nablopomo

rolling back

This weekend, we, like the majority of America1, set our clocks back one hour. Full disclosure: We actually didn't set our clocks back this weekend. We have one clock in our house, the bedroom alarm clock, that is smart enough to set itself back automatically. It also sets itself when you plug it in. I don't know how it does it and I don't care, but every spring and fall, it's right on.

We have computers and cell phones that set themselves to the correct time. All the other clocks in the house stayed an hour off all day. With the exception of the microwave and oven clocks, those clocks are still wrong. But, for the sake of simplicity, let's pretend like we actually did set our clocks back. You know what I mean.

If daylight savings was enacted to conserve resources and was extended a couple years ago because it works so well, why don't they just stay on it? At this point, by the time Rhiannon and I get home from work on a typically weekday, it will be close to dark and it's only going to get worse for the next six weeks or so. And, instead of driving to work in the dark, we now get to fight the sun just coming up over the eastern horizon. I'd much prefer headlights.

Nothing about this is a win for anyone in our family. Brooklynn loves to go outside in the evenings, which will be harder to do now, even if the weather wasn't calling for cold and snow to finally reach Denver later this week. The only thing we stand to gain is if we can actually use the time change to start getting up earlier in the mornings to get some workouts or housework done. And possibly to  get Brooklynn on a better night time sleep schedule in which she isn't cranky and irritable when waking up every morning. Ok, that's a little bit of win, but still...

Can we just pick a time and stick with it?

When I was in high school, my parents would go around setting clocks back the night before the switch, and you can  still hear newscasters - assuming you watch the news - telling people to set their clocks back. With the prevalence of  electronic gadgets that are connected via satellite and internet, the concept of physically setting a clock back is a little outdated. I even look scornfully at the old-timey analog face and hand clocks that we have in the house: sure they look nice, but they really need to get with the 21st century always-connected society.

Like I mentioned, our bedroom alarm clock automatically sets itself. Between that clock, cell phones and computers, I'm not worried about being an hour off. If it wouldn't be more annoying to see a clock wrong, I would have very little reason to go through the hassle of setting any of the other clocks in the house. That, and it might be fun to confuse house guests in the morning. I don't use them for anything more than checking the minutes as I typically have a good idea of what hour it is. There have been years in the past when I have never changed my car clock. I figure if I'm just going to change it again in five months, why bother.

The hardest part about this time change business is working with Brooklynn. She doesn't know what time really means. She just knows when she is tired, and trust me, when she is tired, we also know it. We are trying to move up her bedtime anyway, so it works out to put her to bed at the about the same time and actually have it be an hour earlier according to the clocks. For the next week, we get to play the "this time used to be that time so I guess it might be the right time to start bath time for the next time we go to bed time" game and try to guess how she'll react.

I know. Confusing.

Do I have a point? Was I supposed to? I'm not a huge fan of change. And changing the clocks twice a year seems a little silly. Like I said, if the savings from Daylight Savings Time are really so great, why not just make it official and stick with it for the rest of the year, right? We're already up to seven out of twelve months and some studies have shown that traffic accidents increase in the week following each time change.

It's actually a dirty little secret; the battery industry wants everyone to change the batteries in all their smoke detectors and giving out those reminders that say "Remember, it's the vernal equinox - check your batteries " just doesn't have the same ring to it.


  1. Our hometown is making the switch from the Mountain Time Zone to the Central Time Zone, so at 2 am or whatever time the clocks officially changed, instead of going from Mountain Daylight Time to Mountain Standard Time, they instead moved to Central Standard Time, which just so happens to be the same as MDT. So, no change. We are now the lone outcasts of Rhiannon's family still living in the Mountain Time Zone (you know, the one that most of the country doesn't care about, also known as God's Time). And of course, Arizona and Hawaii.

let's all get messy

Today, we were invited to the first birthday party of Kaiya, one of Brooklynn's friends. (Rhiannon used to teach with Kaiya's mom.) Whereas Brooklynn never really seemed to keen on digging in to her cake, Kaiya had no such reservations. Once she figured out the cake was soft and sweet, it never really had much of a chance. Digging In

They had a cake just for the birthday girl and a cupcake butterfly for everyone else.

Cupcake Butterfly

I think Brooklynn was trying to make up for her lack of mess at her own birthday (although she did very well using the fork). Now we just have to work on teaching her that attempting to upstage the guest of honor at a party is never good behavior for an invitee, regardless of how great a present you brought. It just isn't done.

So Good

Fully enjoying the food that is presented is very acceptable, so I suppose we'll let it slide this time.

a needed benefit

Since both Rhiannon and I decided to play in our volleyball league again this year (the same league that caused the sprained ankle I am still slowly recovering from five weeks later), we needed a babysitter. In the past, whenever we've gone out on a weekend or even weeknight, we've relied on help from Rhiannon's family, a couple of her former students, or even our daycare provider (talk about working overtime...) But, with a consistent standing night out—volleyball has become our version of date night—and some of those nights not ending until 10:30 or later, it wasn't going to work for us to be dropping and picking Brooklynn up or having young high schoolers come to the house. So we found ourselves a babysitter.

We have a babysitter. Someone who comes to our house on Thursday nights and watches Brooklynn.

Well, last night, she came over after Brooklynn was asleep so she really just watched a baby monitor, but it seems just a little neglectful to leave a sleeping baby home alone for an hour while we go out.  (Yes, that was a joke. We would never leave Brooklynn asleep at home by herself. We make sure she's awake so she knows we left.)

But most nights, she comes over, watches Brooklynn for a while and gets her to bed at a decent time. So far, we've had nothing but good reports about how the evenings go without us. Maybe something to do with the fact that Brooklynn isn't old enough to talk back yet and the fact that most evenings she's tired enough she wants to go to bed.

And we even have plans to possible go out on a Saturday for a few hours. And use a babysitter.

We found a babysitter. It was much needed.

Somdays, I feel really old.

entrancing

We normally don't let Brooklynn watch too much TV or videos. Even when it's on, her attention span isn't all that long. She'll look at the screen for a little bit, 30 seconds or so, and then wander off to play with a toy or find a snack. And then I played a music video for her on my computer. She watched it five straight times. And absolutely screamed when I took her away. Dogs, bright colors, and music she can bop her head to. In the world of Brooklynn, this is one of the greatest things ever.

Zoned Out

Please excuse the messiness of the desk. It will get cleaned soon, I assure you. Brooklynn's eye level is now just above the desktop and anything within arms reach is starting to go in to the trash can.

The group is Ok Go—I posted one of their last videos here. This one is a keeper as well. Check it out for yourself:

Ok Go - White Knuckles

There is one animal that is not a dog. 50 bonus points to you if you spot it the first time watching.

these are the people voting for our leaders

From a small conversation I overheard while waiting for and riding on an elevator: Now all we have to is get these documents over for a few John Hand Cocks and they'll be ready to go.

What did you say they needed? (I wanted to add, yep, I heard it too, but I didn't.)

[separating each word] They need some John... Hand... Cocks. It means signatures.

Yeah, I know what it means, but it's John Hancock.

It's what?

John Hancock. One word, no "D".

Are you sure, because I've been saying it for years my way and no one has ever mentioned anything about me being wrong.

Yeah, I'm positive. It comes from a guy's name. [At this point, I still have faith in the common person.]

I always thought it was from when they used to write with feathers.

Nope, it was the guy who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. His signature on that is famous.

Oh, I guess that makes more sense.

behind the scenes

Each and every month that we've had Brooklynn around, I've written her a letter. Honestly, I have no idea how long I'll keep it up. I guess as long as I feel that I have something to say, I'll continue to say it. Along with the letter, I also include a few selected photos that either illustrate some point I'm talking about or that were just too good (in my opinion) to pass up. In addition, I also post other photos that were never featured on this site. Sometime during the last month (or perhaps just yesterday), we reached over 1,000 pictures of Brooklynn.

I typically print one or two of these pictures out every month and hang them on the wall of my cubicle at work. I've had several people comment that the photos are really good and a few ask about what type of camera I use and how I get such wonderful pictures.

(Full disclosure: many people walk by my office without commenting on the pictures, so perhaps most of my co-workers think the pictures are horrible and subscribe to the "If you can't say something nice..." policy.)

I tell them that I take lots of pictures, choose the good ones, and do a little post-processing on the computer.

All of these are true. I can't make the claim of every day anymore, but we have some sort of photo of Brooklynn on all but a handful of days in her life. I don't get a "good" picture everyday. She's at the age where she's too young to understand the concept of posing and sitting still for a picture but she's old enough to want any thing electronic that we might be holding. This leads to a lot of me backpedaling while trying to keep her in frame and in focus. I've also ended up with more than a few fingerprints on my lenses over the past months since walking has come in to vogue.

I typically end up with 40 to 60 pictures up on the web in any given month. This usually equates to between 10 and 20 percent of the pictures I actually take. There are a fair number that are poorly lit, out-of-focus, or more than a little unflattering. I'm not a pro photographer and I don't work in a strictly controlled studio. Luckily, digital cameras have changed the world for home photography. Want to take 100 pictures of your kid sitting on the steps in one afternoon? Go for it. No film. No waiting for development time. No paying for doubles and then wondering what the pictures that you didn't get back looked like.

So, I take lots of pictures and try to pick the best ones. And then I play with color, exposure, and cropping on the computer. I've changed my workflow a little over the years moving away from Photoshop and image editing programs and more toward software geared specifically to photographers. I currently use Lightroom, and when you see black and white or odd coloring, it's because I thought it looked good. Even just a simple bump in contrast and a small vignette makes photos "pop" a little.

It takes me couple hours to run through a month worth of photos, do my processing, title, and upload them. Being able to look back to photos whenever I want to makes it all worth it. Hopefully you like it too.

And once in a while, I get a little help with the photography. Most of the time, when you see Brooklynn smiling and looking just off to the side of the camera, it means that Rhiannon was standing right over my shoulder to get her attention. Sometimes, she even picks up the camera, and often, these are my favorite pictures.

With Dad

month sixteen

Dear Brooklynn, You are now 16 months old. It's a big enough number that sometimes I feel like I should start telling people you are one and a half when they ask me. At the same time, you are still our little girl and keeping your age firmly planted in the month status seems to enforce the fact that we aren't all getting (in your case) grown up and (in our case) old too fast.

Breakfast

A lot of the milestones that people typically refer to have come and gone. First tooth, first steps, first words. First time grabbing a toy and running away from Mom when it was time to put it away. You know, those things that, as they happen, you think you'll always remember. Then, when a new parent asks you a year later when your kid first started to sit up on their own, you realize you have no idea, because sitting up? Don't kids come with that feature enabled, because I'm really struggling to remember a time when running wasn't the preferred method of transportation.

And so, rather than focusing on waiting for the big, life changing developments, we are in the mode of enjoying your daily growth as the little person in our family of three. I am sometimes surprised at how much you pay attention to what we say and do. You have a small plastic laptop that plays music; the other day, when you and Mom were dancing, she used her toe to hit a button to restart a song from your toy on the floor. It didn't seem like something you would necessarily pay attention to, but sure enough, a minute later you were stepping on the buttons to be just like us.

Laptops

You want the food that's on our plates and you want to the look at the computers and remotes and keys that we use. You want to push your stroller around like we push you. This past weekend, we were outside planting some flower bulbs while it was still warm and you needed to be right with us on the kneeling pad making sure everything was still going according to schedule.

And then, just when we think that we're home free, that all we have to do in order to get you cooperate is model the behavior ourselves, you go and form your own opinions. You don't want to go in the car, you'd rather go for a stroller ride. You don't want to stay in the house, you'd rather go outside and play even though it's almost dark and cold outside. And even if Mom or Dad gets down on the floor to play blocks with you, it sure doesn't mean that a laptop isn't the most tempting thing in the room at any given moment.

Up High

We know that you have your own ideas and understanding of the world. You empty the silverware rack of the dishwasher for us, taking each spoon and fork out, one at a time, and handing them to us to put in the drawer. You also get a little upset when the spatulas don't go in the same drawer as the silverware, enough that sometimes we put them in there temporarily just to appease you.

This past weekend, we were cutting up some grapes for you for a snack. I handed a couple pieces to you before I finished all of them. When you realized what I was doing, you opened the cupboard that has our tupperware and got out the small bowl we use to hold your pieces of fruit. It seems like such a simple thing, but trust me, it's amazing to watch you figure things out.

Cuddled in the Towel

You are becoming quite the little socialite. You spent a good portion of your time in the airport and plane looking at other people, smiling, and waving. You are always a little shy with new people right away, but it doesn’t take much to get you to smile and soon you are much more interested in walking over to see what they might be doing than in anything Mom or Dad might have. And don't even mention other kids, because really, who would need an adult when you can hang with people your own size?

Cousins Kisses So many kids

I hope that we are nurturing your development like we should be. I hope that you will be excited to see snow for the first time that you are old enough to enjoy playing in it. I hope that our Christmas tree and ornaments will make it through the holiday season in one piece. (We did switch to plastic decorations last year, with you in mind.)

Most of all, I hope you feel safe and loved in our house. Your mom and I have had a few conversations recently that it's almost impossible to remember what our daily life was like before you were in it. And trust me, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Pooh Hat

Love,
Dad

you can tell they do this a lot

Things said by the flight attendants on our plane today: - To those of you who listened to the safety instructions, thank you. To those of you who didn't, good luck.

- Remember it's open seating, so feel free to pick any available open seat...  in other words, sit down so we can get going.

- If you see someone cute, sit by them; you might find yourself with a new love interest. If you end up hating them, don't worry; you'll probably never see them again.

- Flight Attendant 1: "With my hawkeye vision, I can see a bag about 5 feet from the front of the aircraft sticking out of the overhead bin. Let's take care of that now so we aren't delayed any further." Flight Attendant 2: "With your what vision?" FA 1: "My hawkeye vision. It's a MacGyver thing."

- Flight Attendant: "What's your baby's name?" Us: "Brooklynn." FA: "You're last name isn't Bridge, is it?  Sorry, you've probably heard that one a million times. No? Well, thank you, I'll be here all flight. Are you going to have more kids? You're not going to do a bouroughs theme, are you? Although, maybe Bronx wouldn't be such a bad name. It sounds masculine enough."

- Welcome to Denver. We'll cut right through the community chest stuff and tell it to you straight: Thanks for giving your money to us. We appreciate it. And we'd really like it if you bought another ticket, say tommorrow.

- (After we both ordered Dr. Pepper as a beverage) Are you all from Texas? No, because that's a Texas drink.

- And remember, federal regulations prohibit forming a line by the front lavatory by the cockpit, so either wait in your seat until you see that the lavatory is open or feel free to congregate in the rear of the plane. We're business in the front, party in the back.

things we are thankful for this holiday weekend

  1. Family and safe travels to see them over the past two weekends
  2. Children's Tylenol
  3. Kleenex
  4. Naps during the day, because we all know who isn't sleeping through the night anymore
  5. Food - too much and too rich and oh so good
  6. Bulb syringe to suck boogers out of a baby's nose
  7. Having a baby to barter for free room and board (Grandparents are suckers for this one)
  8. Other travelers who don't mind when the baby poops on a plane
  9. Other travelers who do mind when the baby poops on a plane (I don't like it either, but I deal with it)
  10. Football, because it entertains Brooklynn just about as well as her dad when it is on TV

happy thanksgiving

The life of the road of warriors continues. While yesterday was our fifth flight with Brooklynn, it was the first on a plane that was large enough to have three seats together on one side, which meant we had to share a row with someone - up close and personal. Yes, Brooklynn is a good traveler, and we do our best to keep her occupied, but there are some people who would rather not sit beside a baby for a couple of hours. Luckily, we ended up next to a woman who was expecting her first baby in four months. So, we got to discuss naming, nursery decorating, and traveling to see family. Also, she didn't complain about the smell when Brooklynn decided to poop on the plane for the second consecutive flight.

On the last flight, we had a row behind us completely open, so it was easy enough to lay her down and change her. And the plane yesterday had a changing table in the bathroom to use - Rhiannon grabbed Brooklynn and the wipes and headed to the bathroom while I grabbed a magazine to read an article I had seen in the contents when I flipped through it. 30 seconds later, Rhiannon was back. She had the baby. She had the wipes. She just didn't have a new diaper.

We figure that this will be the only Thanksgiving that Brooklynn will be content to kick around on the floor while we eat. She did sit on my lap while I had my piece of pumpkin pie and watched pretty much every bite go by. I think she would have been more than happy to take on of the bits off of my hands for me.

long weekend over

In summary: Brooklynn couldn't pop her ears so she cried.

The volleyball team got second - five games in the championship round.

We got to see everyone up in North Dakota.

We drove almost 700 miles, or enough to get from there back home to Denver.

We flew home.

Bump It

Good job, Sarah. Brooklynn says she had a good time, when she wasn't crying or sleeping at least.

Pumped up fan.

2 down, 1 to go

The semi-finals of state volleyball are over. We have a somewhat regular schedule at our house, but that schedule has also included a baby waking up in the middle of the night for the past two weeks. We are just doing a complete schedule reboot this weekend. It's almost midnight and we are just getting her to bed. Yes, she slept on the drive home, but it isn't the normal bath, story and bottle routine we've grown accustom to.

We'll be back again tomorrow, cheering at the finals. Brooklynn doesn't really understand the game of volleyball all that well, but she likes to smile, coo, be cute, and spit up all over her parents. It might not be the best system, but it's our system and the team is winning, so we're sticking to it.

off we go

Brooklynn is ready. (Ok, really, Brooklynn is still sleeping.  Like I said yesterday, she really doesn't do much to help out around the house.) I don't know that we're ready either, but ready or not, here we go.

Bring on the Snow!

And we're really hoping for no snow. We've had enough of that already this year, thank you very much.

late starters

For as much as Rhiannon and I have traveled since we've been married and as much as our travels have often involved leaving at unholy hours of the morning, you'd think that we would learn to not pack so late into the night beforehand. Especially with a baby, right?  I mean, no one would leave everything until the last minute when a baby is involved, because that's just asking for trouble. Apparently, we not only like to have trouble over for dinner, we hand it the keys to the house as well.  Hey, we might just make it to bed before midnight if we're lucky.

I expect to hear Brooklynn waking up in about three hours. Why didn't she help? I was always under the impression that kids were supposed to do chores to pitch in.

real icicle lights

With some of the traveling we'll be doing over the next few weeks, Rhiannon and I decided that if we were going to get lights on our house, we better do it before the Christmas season is over.  That, and the fact that last year we waited until December to get any lights and the selection was pretty picked over. We have LED light strands that allow up to 85 of them to be daisy-chained up to one outlet and they pay for the additional cost in a little over one holiday season. Last year, once we did get the lights, it was easy to put them up.  I don't think we got any real amount of snow worth talking about until sometime in February. Not so this year. It isn't Thanksgiving yet and we just had our second decent snowfall of the season.

One of the lighting decisions we had to make was if we wanted icicle lights for the house or just regular strands. Added cost and the hassle of putting up over 100 feet of lights made the decision pretty easy. Besides, who needs to buy icicle lights when mother nature will do most of the work for you?

Christmas Light Ice Sculpture

starting down the solid path

Tonight, Brooklynn got cereal for the first time. We stirred it up with some water and mixed it in some prunes. I always thought that we would wait as long as possible to feed her "food" rather than only formula, just to make sure she's ready. I'd say that readiness has come sooner than I anticipated. If you've done any reading on babies and solid food recently, there is debate on when they might be ready and how to tell by seeing if they push food out of their mouth with their tongue. Brooklynn has no such issues. In fact, we have to be careful that she doesn't choke on the spoon as she lunges toward it with her mouth wide open.

She had seconds and probably would have had a thirds helping if we would have let her. And then finished off her regular bottle as well. Did I mention that she's around 17 pounds and we can no longer see her neck without digging through her chins first? We're just hoping this is enough food to hold her through the night. Cross your fingers for us.

Who's a Scary Baby?

...and the little one said, "roll over"

A lot of times you hear about a baby or small child doing something for the first time - taking steps, saying words, rolling over, etc. And then you hear how they will do it over and over but never in front of a camera.  Lucky for us, Brooklynn didn't notice I was filming her. Below - the first time she ever rolled over. Considering she already doesn't like to lay on her stomach, this should be interesting to watch as she gets older.

First Roll Over from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

new behaviors all around

Brooklynn is starting to figure out how to use her limbs a little bit more. She will repeat actions over and over if you let her, like knocking over a water bottle. Set it back in front of her, and she will knock it over again. And again. She's learning. Same with her feet; today, sitting on the couch, we spent a good 20 minutes of her kicking a blanket off her legs and me putting it back on again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

And the screaming. High pitched, almost voice blown-out level screaming. Not unhappy or crying - more of a "just because I can" behavior. She got in her practice and then put it to good use tonight when she didn't want to go to sleep.

Tomorrow is a weekend. Maybe that means we take a break from work and she takes a brake from screaming. Do babies understand the concept of Saturday? There are all these helpful parenting books on how to get your baby to sleep and how to teach your baby to read and what to feed your baby. I'm still looking for the one on how to teach your baby the concept of a day off.

wrap your baby in cotton and fleece

Step 1 Step 2 Step 1: Place baby in crib. It really helps to have a baby handy for this step.

Step 2: Place baby's legs in smaller cotton swaddle blanket leg pocket. Remember the nine pound baby that was dwarfed by this blanket? Good, but that baby is long gone. Expect the current version to fight, protest, and be otherwise difficult and squirmy.

Step 3 Step 4

Step 3: Close blanket tabs with velcro around baby's torso. The blanket is sized for up to 14 pounds. If your 16 pound baby has not burped after the latest feeding session, expect projectile vomit at this stage.

Step 4: Move the entire package onto the larger fleece swaddle blanket. Recall fonder times when this was the same size comparison with a small baby and small blanket. Also recall that the small baby pooped three-plus times daily. Remove the word "fonder" from the previous statement.

Step 5 Step 6

Step 5: Insert small blanket wrapped legs into large blanket leg pocket. It's a little bit like putting a small envelope inside a big envelope, only without the bad taste of envelope glue on your tongue.  Unless, of course, you licked the baby in the blanket. But then it's more like cotton mouth than glue. You might have bigger issues than my poor attempt at a simile.

Step 6: Close large blanket tabs capturing arms in the process. This prevents the baby from clawing herself with her own fingernails during the night. Also, her cousin Grace say now she actually looks like a baby again.

Finished Product

Step 7: Exit the room, quietly, carefully, and hopefully for the entire night.

troubleshooting: not just for electronics anymore

In college, I took fun classes - classes like "Analog Circuit Design" and "Digital Logic". We spent hours in labs designing, testing, operating, and, more often than I care to admit, troubleshooting circuits made of resistors, capacitors, and small chips thrown together on breadboards. If I learned one thing about trouble shooting, it's to only change one thing at a time. If you go make changes willy-nilly and suddenly the circuit started to operate correctly, then you still didn't know what was wrong to begin with. Either that, or it would get worse, something in front of you would start to smoke, and you couldn't even tell your displeased professor why you just ruined some circuit components.

How does this relate to me and my life today? No, I don't spend time at a lab bench trying to decode the small colored rings and figure out if it a 5.2 or 520 ohm resistor. I do, however, have a baby, a baby who is malfunctioning.

She's woken up for four straight nights to eat*. Growth spurt? Maybe. Room temperature changes? Maybe. Whatever it is, those red flashing lights in the wee hours of the morning aren't what we like to see.

We've changed how we wrap her up. We've moved back her bedtime a little later. We've played with the evening nap a little. So far, no success. Tomorrow night, we go back to prunes even if the poop remains soft.

We'll get past it, one change at a time. Unlike an electronics lab, the waiting 24 hours between trials makes for slow solution finding. Well, that, and the fact that a baby isn't quite as straightforward as a countdown timer. It's like she has thoughts and feelings or something like that. And she didn't come with an owners manual. Even if she is defective, Rhiannon and I have decided to keep her.

We'll just charge her hourly for those midnight feeding sessions and take it out of her college fund.

*Brooklynn, if you are reading this, thank you for always eating efficiently and going back to sleep without much fuss. If you are going to wake up during the night, please continue this behavior. But please, don't feel that you would miss out on anything if you don't wake up. Your mother and I are not doing anything more exciting than sleeping. Honest.