Daddy Duty

Sleep, Eat, Diaper Change. Repeat.

JJ UPDATE

He’s sleeping in his pack and play as of 2 days ago.  He’s simply too big for his Moses basket now. He’s also gotten pretty good at rolling and is sitting up pretty well in his Bumbo seat.  However, I’m not sure how long we can keep him in the Bumbo as he keeps trying to get out of it. He’s sort of ticklish now. I can’t do it, but Claire can!

What else? 

Oh, just read a post about Lufthansa’s new 1st class that makes me want to get on the road again. Instead of having a chair that fold flat and becomes a bed, they now give you a chair and a bed.  Check it out here.

In addition to my first class flying, here’s how’d survive when we arrive at any of these places where you can live for $500/month.

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Winter’s Over

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How does it feel to be a Parent?

NOTE: If you remember nothing else from this post, just keep this top part in mind. Claire and I are happy parents.  We are very happy to have JJ and consider it a very (bitter) sweet experience.  Like all things, it has its highs and its lows, but we’re adjusting well to our new roles and are happy to have JJ in our lives. Really!

Lately, when I’m asked how parenting is going, I have a few general responses depending on the day:

  1. Tired. Tired. Tired. Why’d we do this? What’s sleep? We should have waited.
  2. Great. Fantastic. Amazing. It’s just wonderful. It’s so fun!
  3. A combo of the above two with “I have a new found respect for all of the parents in the world” added in.

I’m torn at times as to how to answer as I feel that people really don’t always want or tell the truth. My most truthful response is: “Parenting is really hard. When he smiles at us and learns a new skill or grows, it’s the most fun in the world. Literally nothing in the world could take our attention away from him and there’s nothing that we wouldn’t do for him. Yet, when he cries wails, hits us (intentionally or not, we’re still not sure), or excretes on us, parenting isn’t so fun. It’s just not.  It’s also challenging, hard, and turns your world upside down. Oh, and did I forget to mention that babies are expensive?”

For some people, if I mention the slightest issue, say “JJ slept 1 minute less than normal,” they jump to say it’s because _____________. For good measure, they’ll also probably say that their little Johnny never did that. I’ve learned to stick to response 2 with this group.

For others, if we mention a problem or a tough time, they assume we have post partem depression and want to call the number on us. They can’t fathom that we didn’t enjoy that we got spat up on and are late to everything. With them, it’s best to stick with response 2 also.

We also have friends who are considering having children or are already expecting and we’re torn between encouraging them and warning them simultaneously. I know the truth scares some of these people, but it’s also good for them to learn from our experiences so we’re torn.

So, why is parenting so hard?

  • Especially as a new parent, you think and re-think things so as not to make a “bad” choice.
  • You constantly think about the repercussions of every action you make as it will impact your child one way or another.
  • Babies don’t come with a manual.
  • Babies don’t care about your work, deadlines, schedule, appointments, or anything. Just plan on being late to everything.
  • Techniques that may have worked for _____ in the past, may not work now. Babies are constantly changing, growing, and learning.
  • You’re forced to think more while simultaneously being more sleep deprived.
  • You’re simply having to juggle more.
  • You lose your freedom as babies are dependent on you for everything.

Loving and caring for JJ while balancing our normal lives literally wears my wife and me out on a daily basis. I have seen many an acquaintance breeze through parenthood with the help of an ipad, cartoons, rice cereal, a pacifier, and a rocker while they played Playstation. I’ve also seen that their children are cross-eyed, have indigestion, are dirty, and have missed nearly every milestone on the growth chart.

My wife and I made a conscious decision to bring JJ into this world and we are conscientiously and methodically doing our best to bring up an upstanding citizen full of hope, pride, love, and joy that we can all be proud of. His future successes will not be a fluke as they will be the culmination of a village’s love, sacrifice, and care!

As for those considering having a child, take a step back for a second and think long and hard about your decision. Just for kicks, do all of these things and ensure you won’t miss them when you have a kid:

  • Go see a movie
  • Eat at a fancy restaurant (The Wynn forbids children under 5 from eating at any of its fine dining)
  • Take a quick weekend getaway using only a carry on
  • Drive a convertible/coupe
  • Sleep in
  • Be on time
  • Watch something scary on tv.
  • Drink coffee/caffeine/alcohol (frowned upon for breastfeeders)
  • Eat spicy/gas-producing foods (frowned upon for breastfeeders)
  • Stay out late (past 7/8 PM), actually just go out

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what’s on the top of my mind. Having a kid doesn’t completely end your life, but it takes a lot more coordination to get out and do anything with or without your child once you have one.

In this age of pedophiles, thieves, and who knows what, it’s not as easy to simply entrust your most precious flesh and blood into the care of someone else. It can obviously be done, but you have to be careful. It certainly doesn’t help that Claire and I are CSI and Criminial Minds fans. When you’re childless, you’re free to do as you please when you please.

Oh, and for the women planning on getting pregnant, remember that during the 9 months of pregnancy, you shouldn’t eat raw food, lunch meats, caffeine (high amounts), most seafood, and you can’t drink alcohol either. Also, don’ forget about the joys of weight gain, cramps in unexpected places, general discomfort, the actual delivery process etc. Pretty picture, eh?

Having said all of this, having your child smile at you makes it all worth it. You certainly don’t forget the sacrifice, but it sure numbs the pain as you smile back at him and know that there isn’t a thing you wouldn’t do for him and that all you want in the world is for him to have a happy and healthy life.

P.S. I fear the day that we will fight. I fear the day that I’ll need to reprimand him. I also fear the day he’ll say something like “I wish I was never born,” “______ is a better father than you, ” etc. With anyone else, I can imagine unleashing a war like no other. However, I already anticipate biting the bullet for the love of my child. Welcome to parenting!

 

 

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How We All Should Travel Internationally

In case you ever wondered why I talk about miles so much and you still think it’s not worth it, I offer this trip report from one of my favorite bloggers. 

He goes step by step describing all aspects of the Asiana first class cabin. The big seat, the food, the service.  I can’t wait to show JJ and burn some of these miles!

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JJ Update

  • He’s awake and ready to go at 7 AM
  • Size 3-6 months clothes
  • He smiles a lot now and laughs periodically
  • He can semi-roll depending on the starting position
  • He’ll sit in the glider, but he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying it.
  • He’ll grab books, rings, and toys, but isn’t fully interacting with them yet so they don’t hold his attention too long.
  • His neck is strong and stable and he loves to look at himself in the mirror.
  • His latest joy is looking at pictures of himself on 2 photo frames set side to side. It’s funny because he’ll go from screen to screen as he waits for the other screen to advance.
  • He shrieks.
  • When lying down, he likes to grab his feet.
  • He’s like a rubberband-extremely flexible.
  • As he’ s still exclusively breastfed, his poop doesn’t stink. TMI?
  • About 8 diapers a day
  • Size 2 diapers

 

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When are you having a second one?

Calm down, there’s no announcement in this post.  I’m just putting it out there since we’re getting asked this a bunch.

Speaking of which, I don’t mind you asking in general. It’s a simple enough question. My typical response is usually light-hearted and will come to the tune of “It’s up to my wife,” “We’ve got our hands full at the moment with JJ,” “We’re not sure,” or “Tomorrow.”

However, sometimes, some pushy people are just plain pushy and aggressive about it like we need to have one now because they said so. With these people, in the far, far back of my head, I’m thinking:

  • “Are you looking to help pay for tuition?”
  • You’re not even married yet/Your child’s not married yet/You don’t even have 1 kid yet/Your child doesn’t even have 1 kid yet and you’re pushing me?

Where to begin? Before we ever had JJ, we had discussed and assumed we would have a couple of children. From my simple perspective, two kids is best somewhat solely based on my own experience. One child seems lonely. Three children results in 2 ganging up on 1 and four just seemed like too many. Heck, when you have to have a special car to transport your family, there are too many. That’s not to say that having more kids wouldn’t be without its joys, however, it’s tough. Just take a look at the Duggar’s grocery stats from TLC’s “19K ids and counting.” They spend $3K/month on groceries alone. Yikes!

Expanding on my own experience, my sister is a mere 11 months younger than me and we’re like 2 peas in a pod.  There’s something to be said for how my parents had the two of us one after the other and basically got the diaper/feeding stage/potty training over with at the same time. Part of me simply wants to replicate this out of sheer convenience. I can’t imagine having JJ potty trained and sleeping through the night later on only to become a zombie all over again with a newborn.

However, there’s another side of me that wants to simply grow into my current role with JJ and put a gap before the next child. This will also give us a chance to rest up and prepare for a second as well as some additional time to sock away the additional funds required.

Did I forget to mention that I’d still obviously need my wife’s consent. Carrying another kid for 9 months and then the great process of labor and delivery-I still don’t know how women do it. Superheroes I tell ya!

For now, let’s leave it at we’re thinking about it and are simply enjoying our time with JJ for the time being.

DISCLAIMER: all of the people I talk about generally here are not part of my family. Apparently, I created quite a stir with my pet peeves post as different family members started pointing out other family members doing those behaviors. Haha! This is not meant towards close friends and family. I’m happy to joke, be frank, and openly discuss and kid around with those close to me. However, the people I’m talking about aren’t close to me, nor are they computer literate and will never find this blog.

P.S. As JJ isn’t sleeping through the night yet, it’s starting to get annoying hearing people ask if he is. That’s probably the one question I can’t stand because it reminds me of how sleepless I am and makes me feel like a parental failure with a bad kid despite my best efforts. When he’s sleeping through the night, everyone will know it. We’ll all be happier. I guarantee it! FYI, If you do ask, I won’t get mad. I’ll answer truthfully and then put my head down in shame. J/K It’s ok.  I’m not that sensitive.
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How to start seeing the world cheaply

Gary from View from the Wing had a post about how to start collecting miles:

Over on Conde’ Nast‘s blog, I offer six tips for folks just getting started with miles and points.

The basics are:

  • Start with a goal, that motivates you and also helps your choice of program. Nothing worse than finding out you want to go to French Polynesia, but United miles only let you get there flying to New Zealand first.
  • Never pass up miles, always sign up for frequent flyer programs even when it’s not your primary program. The miles add up eventually. Lots of programs become easily manageable at a site likeAwardWallet.com.
  • Choose a card that earns flexible points which transfer to miles (Starwood, Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards) and then earn miles for everything you do, I note Gary Steiger’s Free Frequent Flyer Miles is a good resource o make sure you’re earning miles for all of your activity and then EV Reward for online shopping.

It’s a short piece but if you’re new to making the most of miles and points you might check out that post.

Assuming this interests you, his other post on the top credit card offers is another must read.  Credit cards aren’t the only way to get miles, however, they’re the fastest, easiest way to bump up your balances.  That post is here!


  • British Airways Visa 100,000 point signup bonus
    : 50,000 points with first purchase, 25,000 more after $10,000 spend, 25,000 more after the next $10,000 in spend. Fee is $75, they offer a free companion award ticket after $30,000 in spend, and the card earns 1.25 Avios points per dollar spent. No foreign currency transaction fees. Here’smy analysis on how to leverage the signup bonus into being 350,000 or even 700,000 miles. (Note that there’s also an offer which Mommypoints flags that I haven’t been able to replicate, by test booking a British Airways flight some folks are able to get 50,000 points now, 50,000 points after a year, without minimum spend — you wait for the miles and pay two $75 annual fees but avoid a spend threshold for those miles.)

     

     

  • 50,000 American AAdvantage miles for a new Citi Visa or Citi Amex, each no fee the first year and miles awarded after $3000 in spend within four months. And consider getting them both at the same time using the two browser trick.

     

     

  • Chase Ink Bold small business card 50,000 point signup bonus 50,000 points after $5000 in spend within three months, fee waived the first year. Points transfer to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. It earns quintuple points on wireless/telecommunications services, cable and satellite TV and radio, and office supply stores and double points on hotels, gas stations, and with travel agencies, up to 200,000 points per year. The signup bonus on this card may soon require a higher minimum spend so worth grabbing this one soon.

     

     

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa and Mastercard each offer no fee the first year, 40,000 points after $3000 in spend within 3 months, no foreign currency conversion fees, double points on travel and dining, points transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Marriott Priority Club, and Ritz-Carlton.

     

     

  • US Airways Mastercard 40,000 points after first purchase and fee waived the first year. This is from Barclay’s Bank so gets a plus for not being Chase/Amex/Citibank, and is generally churnable — you can get the bonus more than once in a lifetime for this card.

     

     

  • United Explorer 50,000 point signup bonus, fee waived the first year.

     

     

  • 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for a new Platinum American Express card ($450 annual fee, but with benefits that make the fee worthwhjile).

     

     

  • Citi Thank You Premier Card with 50,000 point signup bonus after $2500 in spend within 3 months, no fee the first year. Currently points are worth only 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel, though it’s expected that points will become transferrable to airline miles in the coming weeks.

     

     

  • Virgin Atlantic American Express with up to 65,000 points as a signup bonus: 20,000 miles after first purchase; 2,500 miles for each of the first two authorized users added to your account; 25,000 miles after $2,500 spend within 90 days; 7,500 for $15,000 spend within the anniversary year and an additional 7,500 if you hit $25,000 spend within the anniversary year. There’s a $90 fee for the card, not waived. Virgin Atlantic points can be transferred to Hilton, using them for travel on Virgin incurs some hefty fuel surcharges. A plus here because it’s a Bank of America card, so not Chase/Citi/Amex.

     

     

  • Southwest Visa 50,000 points after first purchase, $69 annual fee, it list this one last because while it’s a big headline number and though it doesn’ have a spending threshold for the bonus, it’s a Chase card and there are better Chase offers in my view and because I’m not excited about flying Southwest.
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Jj go to sleep….

Its 740 am. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing except that we’ve been up every other hour since 1 am. Aaaahhhhhhh! Today’s going to be a long day…

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How Jason became Jason.

Even though we had at least 9 months to plan for a name, we didn’t finally name him until shortly after he was born.  Jason was in our short list of top picks, but it was finalized when we saw he looked “exactly” like me when I was born. Furthermore, I’ve carried this name 29 years and have enjoyed it and believe my son will enjoy it too.  I like how it sounds, how people say it, how people respond to it, how it spells, etc.

Naming Jason was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had as there are so many implications for whatever you choose. Good and bad names have made and broken people. For starters, we literally went almost page by page through a baby name book with some 10,000 names. However, there are certain letters that I didn’t like so I breezed through those pages.

Also, being familiar with a study in Freakonomics, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goGe0CbARDE, which basically stated that a “normal” mainstream name benefited someone more than having a more ethnic or rare name, we knew we wanted a “normal” name. With that in mind, my wife were sticking to a list of the most popular 500-1000 or so within the fast few decades. The problem with many of those names was simply that our networks include many people with those names and I simply didn’t want to think about a certain uncle or friend when I was talking to my son. Having a smaller network would have been beneficial in this situation. 🙂 We wrote down our favorites then further edited them by nickname likes/dislikes, alliteration/pattern and meaning to come up with a short list to take the hospital.  For the trivia fans out there, Alexander and Jason were at the top of that list, but Jason ultimately won out!

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Tools of the Trade

I was recently introduced to the Marpac Sound Conditioner Sound Screen SleepMate Electro-Mechanical White Noise Machine by an old high school friend (Hi Amy!) as a way to soothe the baby and cover up “outside noise.”

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I didn’t even know such a thing existed.  I was familiar with creating white noise and using the vacuum/washing machine/etc to recreate womb sounds, however, this thing was news to me.  I’ve also tried apps on my phone that do roughly the same thing, but I usually need my phone or am hoarding battery so have pretty much discontinued use of the app.

This got me thinking about what items we use on a daily basis that are essential and what we have and/or received that isn’t as important when caring for an infant.  I’m happy to review anything in more detail if you ask for it, but I’ll just start with an overview.

  • Boppy: This is a breastfeeding pillow in case you haven’t seen one.  It’s basically a big, fluffy U-shaped pillow that goes around the mother’s mid-section for the baby to lie on during breastfeeding. We like this pillow now that JJ’s bigger, but we used to like the My Brest Friend below as it’s firmer and was better at keeping JJ from rolling.

  • My Brest Friend: Good pillow, but the back portion started to hurt Claire’s back over time.

  • Lots of towels/burp cloths etc: self explanatory
  • Swaddle blankets: the birthing classes and nurses promoted skipping these and simply using blankes to swaddle.  However, as he’s gotten bigger and stronger, the velcro has has been essential as it keeps JJ bundled snuggly. FYI, if you don’t swaddle (wrap) babies, they will typically awaken themselves at night with swaying arms and random movements.

  • Whale tub: this is the tub we wash JJ in every other day. On other days, we wipe him down with a towel. It’s great, but it seems like he’ll be growing out of it soon.

  • Diaper bagWe started with a basic carter’s bag, but soon found it to be too small.  We upgraded to the Kate spade bag below that is much roomer and has all of the pockets and compartments we needed. Plan on space for diapers, wipes, pacifiers, toys, changing pad, lip balm, sunscreen, sunglasses, outfit changes, towels, an plastic bags. I really like the 2 outside pockets where we put our diapers and wipes for easy access without going in to the bag.

  • Stroller hooks: These are some of the coolest things that I didin’t think we needed.  They are great for holding other bags and attaching stuff to the stroller.  There’s a lot of versions of this, but we have something like this. I think I may be investing in some stronger ones though. These are good for the price!
  • Wipes warmer (Winter): Another frivolous item I originally thought.  As I’ve said before, these are so important during a diaper change in the middle of a Winter night.  A cold wipe on a sleeping baby ensures you’ll be up for awhile.
  • Baby Timer: I know a lot of people use their phones, but we have enjoyed having dedicated timers for each action. You can anticipate diaper changes, nap times, etc based on theses times.
  • Moses basket: Some people use bassinets.  We opted for a Moses basket on our nightstand next to our bed. These are surprisingly expensive for what they are.  They are simply a basket with some cheapy pad and a thin cover.
  • Carriers by Boba/Moby Wrap/Baby Bjorn/Infantino: I think my favorite is the Boba. It provides decent support for the paren and is very flexible for the baby allowing a bit of movement. The Bjorn hurts Claire’s back and is pretty stiff for the baby and is also pretty pricey.  The Infantino is a knock off of a Bjorn type carrier at about a third of the price.  I’d say it accomplishes about the same thing for a lot less money.  Lastly, the Moby Wrap is very comfortable and is a great way to wrap a child.  However, I forget how to wrap the baby when I don’t use it often. It’s basically one long sheet (like a table runner) that has no straps, harnesses, clips or anything. From a time perspective, I’d probably pass on the Wrap although I think it may be the closest to the baby feeling like it’s being held/swaddled.
  • Stroller: We have a couple of strollers, but our main one is the Graco Deluxe stylus. We bought it as a traveling system that included the car seat, stroller, and base. The link is to one that’s close, but not quite the same.  In reviewing the different options, we liked the options and functionality of the Graco.  As one of the biggest baby products manufacturers, there are a ton of options and accessories that work within their systems. They’re safe and readily available.  There are some strollers that look like spaceships now, but unfortunately, they’re usually quite heavy and require adaptors and extra junk to fit with the universal Graco sizing.
We also bought a universal stroller frame that is easier to travel with as it’s lighter weight.  We love it!
  • Lansinoh Nursing pads: so you don’t leak when you’re breastfeeding. Don’t mess with the cheaper brands.  Lansinoh!
Ok, I think that about covers our necessities.  In the next post, I’ll review some optional items and some unnecessary ones.  Did I miss anything?
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