Great blog by robw77… I couldn’t have said any of it better!

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ImageGeorge Bernard Shaw once described straight parenting as having ”no test of fitness”.  LGBTQ parents are beyond  the “test”  In recent scrutiny by representatives of the Catholic Church and a group of authors speaking at the Heritage Foundation, the raking LGBTQ parents have received has been unfounded, ridiculous, untrue and frankly, bizarre.  At best, it is bitterly unfair.  At the Heritage Foundation, authors Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Dr. Robert  P. George compared LGBTQ parenting to straight parenting and declared  “We should get rid of the idea that mommies can be good daddies and daddies can be good mommies.”  They declared the heterosexual sex act sacrosanct and placed it as the core of the parenting structure.  It is the same theory that the Pope and his team espouse, that the ability to physically make a baby is directly related to one’s ability to effectively parent it.  They would…

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Afterthoughts: what’s x-mas all about, anyways?

So, the post-boxing day (week) sales have all ended, brightly coloured lights no longer festoon every eaves trough and living room window, and I’m left in a contemplative mood.  Figured I’d throw down some thoughts about the Meaning of X-mas

       When it comes to the ‘holidays’ (aka christmas, winter solstice, boxing day, new year’s, etc. etc.), I think most everyone largely fall into one of three camps:

1) Those who shop;

2) Those who pray; and

3) Those who don’t really know what it’s all about (don’t like to shop; can’t be bothered to pray).

       When I was growing up, we’d often spend X-mas’s up in my Dad’s home town (predominantly Catholic; predominantly francophone), and I remember those as some of the best ones I ever experienced.   There  was a feeling of something special going on at that time of year – the carol singing, the snow, the glowing X-mas trees in every living room, the ubiquitous baked goods, the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (who often only saw each other at X-mas, despite living in the same town of population 5000).  Then, there was midnight mass at the cathedral – all the town’s (good) Catholics in their X-mas best, sitting hushed in the dimly lit church as the priest and choir droned on incoherently (ie: French) – followed by Reveillon – a huge, hot meal served after everyone trudged home from church in the snow and dark.

       Now, I am not – nor have I ever been – a Catholic (good or otherwise); nevertheless, when you linked all those events together with a common theme, there was something special – I’d even go so far as to say magical – about the whole affair.  Did you notice that I didn’t even mention presents?  Well – they were there too.  After Reveillon, all the cousins, brothers and sisters (wired to the hilt on sugar and butter) would tear into the presents under the tree, as the adults found a chair somewhere and  fell into food-induced comas.  However, the presents are not what I remember about those times.  Christmas was more than that.

       I grew older, and we grew apart from my Dad’s extended family, as families do.  X-mas with my folks and my sister was still one of the most special times of the year, but it never seemed quite so magical, in comparison to the ones spent in franco-land.  I’m an atheist, as was my sister by default (this was back when she did anything her big brother did), and my parents were devout non-practitioners of their own parents’ faiths, so no element of religiosity ever entered our holiday season.  Once I began to earn my own money, I needed to spend it, of course: I vividly remember spending hours in the mall with my secret little list, buying hundreds of dollars of useless junk for each of my family members.  And as time went on, that’s what X-mas became for me: buying and receiving junk.

       (yes, Mother – it was also about spending time with each other, and enjoying a nice meal.  Now get out of my head.)

       Now, we come to the present (as in present tense, not presents from Santa).  Neither hubby nor I can stand shopping.  Yeah, I know – not terribly gay of us.  On top of this, we have both adopted a sort of non-materialistic philosophy where we’ve realized that possession of crap just ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.  He and I have been purging junk from our attic, garage, closets, etc. for years, and (before we got the boys) we’d reached a good balance in our house of more useful stuff than junk.  Yeah, and then came the boys.  Baby towels, baby cloths, baby bibs, baby socks, baby onesies, baby sleepers, baby blankets, baby crib sheets, baby powders, baby oils, baby lotions, baby soaps, baby ointments, baby seats, baby soothers, baby toys… then wait one year, replace most of the ‘baby‘s with ‘toddler‘s, and start over.  UGH.

       So we have a situation where 1) we don’t like to shop (aka: acquire junk); and 2) we don’t pray (and won’t, even for the sake of X-mas).  So that leaves us as category 3’ers: we don’t really know what X-mas should be all about (combine that with the fact that we’re still learning how to be a family with two dads, and you can imagine some of the conversations that hubby and I get into late at night).

       And finally, we get to our two boys – one of whom has reached the age where Santa and presents and snow make him squeal with toddler delight.  What kind of memories do we want our sons to have about X-mas, when they’re all grown up and writing their own blogs?  I desperately want X-mas to mean more than just acquisition of material goods crap, but I’m not interested in following the rituals of one religion or another, simply because they’ve decided that the season is theirs (hey – it’s originally pagan, folks, plus the likelihood of Jesus having been born on the 25th of Dec – much less in the year ‘0’ is next to nil… but who cares about details?).

       So what’s left, if you take away traditional rituals and presents?  (yes, Mom – a nice meal with family – I KNOW).  Ahem… You’re left with a nice meal with family.  Which is basically Thanksgiving 2.0.  Thanksgiving is nice, but X-mas should mean something… more.  Incidentally, Hubby and I have had a no-presents-X-mas (we forced it on his parents one year).  It sucked.  There was nothing jolly about that X-mas.

SOLUTION:  I think the key is in moderation, and variety ==>

1) Rituals and ceremonies add magic to the season, but they don’t have to be religious in nature:

  • celebrate the solstice;
  • make the Santa Claus parade a yearly event, followed by a nice meal with friends;
  • make a yearly ritual out of putting up a tree, some lights and starting to play X-mas music;
  • make sure to make a snowman, if it snows enough before X-mas day;
  • help out at a food bank over the holidays, or make a donation to a canned food-drive (do this each year);
  • establish a special routine for X-mas day – certain meals or events that only happen on that day; and, speaking of meals…
  • plan at least one nice meal* with extended family and/or friends (see, Mom – I do listen).
Everyone loves a good roast beast.

               Everyone loves a good roast beast.

2)  Presents are fun and exciting (especially for kids), but quality should be the focus, rather than quantity:

  • one special present per kid, with a small stocking stuffer for each adult;
  • make present-buying one of the rituals of the holiday season – a time to go into town and enjoy the lights, music and mood of the season; and
  • make present-opening another, small ritual, placed between other rituals or events, so that it doesn’t dominate the mood of the day (a family walk with the dogs in the woods, followed by presents, followed by a nice family brunch, for example).

 *meals – your X-mas meal can become an elaborate ritual in itself, with multiple courses, courses that only appear on X-mas day, party favours and X-mas crackers, mini-games at the table, taking time to reflect on the year, as you eat, etc. etc.

       Anyways – X-mas is over, and nobody likes to dwell on X-mas after the fact, so I’ll stop there.  But if you’re so inclined, drop me your thoughts regarding the meaning of the holidays, and about how you might make your own Christmas more meaningful in future years.

       Oh… and Happy Belated New Years to you all!!!

2 Dads and 2 Sons ROCK!

Here’s why:

1)  We leave our toilet seat up.  Nobody complains.  We also use only a fraction of the toilet paper that those… other families use (you know – the ones with  two or more genders);

2) We have two sets of shoulders for two little boys.  Nobody has to wait for a free-ride;

3)  We all drink right out of the milk jug – without having to hide behind the fridge door when we do it;

4)  We only need two sets of clothes in our home – one set for hubby & me, and one set for the boys;

5)  No girls means we won’t ever have to send our kids into a change room without us, to the mercy of random strangers;

6)  We can all take a piss in the woods, and never have to worry about wiping with a poison ivy leaf;

7)  Everyone gets the same haircut (done by Daddy): #2 sides and back (we’re talking savings of $50-$100 per month here!);

8)  We’ll never lack (well, once the boys are a bit older) for extra sets of strong arms around the house (I’m talking lawn cutting, wood chopping, taking the garbage out,  bringing the groceries in ‘cuz I’m too lazy to do it myself, etc.);

9)  We don’t have – and will NEVER HAVE (notice my upper-case lettering, sons?) – a closet full of useless shoes; and…

…the final reason why 2 dads and 2 sons in a family rock:

10)  No periods, Period.

       See?  I told you so. 😉

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Taking a Break From it All

Enough was enough.  Diapers, formula, toys everywhere, unending dishes and laundry, driving here there and everywhere for preschool, playgroups, appointments and visits.   Constant (though endearing) nagging by an ultra-high-energy three-year-old (“More Mini Wheats please!”; “Daddy, come play!”; “I don’t want to nap!”; “Bum-wipe please!” etc., etc.), and incessant demands from an eight-month old who had just learned how to grunt commands (translations: “gimme food!”; “gimme that toy!”; “gimme cuddles!”; etc. etc.)…

Phew!

We needed a break.  So we took one.  Hubby got his folks to come down and “spend some quality time” with the kids (aka: “free babysitting”), and we jumped in the car and drove away without looking back! 

Ok.  Well, it wasn’t quite that spontaneous, but an escape from kids never really can be.  Hubby and I had taken a trip this time last year to New Orleans, and it was the best five days we’d spent in years.  It worked out that we’d both have this time off again this year, so we planned a nice trip to New York City.  Of course, this was before Hurricane Sandy.  Not wanting to be total pricks by expecting a city still picking up pieces from a major natural catastrophe to drop everything and show us a good time, we chose to just go somewhere up here – Montreal.

We’ve planned to stay for five days – so far we’re on our fourth, and we’ve had a great time so far.  We’re staying at a B&B in the village, and hubby took it upon himself to organize our every waking moment – perfectly optimizing our tourist experience. 😐  So far, we’ve made excellent use of our three-day Metro passes, gotten in lots of walking and jogging, taken in as much history of the city as we can handle, not to mention lots of awesome food.  Tonight, we will enjoy some music at Place des Arts, then up to the ‘Mountain’ (it’s a hill, but Montrealers apparently get in a tizzy if you call it that) for a jog tomorrow morning, and then back home to the boys in the afternoon.

Some parents we know haven’t had a night away from their kids in six years.  They talk about a feeling of guilt that descends upon them when they even contemplate leaving their offspring, to go out and have fun.  Of course, we also know some parents who still get out two to four times per month, unwilling to sacrifice their life style from the ‘good old days’ of clubbing and drinking.  Hubby and I fit pretty comfortably in the middle, I think.

We both understand the value of taking a break.  Sometimes a break can be as little as one hour – one of us stays at home with the boys while the other goes food shopping (yes, food shopping can feel like a break, if done sans enfants).  Or at the other extreme, a break is both of us heading to New Orleans or Montreal for a week.  Regardless, the time away is undeniably therapeutic and restorative.  As much as I love my boys, and love my house, the chaos-that-is-my-life just gets to be too much at times – it’s all trees, and I can’t enjoy the beauty of the forest.

Right about now – four days into our getaway – we are starting to pine after the boys, wondering what they are doing, and giggling like school girls as we recall their antics – antics which we were not finding so terribly amusing as they occurred.  And just now, Hubby couldn’t resist – he called home just to hear our eldest son’s voice.  Both father and son were tickled pink to hear one another (with our youngest son squealing away in delight, in the background).   And so our trip has done the trick: we are ready to go home now.  Refreshed, renewed and in love with our two little rascals again.

So, take a break from the kids every now and then, eh?  It’s worth it – for everyone!

 

 

 

Breastfeeding vs. Baby Formula

Yeah, so we’re two gay dudes; as such, breastfeeding is pretty much out.  Very briefly after they were born, both our boys’ biological mothers tried to breast feed.  Both women dried up pretty quickly however, for which I was quite thankful – both women were heavy smokers, and the one-and-only time that breast milk was sent home to us by our eldest son’s birth mother, I nearly gagged and had to pour it down the drain.  “Poured out breast milk?!  But think of the poor children,”  you poo-poo’ers out there are saying!  Well, please remember: I’m gay, and I find breasts and/or the fluids they leak mildly revolting.  Best interests of the child or not, there ain’t no way I’m handling a sticky, warm cup full of chunky orange slurpy from some random lady’s boob.  NO WAY.

(ugh, ok – clearing my cache of mental images and moving on…)

Breast milk is undeniably the first choice for a baby, since it is created by humans, for humans.  So, if it is available for your baby (and you can handle it without being physically ill), then by all means use breast milk.  The nice ladies at www.maternalinstinct.ca have thoughtfully come up with a top-10 list of  the benefits of breastfeeding, just to make those of us who don’t/can’t do it feel even more like bad parents:

10 Benefits of Breastfeeding
1. Boosts immune function and may prevent a variety of illnesses
2. May prevent allergies
3. May prevent SIDS
4. Is easier to digest
5. Is made specifically for your baby
6. Is always available, sterile and the correct temperature
7. Is free!
8. May prevent certain types of cancer in the mother
9. May prevent postpartum depression
10. Helps moms get more sleep!

(*Notice the number of may’s in that list [5 of them], as well as the (accidental, I’m sure) absence of the word dads in #10.)

 Health Canada reported that while about 87% of mothers try breastfeeding, only about 26% are still plugging away at it six months later.  The numbers for the United States are a bit different, but the general trend holds.  Everyone else?  Well, we’re mixing drinks like madmen, for our tubby little buggers => between six and eight times per day for the first 4-6 months or so.

I was bottle fed when I was a babe, as was my hubby.  Our three-year old was bottle-fed, and now our youngest is being too.  What harm did our mothers do to us by bottle feeding us, and what damage are we now doing to our sons?  Arguably, I would say none.  I have no allergies, no asthma, no ADHD, and I didn’t die of SIDS as a kid.  Ditto for hubby.  In fact, I would go so far as to say (in my non-medical opinion) that bottle feeding is superior to breast feeding, except for fact that we evolved to be fed on the stuff until we grew teeth (pshaw! minor details!).  And so, in recognition of all the dads, moms, or other parental units out there who bottle feed their children for whatever reason, here is MY top-1o list of the benefits of bottle feeding:

Top-10 Benefits of Bottle Feeding

10.  You don’t need to give your baby vitamin-D or iron supplements, like some breastfed babies (baby formula already has enough of both added in);

9.  Your baby should drink from a sterilized source for the first few months of life – I know my dishwasher’s ‘sanitize’ cycle cleans my bottles properly… but  who knows where that breast has been?!?

8.  You can eat and drink what you like, or take any medications you need, and know that your baby is still getting  the nutrients and vitamins that she needs from her bottle;

7.  Bottles allow you to monitor how much your baby is drinking (short of weighing a mother to the exact ounce before and after breast feeding, there is very little way to keep track of what your little breast-drinking tyke is sucking in);

6.  Baby formula can be used as coffee whitener in a pinch – try asking any woman if she’d mind a pinch for some coffee cream!

5.  Anyone can feed the baby (your parents, your friends, Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to the door [that’ll be the last time they bug you, I can guarantee], etc.), which ultimately allows your baby to bond with other adults, other than just the boob-donor;

4.  When your baby starts to eat infant cereal that calls for breast milk or formula, it’s much easier to just add a scoop of formula than to… squirt in (?) some breast milk (honestly, I don’t even know how that would work!);

3.  When your baby has developed enough manual dexterity, he can drink all by himself (around 5-7 months, each of our boys were able to grasp and lift their bottle by themselves.  This allowed us to place them in their doughnut or their rocking chair somewhere close to us and let them do all the work by themselves while we chatted with them, but continued to do whatever we were doing);

2.  Bottle-fed babies typically eat less-frequently than their breast-fed buddies.  This means that they can go for longer stretches through the night, sooner than said buddies (ie: you get to sleep through the night MUCH SOONER than your breastfeeding friends!);

      and the top benefit to bottle feeding your baby:

1.  no breasts to deal with (Yay!).

       And with that, it’s time for me to get a good (FULL) night’s sleep!

Common Sense Daddy-ing vs. Maternal ‘Instinct’

Common Sense Daddy-ing

Rant!

 

**DISCLAIMER** this will be a bit of a rant.  One of several to come.

 

 

 

“Fathers are biological necessities, but social accidents.”  —  Margaret Mead

Ouch.  What are two gay dads to do, then?  Couple our ‘accidental’ status with our definitive lack of maternal instinct, and you might start to wonder what the Children’s Aid Society was thinking by giving us a couple kids to raise.  You might even conclude that it was tantamount to child abuse allowing not one, but two of us ham-fisted, moronic brutes to get our meaty caveman paws all over tender little baby flesh.

Well, somehow, we’ve managed.  Three years in, and we haven’t dropped them (excessively), sat on them (at least, not by accident), starved them, forgotten them at the mall (hell – we haven’t been to the mall in three years!) or otherwise neglected, abused or mistreated them in any way.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that both our boys have prospered under our masculine care because of the very thing that distinguishes us from the traditional primary caregiver… we are not shackled by any maternal ‘instinct’.

“When a woman becomes a mother she somehow taps into a psychic and connected power to understand the intricate details of another human.”  —  A Mother’s Instinct

Hmmm.  So it’s psychic ability that women have, eh?  And here I thought that maternal instinct was a combination of old wives tales, and what ‘experts’ told impressionable young mothers to do.  No wait – if I were the type of guy who likes to ruffle feathers (and I am), I might go so far to say that maternal instinct was nothing more than a cutsie, antiquated imaginary belief that women hold on to, to keep a degree of mystique around the task of mothering parenting.  I think that the abolishment of the term ‘maternal instinct’ is long overdue… and no – I won’t suggest replacing it with the politically acceptable  ‘parental instinct’, because we’ve already got a phrase that covers it: common sense.

Yes, you heard me right.  Without the benefit of that psychic ability, and not a woman to be found anywhere in our house, we both had to ‘man-up’ to the job that only mothers (apparently) could do, with nothing but the heads on our shoulders.

Hubby and I had an inkling early on that raising small humans wasn’t as much of a big deal as most people make out.  We’d been practicing for several years in fact: early on in our relationship, we bought plants…  and they lived (they’ve even had their own clone-babies).  Later, we got a dog, and then we even got a second dog!  Two dogs were no more difficult than one in fact; things got easier with the second dog, because they pretty much entertain one another.  So what about a human baby?  Well, babies share most of the same basic needs as plants and dogs (water, food, shelter, etc) – indeed, they share a good portion of their genome (about 50% with plants and 90% with dogs) as well.

Yes, yes – I can hear you all thinking “is this guy out of his mind?  A plant and a friggin’ baby!!?!?!?!”  Well just chill: I’m joking.  For the most part.  The part of me which is serious is telling me to remind you that we’re simply animals, just like dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, chimpanzees and rabbits.  We did not evolve to wear diapers, or to sleep only on our backs, or to require sterilized bottles for drinking out of, or to be paraded around in prams wearing frilly little bonnets and booties.  Those are all affectations thrust upon us by our mothers, who had them thrust upon them by their mothers and/or savvy marketing firms.  So where does that leave hubby and I?  Like I said – we just applied some common sense to each situation we came across.  Lemme give you a prime example:

We both know a young woman who had a baby about the same time that we adopted our first son.  We met up with her one week (around the time that our little guy was 11mths old, and had stopped wearing diapers during the day).  She was looking pretty haggard, as she lugged her guy around in her arms (our guy was walking as of that month) and she mentioned that her little guy was having a particularly bad week.  When we asked why, she said that he was suffering from a really bad bum rash, and that he was currently on medication for it, as well as on a trio of prescription anti-bacterial & anti-fungal creams and ointments.  Now we were no strangers to a bit of diaper rash.  Our second son had an inflamed red ring of hellfire around his poor little anus when he was less than one week old.  But did we rush to some emergency room so that some intern could offer us a host of chemicals that would abate the symptoms, but do nothing to address the cause, or offer a cure?  Nope.  First thing we did was whip that nasty diaper off his tender little toosh, then lay him on his front, legs tucked up under his belly and aired that nasty ring of fire out.  Took 24 hours to dry out and for the swelling & colour to return to a more normal state, but it was well on its way to being 100% better.

Now let’s turn back to our young mother acquaintance.  Primed with her psychic motherly instinct, she was dutifully packing those chemicals onto that rash, and sealing it all in tightly with yet another diaper.  I was imagining that poor boy’s infected skin, just cooking inside that wet, airless diaper of his, marinading in that cocktail of pore-clogging spreads all day long.  No wonder he was cranky.  No wonder his young mother was worried sick.  No wonder we don’t hang out with her anymore.  In my books, a lack of common sense is next to criminal neglect.

Quick review: diaper rash comes from where?  That’s right!  DIAPERS.  If your baby has diaper rash TAKE OFF THE FRIGGIN DIAPER.

 Here’s another excerpt from that brilliant article at professorhouse.com:

A mother’s instinct is not saved for times of strife or illness either. There comes a point in most woman’s life when they naturally gravitate to the warm and soft cuddly infants they see in public. For many, this love of nurturing life starts with a kitten or puppy and grows into the undisputable urge and need to have children. The instinct allows a mother to know without asking or researching what to do to take care of a fever or to get a fussy baby to sleep. While dads look on baffled about which way the diaper goes on – women seem to automatically and naturally know these things from the very beginning.

Yeah.  I think it was this paragraph that spurred me to write this post.  Isn’t it wonderful, all my readers of the female persuasion, how you seem to automatically and naturally know how to put a diaper on the right way?  Awwww.  Isn’t that sweet.  I bet you all instinctively know how to keep a lovely home too, while your man is out working all day.  Isn’t the evolution of the housewife a magical and wonderful thing? 

I sincerely hope you are catching onto my sarcasm here.  I  even hope that at least some of you are seething with righteous fury at the antiquated stereotypes being promulgated here.  The thing is, articles like this are still being written to this day.  Everywhere you turn, mothers are pegged as the natural experts when it comes to parenting.  Sure – traditionally, women have done the majority of parenting, but doing something often doesn’t always make you better.  If I started to play golf 24/7, I’d still never ever be as good as Tiger Woods.  Of course, I’ll also never cheat on my wife like Tiger Woods, but that’s a different topic altogether.  Where was I?  Oh, maternal instinct.  Doesn’t it seem that society is setting women up unfairly, by making them think that they should have some sort of innate psychic ability when they give birth?  Because how many mothers do you know, who panicked and fretted and sweated and freaked out when they had their first child, and (not) surprisingly had no idea what to do?  I remember going to a party a few years back, and a woman I knew brought her newborn with her.  The poor thing cried the entire time he was there, and I can still picture that woman gawking at her baby, uttering in an anguished whisper “why are you crying???”

Guess what folks?  THERE IS NO INSTINCT.

It’s just common sense.

(Ok, Mom – and a bit of help to get us started)

ps: exceptions to the rule:

Yes, there ARE some men out there who make a bad name for the rest of us.  I’m ashamed to share a gender with them.

…and as for lack of common sense?  Yeah – there’s a few folks out there like that:

Time to go shoppin’, boys! (part 2)

Ok – you’ve stretched your legs, had a pee, and nuked your coffee.  Let’s pick up where we left off.

(confused? read part 1 and it will all make sense!)

 

3) Things that are Useful but Not Absolutely Required

Many lists suggest these are ‘required’, but hubby and I have found ways around many of them, often using ‘stuff’ we already have around our home.

Change Pad(s): plasticized pads on which you put your stinky little baby, to change his diaper.  We made good use of a pair of them – one for our permanent changing station (guest bedroom futon…), and one for the diaper bag.  Of course, a thick towel accomplishes the same task, though you run the risk of having to wash it right away.

Stroller: we used a baby carrier instead of a traditional ‘baby carriage’; however, we did get a baby chariot for biking.  Consider recommending to your baby’s grandparents that they get a stroller for when they visit, or when you all visit them.

Playpen: we received one of these as a gift, and it came in very handy for son#1 – once he was able to sit up.  It collapsed and packed well, which made it ideal as his bed whenever we travelled.  Can you do without one?  Yes.  Especially with a newborn.

It might keep him quiet today…

Pacifiers: called ‘binkies’ in our house (no, not bikinis.  Read it again).  Our first little guy used these a bit, but he weaned off of them easily (well, I just took it away one day, and after a week of a bit of fussiness, he sighed and moved on with life).  Our second mini-man spits them out if we try to give him one.  I suggest you be very sparring with a pacifier – the less you let your little one use this, the easier it will be to take it away later.  If a baby isn’t fussy, you’d be wise not to stick one of these in his mouth.

Playpad: these come in many variations.  Basically they are like a mobile with an attached base.  Both our boys spent time under one of these, and seemed to enjoy it, but I suspect that had they not had one, they would have somehow survived.

Baby Play Pad

Rocking Chair / Recliner for Baby: some of these are self-rocking, or vibrating at the very least.  We didn’t opt for such decadence.  We received a simple one as a gift for son #1, and used it as a portable bed for when he was very young and still spending most of his day in REM sleep.  As I mentioned in part 1 of this post, babies can sleep anywhere; a blanket on the ground would serve the same purpose as a baby recliner.  Just don’t step on him.

baby rocking chair

Gentle Laundry Soda: perfumes and harsh chemicals can be hard on brand new baby skin.  Save you and you little one some pain and frustration, and adapt your laundry habits just a bit by going for an all-natural soda.  Plus, if you happen to be on a septic system like we are, it’s easier on your system.  We’ve used Nellies Laundry Soda for three years now; I highly recommend it, or something similar.

A Reference Book or Two: keep a few on hand to cover the unknowns, or even to cover each day of your baby’s life for the first year or so.  Of course, the fact that you’re reading this probably means that you’ve heard of something called ‘google’…

keep a how-to book close at hand!

Sleepers: these are like little sleeping bags that have sleeves and zip up in the front.  They have a high cuteness quotient, but a long onesie over a short onesie serves the same purpose.

Scratch Mittens: newborns have no control over their hands, and have long nails.  Together, that equals lots of little scratches marring their angelic little faces.  Hence where these items come in.  Of course, you could always just trim their nails (you’re gonna have to sooner or later.  Why not get some practice now?!)  Plus, lots of long onesies come with a curl-over bit of fabric at the wrist, to cover those claw-like hands.

Bibs: these will become more useful once your joy-bundle is into solid foods.  For the time being, however, you could just use a baby face cloth tucked into a onesie to catch a bit of spittle. 

Car Sun Shades: meh.  Every infant car seat I’ve come across has a cover that can be positioned to block most direct sun.

Gas Drops: we don’t use these.  When our little guys have had gas problems, we’ve had success with massage and leg pumping – a chemical-free way to get the gas up and out… or down and out!).

4) Things You Are Very Likely to Receive as Gifts

People mean well.  Sometimes, the gifts they shower you with* are useful.  And sometimes, they are not.

(*either at an actual baby shower, or because they are irate that you didn’t throw a shower, and then go way overboard) (oops – were we supposed to throw a baby shower?  Hubby and I thought that was only for women)

Anyways, I’ve listed the stuff in this category from MOST useful to LEAST useful.  Feel free to stop reading this category whenever you feel your gag reflex activating (I was forced to stop writing this several times for that reason, in fact).

Gift Certificates: mixed blessing, these are.  They save you from having to store/return/burn crap that you absolutely didn’t want in the first place.  If you get one from that obscure baby boutique across town that is not on the way to anything else, it’ll likely sit with all your new-baby greeting cards in a forgotten pile, until you put them in that ‘memory box’ (memory box = place where you put junk that you feel too guilty about throwing out).

Hand-Me-Downs: “Eww!” you say.  Bite your tongue, sir.  Even if you don’t have a baby shower, I suggest you ASK for these.  Look: somebody else has gone to the trouble of collecting shorts, shirts, pants, socks, shoes, sweaters, jackets, hats, mittens, scarves, snowsuits and boots for you, saving you literally DAYS of tedious shopping at likely dozens of stores.  We have a woman up the road who – unannounced – drops off a bag of little boy clothes every three months or so (whenever her youngest boy grows out of them) at our doorstep.  Hubby and I have not had to go clothes shopping for either of our boys more than three times, in three years.  Oh, did I mention we both hate shopping?

Wash Cloth + Bib + Burp Towel Combos: cloths can be used right away for cleaning and wiping.  Put bibs away until your little drinker is onto solids.  Burp towels will get dirty starting on day one, and continue to do so for a long while!  These are very useful gifts, no matter how many you get.

Packs of Little baby-powder + baby cream + baby shampoo + wipes: good for your diaper bag!

Baby Mobile: a nice-to-have item.  Son #1 liked to watch and listen to this in his crib at night.  If it’ll help your little one go to sleep, USE IT.  Starting tonight.

Books:  board books with bright colours and pictures of animals and smiling babies can help your little guy get used to the concept of reading (oh, YOU’LL be the one reading them to him, btw).  Put any other books you get on a shelf in his room, and come back to them in a year’s time.

Toys: put them away along with those older kid books until he can grab and manipulate them.

Stuffed Animals: see above.  Don’t put them in his crib with him until he’s older (at least 6 months), then – only put a couple in at a time.  For a newborn, stuffed animals could be a suffocation hazard, in an extreme case.

Baby Memory Photo Album: unless either of you are into scrapbooking, just re-gift this.  For yourselves, just upload photos onto an album online (be careful with whom you share it, though, eh?!).

Handcrafted Items (quilts, needlepoint, knitted sweaters, crocheted stuff): Yikes… this is a touchy one.  Either they are well-handcrafted, or not-so-well-handcrafted.  Additionally, they are either made by 1) people who will visit again and expect to see said crafted item; or 2) people whom you will never see again unless you travel to the other side of the country.  Tread carefully.

Porcelain Baby Animal Figurines: ugh.  Here we go.

Personalized Snow-Globes: gag.

Fancy Keepsake Boxes: choke.

Cutsie Picture Frames: heave!

Footprint or Fingerprint Kits: (holding hand to mouth in an attempt to halt bile from splattering my screen)

…yeah, it goes on and on.  There were several reasons why we actually skipped a baby shower; this category alone would have been enough for us, had we known its contents.

5) Things that You Can Really Do Without

Hopefully, the title of this category is self-explanatory.

Baby Wet Wipes: we feel bad enough using disposable diapers.  I refuse to use these (…however, a small pack in your diaper bag might just save the day).

Fancy Pillows and Stuff for Inside the Crib: most health professionals recommend against having anything in the crib anyways.  Keep it simple – just your baby in there.

Change Table: if you feel you absolutely cannot get along without one of these, get one that will convert into a proper, normal dresser after diaper-days are behind you.  Otherwise, just throw a towel down on your bed and be done with it.

Bassinet: get a play pen, or a rocking chair instead.  They will outlive a bassinet’s usefulness by at least one year.

Bottle Warmer: just put the formula in a bowl of hot water for five minutes!

Diaper Warmer: to stop him peeing as you’re putting it on… yeah, whatever.

Bottle and Nipple Brushes: an old toothbrush and a normal dishcloth will work just fine.

Bottle Sterilizer: most dishwashers have a high-temp option on them these days – and you probably already have a dishwasher, right?

Infant Tubs: just take him into the bath with you, or use the kitchen sink.

Crib Wedges: to prop baby onto their side if they have a tendency of choking on their spit up as they sleep… instead, just roll up a burp towel and push it under one shoulder-blade and bum-cheek.

Baby Hairbrush: honestly?  If he even has hair, he spends most of his days laying down, thus will naturally and perpetually sport bed-head.  Pick your battles.

Q-tips: if you don’t have any of these, you won’t be tempted to use them in places they shouldn’t go, like baby ears and noses.

Baby Shoes: if you can’t walk, why do you need shoes?

Designer Baby Clothes: …that he will outgrow in three weeks’ time.  Put your wallet away and back out of the designer baby boutique.  Save your money.

Cure-all.

 Gripe Water: supposed to be for colic, teething pain and reflux.  No clinical evidence exists that supports its usefulness.  However, if you’ve found that Echinacea works wonders for you, by all means, buy some gripe water (deadpan face).

Breast Pump, Nursing Bras, Breast Pads, Lotion for Sore Nipples…: Yay!!! It’s good to be 2 guys!

 

…and the final category:

5) Things You DON’T Need Right Away (but will come in handy soon)

Bigger Nipples: bottles usually come with a nipple that has the smallest hole size.  As your little guy gets a bit older, he’ll want to be able to suck more formula out of that bottle, so you’ll need to stock up on nipples with a larger hole size (our first son moved up to a bigger nipple at 3mths). 

Jolly Jumper: we loved this, and so did son #1.  Gravity operated, jumping baby, jolly parents.

High Chair / Booster Seat: this will be essential when your joy bundle is three or four months of age (whenever you start feeding him solids).  We chose a simple booster seat, that just fastens onto one of our regular chairs.  It travels easy, and you can even throw it in the dishwasher.  It cost us $20.  Or you dish out $2100 and get one of these.

Baby Food: he’s on a liquid diet, guys.  come back to this in three or four months.

Safety Gates: even if your home is only on one level, these are perfect for cordoning off no-go areas.  We decided that ours had reached the end of its useful life when, one day, we caught son #1 open it, walk through and close it behind him.

Outlet Plugs: little caps you push into your outlets to stop hot air and little fingers from going through the holes.  You might already have these, if you’ve had a home energy efficiency test and followed the recommendations to the letter.  Otherwise, if you are adopting and you have a ‘home inspection’ conducted by your social worker, s/he will inform you that these will be needed.

Kiddie Toilet: son #1 – who is less than three – has been going to the bathroom in his little potty for about one year by himself.  “If you build it put a kiddie potty on the ground, they will come”.

 Notes

I.  Money Saving Tips

  1. hand-me-downs are cheap (see category 4 above);
  2. if you are adopting, ask your social workers if there are any places in town that offer discounts for adoptive parents – can save 10-15% in some instances; and
  3. if you guys have decided to ask for gifts and/or have a shower, do your research before hand, and be very specific about what you want, so that you get what you want.

II.  Don’t Forget…

…to call your doctor before the arrival of your baby, to confirm that s/he will be able to take on your little guy as a patient.  Then, the day you bring said small human home, call to book his first appointment (your hospital will probably recommend that baby should be seen by a doctor within the first five days of his life, then on a set schedule for the next two years or so, to monitor growth, administer immunizations, etc.).

III.  Diaper Bag Primer

You will have to leave the house sooner or later after your little dude arrives home,  though it may seem like the scariest of prospects, to go out in public with him (omg – will he shriek, will he be wearing enough, how do I feed him or change him when he’s out, etc., etc.).  All babies should be born with an accompanying bag full of all their essentials, to make their parents’ lives easier.  Alas, it is up to us to put one together.  Hopefully, you’ve chosen a tastefully neutral bag.  If you’ve succumbed to female pressure and bought a frilly little number with flowers and bows and such, you’re gonna be laughed out of the guys change room, the first time you take your little tyke swimming.  Not to mention the utter shame that he will feel for the rest of his natural life.

Anyways – the bag should be at least as long as the distance from the tips of your fingers to your elbow, and have a number of pockets sequestered about it.  Here’s what you should probably have in it when you leave the house, to be ready for most eventualities:

  • extra diapers (min 3)
  • wipes (sigh, yeah – take some wipes)
  • empty ziplock bags (in case there are no garbage bins right where you are, with poopy diaper in-hand)
  • diaper pad
  • a set of those mini bottles of: baby powder, baby moisturizing cream, bum-rash cream, etc.
  • face cloths (a few)
  • burp towels (a few)
  • bib (one should do)
  • bottle of formula, if you intend to feed him while you’re out (keep it wrapped in a towel with an ice pack, then – say you’re at a restaurant – ask for a pitcher of hot water, in which to warm it up)
  • change of clothes (we always carry one short onesie and one long onesie)
  • extra seasonal clothing (hat, mitts, sweater, etc.)
  • bottle of emergency ready-to-drink formula (whether or not you intend to be out very long, sometimes sh*t happens)
  • blanket
  • emergency pacifier (for shrieking baby, or alternatively for shrieking spouse)
  • paper and a pen/pencil (you just never know)
  • …and then some room leftover for your stuff, like a snack, a camera, sunglasses, a book, etc.

    Welcome to your new man-purse!

whew!

So there you have it.  An exhaustive list (well, I’m exhausted from writing it) of ‘stuff ‘ for your forthcoming joy-bundle.  If something you’ve thought of is not in my list somewhere, it’s because I don’t know anything about it (eg: boppy pillow = ughn?!). 

I really do hope this helps some of you guys out there.  Waiting for your little one to arrive is stressful enough as it is, without having to scratch your head about what to stock up on.  And hey – try to make this a fun time too; you’ll only get to do this for the first time once!

Now get that credit card warmed up!