sleep

Growing Pains

January 29, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Growing Pains

I slowly pushed and contorted my way out of the car, minding the door against a bank of snow, eyeing the slick of ice under my left foot. I was very much feeling all my forty-six-and-a-half years as I gingerly walked towards the pale, blue house. The sitter had agreed to keep Jon for a couple of hours while I attempted to eke out a bit of work and restock our depleted pantry.

The worst of the storm was past, and with it the worry that we’d lose power. Yet as we were midway through what would eventually be a full week without school, new stresses were putting my stomach through its paces. A full week (plus the weekend before it) of no school meant lots and lots of hours spent indoors, or at most, on our unplowed block.

I knew it was coming, and did find comfort that we kept the lights and heat (and TV and Internet), but that barely made the challenges any less so. My aspirations were grand — to bake, to craft, to LEGO — but were slowly and monotonously eclipsed by my desire to keep the peace and my wits.

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‘Snapdad’ Creates Adorable Masterpieces While Baby Sleeps

January 12, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

One of the first things new parents learn is the art of getting baby to sleep. And by “learn,” I mean reading books, scouring the Internet, texting your friends, calling your parents… and then winging it out of panic. Whether it’s naptime, nighttime, or OMG-WHY-IS-HE-AWAKE-time, getting an infant to sleep (or back to sleep) can be a harrowing, tedious, mind-numbing experience.

Then there are new dads like Lukas Costeur, AKA SNAPDAD. Since the birth of his son Felix, Lukas has been using Snapchat (and his creativity) to capture the special moments spent lulling his wee one to sleep. With nothing but the Snapchat drawing tool — and a willing subject — Snapdad has begun a whimsical gallery of pop culture baby pics.

snapdad

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The 11 Most Annoying Bedtime Books of All Time

April 8, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Most Annoying Bedtime Books

You’re the parent of a young child, nearing the end of another grueling day. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s…what? A pint (or two) of Ben & Jerry’s? Some TV that doesn’t star singing animals? An adult beverage (or two)? Collapsing into bed and/or your Ben & Jerry’s?

You’ve fed, bathed, pajama’ed and toothbrushed your cherubs. You’re so close to freedom you can taste it. All that remains is story time — then you can enjoy a few precious childless minutes before you pass out and things start all over again the next day. Just. One. Book… You can do this!

But then your little one pulls their selection from the bookshelf, shuffles over and plops it in your lap. That book you hate. The one you thought you’d hidden, or donated to the school, or accidentally tossed in a dumpster. Or you’d meant to the last time it was up from rotation — but of course you were so exhausted and relieved when it was finished that it slipped your beleaguered mind. That book you hate because it’s horrible and you’re weary – and now the final few moments until sweet relief will be sheer torture.

These are those books. Read them and weep.

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The Redemptive Power of Story Time

April 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

story-time

I’ve been going through quite a lot of shit lately. I won’t bore you with the details because we’ve all got details and they’re equally uninteresting to others yet end-of-the-world urgent and/or life-altering to us. And for any of us who are parents, our children are often the primary recipients of said shit run-off. And for any of us who are parents, our children have gained valuable insight (regardless of their age) as to how and where and when to push all our buttons. However I’ve read official research that age 4-1/2 is the worst. True fact.

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JJ’s Room v2.0

January 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

For one reason or another, this post kept getting pushed back further and further down my “to do” list. JJ transitioned from Room v1.0 (crib) to 2.0 (big boy bed) well over a year ago, but as with most things these days, once a milestone is reached, it fades quickly into the distance as he races onto the next.

But lately it feels like he’s trying to outrun his cuddliness phase even faster than usual. I look around his room (and the rest of the house) and see signs of his little body and little mind bursting at the seams — puzzles scattered over every spare inch of floor, several pairs of shoes and stacks of shirts ready for the basement as they no longer fit, a dusty booster seat we only use for “motivation” when he can’t sit still for a meal.

So before he starts redecorating his room on his own (either with robot stickers or a framed high school diploma) I thought I’d document JJ’s Room v2.0.

Pre-transition: I snapped this photo of his last night in the crib. Clearly he’d outgrown it — and this doesn’t even show the oft-seen image of one of JJ’s feet shoved calf-deep through the bars.

sleepphoto

Still, I was going to miss this little cage of cuteness as it represented not just a great way to contain protect him, but also a big step away from babydom.

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Creative Father’s Day Gifts for the Creative (and not-so-creative) Dad

June 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Still at a loss about what to get Dear Old Dad for Father’s Day? Yes it’s the thought that counts, but Dad can recognize a cliched gift when he sees one — especially if he’s the creative or handy type. So forget the grill, take back the tie, hide the hammock… here are three great books to get your favorite father’s creative juices flowing. Or at the very least something to read on the can.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

AWESOME

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Bedtime Battle: A Sleepless Saga in 31 Rounds

March 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

JJAWAKE2


It was 8:49 p.m. on a Monday.
JJ had already been put back in bed 4 times.

.
The following is taken directly from Twitter, on a recent evening when I attempted to apply a technique discussed in the Parenting Preschoolers class I’ve been taking. The process (dubbed “Cold Turkey” by my instructor) involves calmly and silently leading your child back to bed, without making eye contact or conveying any emotion or negative body language whatsoever. Repeat as necessary until stationery toddler is achieved. The point is to communicate that the appropriate behavior is to stay in bed, without giving the attention (negative or positive) they are trying to weasel out of you.

I decided to tweet my ordeal. Partly to entertain myself, and partly to hold myself accountable. If I knew people were “watching” I’d be less likely to lose my mind cool. Because it’s a lot f’ing harder than it sounds.

The players:

@DesignerDaddy (all tweets are by me, unless otherwise identified)
@PEPParent (organization teaching the class and the putting-to-bed technique being applied)
@BloggerFather (fellow dad blogger, who makes a cameo appearance)
Papa (silent, supporting — but essential — role)
JJ (the star of this saga)

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JJ’s Top 10 of 2012

January 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

As with any toddler, JJ’s moods tastes shift like the wind. Make that a whirlwind. But these ten things stood out in 2012 as being particularly popular with our breezy little boy…

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On the Night You Were Born (In Remembrance)

December 15, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

We received this book (as many do) when JJ was born, but I don’t think we’ve ever read it all the way through — he’s either been too distracted to finish the full reading of it, or we passed it over in favor of something with superheroes or dinosaurs.

As usual, it was an ordeal getting from bath to PJs to story time, and I pulled this book quickly from the shelf without giving it much thought. But as I read it to JJ, I began thinking about the 20 sets of parents who’d never get to read to their kids again, and my heart ached. It ached for their loss. It ached for those who survived and the scars they must have. And it ached for how much I love my child — trying as he may be at times — and how devastated I’d be… but I didn’t let my mind travel further down that road. All I can do is hug him and be patient with him and protect him as best I can. And be thankful for every day I have with him.

“On the Night You Were Born”

by Nancy Tillman

On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered,
“Life will never be the same.”

Because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.

So enchanted whit you were the wind and the rain
that they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.

The sound of your name is a magical one.
Let’s say it out loud before we go on.

It sailed through the farmland high on the breeze… Over the ocean… And through the trees…

Until everyone heard it and everyone knew
of the one and only ever you.

Not once had there been such eyes, such a nose, such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.
In fact, I think I’ll count to three so you can wiggle your toes for me.

When the polar bears heard, they danced until dawn.
From faraway places, the geese flew home.
The moon stayed up until morning next day.
And none of the ladybugs flew away.

So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for the geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)

Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)

Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

If the moon stays up until morning one day,
or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
it’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…

For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.

Trip to Italy: Daddy Album

September 24, 2012 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

As promised, here’s the Daddy Album. And this one was even more difficult to winnow down than the Designer Album. Again I went for the ones that told the best stories from the trip, as well as some variety. But I cheated a little and included 12 instead of 10 photos. My loophole is that two of these weren’t taken by me, so YAY, bonus pics!

Perhaps as a surprise to no one, the majority of these are of JJ. So WARNING: if you don’t think you’ll like photos of my adorable tyke charming the entire country of Italy, you’ve come to the wrong place…

Spider-Man and his Nonna strolling through the Bari airport, beginning their week-long adventure together.

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