about sleeping together.

I'm glad to have the paternity leave end on a positive note. Overall, it has been a very positive experience for me. I now have a better appreciation of what Yoshi goes through on a daily basis. More importantly I got a chance to bond with Sempi that wouldn't have happened without this leave. I went into this hoping to be a helping hand and came away with increased awareness and maturity.

Stay at Home Dad - Week 3

TL;DR: When life gets harder it's because you've just leveled up. I certainly hope so because this week made the first week look like a walk in the park. Novelty of a new stay at home parent has worn off, reality has set in. 

I started the week with a lot of ambition. I thought I knew how to handle Sempi. So I voluntarily decided to level up my duties as a stay at home dad.

I decided to clean the house while he was at school. Putting away the toys and vacuuming took nearly two hours. It's not my first time, but it is my first time doing it without any help. After that I had time to eat some lunch (I didn't have to prepare it, since my mom took care of that) and then it was time to go get him from school. There was no downtime, which I thought I could catch up on the next day. Five days later I've accumulated more downtime debt than I can pay off.  How do people manage to do this without help? The saving grace is that it felt amazing after I cleaned the house. It was satisfying and I felt proud of my work. This lasted a whole day before everything was back to it's disorganized mess and the floors started getting grimy. I started pondering "What's the point of all of this? Why am I doing this?". 

Around this time Sempi decided it was time to push the boundaries with me during bedtime. The bedtime routine is breaking and he tries to run to Yoshi when I start being strict. In the afternoons he insists on staying home and I can't force him to leave the house. This sometimes leads to Sempi interrupting the baby's nap. I'm unable to entice him with playtime and toys. I have run out of leverage and he can smell the desperation. 

I started inventing new ways to use the existing toys. For example, Legos/Duplos are now allowed in the bathtub. I built a submarine which I found was incredibly difficult since they raise to the top due to the air trapped between the blocks. The trick is to build it underwater and make sure you let the bubbles escape before joining two blocks.

Aside from the existential pondering, we achieved some important milestones. Sempi and I biked to a park that was 2 miles away. We both took separate bikes and I'm proud to say we made it all the way to the park. At one point while pushing up his bike through a broken sidewalk he said in a very serious tone "This job is hard work, I don't think I can do it again". I cracked up when he said it, which was met with a stern angry look. We took the bus back, since the way back is almost entirely uphill.

We went to Dozer days on the weekend which gave Yoshi and the baby a break. But waiting in long lines for a 2 min ride in a bulldozer or an excavator wasn't nearly as fun as I remembered from last year. It could be the pouring rain that soaked us wet or it could be Sempi's last minute change of mind to not go on a ride anymore after having waited in line for 20mins.

Sempi started serenading his brother with a song about garbage trucks when he was crying. It was the sweetest thing until he wanted to do it again when the baby was sleeping.

I got to bond with the baby a lot more since he decided sleeping was so last week. I got to rock him, walk him around and let him sleep on me while I sit in the couch. It was nice.

As we enter into the last week of my paternity leave, I'm hopeful that I can rebound from last week, but I'm worried for Yoshi. All this time she has been providing me with support when I needed a break and pulling in the extra load when I start to slack off. But how is she going to do it all when I'm at work? I know parents around the world have done this billion times over, but I can't help but feel a sense of panic.

Stay at home dad - week 2

I now have a rhythm. Things seem to be getting easier.

We're one grandma down. We're managing with just one grandma. :P

I have a whole new appreciation for Portland parks and museums. You might remember that we spent an entire day (6 hours is an entire day in toddler time) at the Children's museum last week. This week we spent an afternoon at OMSI. I took Yoshi's e-bike and hitched the trailer. It was a nice sunny day and half way there I noticed the hitch was rattling. We made a stop at a bike shop to borrow a wrench. The name of the shop was Free Wheel Bikes. I was trying to show him the bolt that needed tightening. He heard me saying the trailer is attached to the bike and offered to get me a size 14 wrench since that fits best with bolts on an axel. When we walked back to his tool rack in measured steps, I realized (to my total surprise) that he was blind. Which explained why that bike shop was the most well-organized shop I've seen in my life. 

We got to do a lot of new activities together. 

We built some electronic circuits. Thanks to my coworker Joe for introducing me to the circuit club called Tron Club. This week we got our first circuit kit and we made some blinking LEDs. He was enthusiastic for about two hours and then the enthusiasm waned when he realized we're not building anything with wheels. I see a bright future building robots with him. :)

Drinking some victory juice after building a circuit with a photo-resistor. 

We went rock climbing at Circuit Gym. He thought that's where they made the circuits, but he wasn't too disappointed when we go there and there weren't any circuits. He loved the slide for coming down from the top. He liked it so much he decided to climb up the slide instead of the rocks. I had to use bribes positive reinforcement to get him to climb on the rocks. 

Enjoying a well earned treat after a tough climb. :)

Weekends are still a mixed bag. Saturday we went to Train day to see a few elaborate displays of model rail road exhibits. Sunday was a mellow day, it was speckled with rough patches but all in all a pleasant day. 

Pizza time. 

I got to bond with Vianvilari some more. We started going on walks around the block. 

Yoshi got some decorated diapers at her baby shower which made diaper changes fun for me. We have some of the best friends.

Stay at Home Dad - Week 1

tl;dr: It is hard and I'm struggling. But if I had a choice I'll be a stay at home dad all the time.

My company offers 4 weeks of fully paid paternity leave. I'm staying home to help out with the new baby. I thought I'd miss working and I did, for whole two days. I was checking my work email and clearing the accumulation, but after that I completely forgot about anything work related. 

The few times I've held the new born, I can't peel my eyes off of him. The little guy wins the staring contest every time. Sometimes I get a stink eye from him, when I take him from his mom's arms. But he's just too adorable to be taken seriously.

But most of my time is spent with Sempi (our first son), trying to fill the time and attention that Yoshi used to provide him. The biggest challenge so far is trying to find things to do with him. He's not a fan of leaving the house (probably inherited from me), but he insists on me playing with his trucks. After a day of playing in the house, my brain was fried from squeezing every ounce of creativity to make the playtime fun for both of us.

I used to take him to our nearby coffee shop to read books on weekends. That worked great when I did it once a week, he flat out refused when I asked him to go two days in a row. 

Tiny emperor on his stroller, being chauffeured to the coffee shop.

Putting him to sleep at night hasn't been rough thanks to Yoshi. She established a nice bedtime routine. Even though reading books in bed was designed to put him to sleep, I'm the one who usually zonks out first.

Weekends are harder if I don't have anything planned. Last weekend I convinced him to go to the Children's museum where he spent a cool 6 hours playing with every exhibit to his heart's content.

Weekdays are easier since he goes to preschool in the morning. We setup playdates after school or go to a park.

Mudpie anyone? 

He still prefers his mom over me, but I still have 3 more weeks to change that. ;)

Did I mention that we have not one but two grandmas at home to help with the baby? I haven't cooked or cleaned in 3 weeks, I can really get used to this.