The decisions that we make

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I sometimes wonder if, when I started this little blog of mine, maybe I should have set it up a little more anonymously. Some of the blogs I frequent use letters to refer to their loved ones. Tyler would be T, Sarah would be Ess… You get the picture. I tend to be more along the lines of the full-disclosure type along with a couple of the other blogs I follow. There are any number of reasons why somebody would want to maintain a level of anonymity on the internet. You could have worries about the executives within your company knowing about your personal life. Maybe you work for the shadow government and are under constant surveillance. Maybe you’re delusional, and THINK you work for the shadow government and are under constant surveillance. The list goes on.

My reasons for thinking I should have gone the anonymous route are simple. I don’t want you to call Child Protective Services on me. I don’t want to be exiled from my small town. I don’t want to be ostracized by my friends or outcast from my family. But, in the spirit of full-disclosure, I’m going to tell this story anyway.

Tyler is a brat. Maybe “is” is the wrong term. A better one would be “can sometimes be”. Tyler can sometimes be a brat. He caught a cold last week. As a result, he cried a lot, didn’t sleep very well, and ate poorly. If you were to pile all that into a bucket and take it to your local 4-H fair, it would win Best-in-Show as the “Fail Pail”. Needless to say, we’ve had a rough go of things over the past few days.

Yesterday was no exception. Due to his over-tiredness, Tyler would cry and fuss through feedings, and he fought sleep very, very hard. And, due to Tyler being fussy and over-tired, Sarah was fussy and over-tired. She finally decided to take Tyler upstairs, and they would both (try to) take a nap together, because they both needed it.* I stayed downstairs. I had been vegging out on the couch all day, on account of me being sick also, watching MMA fighting.

Two hours later, the dogs come tearing down the stairs. Ten times out of ten, this means that Sarah is coming down as well. I paused the TV – DVR is modern man’s greatest invention, possibly the greatest of all of mankind – so I could see how her and Tyler were feeling after their nap. But there was a problem; Sarah didn’t have Tyler with her.

After a big stretch, she says, “man, I needed that.”

I reply with, “Is TyTy still sleeping?”

“He. Is. OUT.”

Sarah goes off into the kitchen to start dinner – meatloaf, smashed potatoes, and a fruit salad – and I continue to watch Enoch Wilson beat the snot out of some other guy.

About an hour goes by. I finished watching the fights and was looking through the guide, and I had this… feeling. Staying calm, and doing my best to keep my composure, I start up the stairs, careful to skip the first one because it creaks the worst. I count each step as my foot lands on it. “2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.” And if you’re wondering, yes, I do count stairs everytime I’m on them. It’s my slight OCD kicking in. I could dedicate an entire blog post to the number of steps in houses, buildings, and fire escapes, or on the color coding and design of parking structures. But I wouldn’t do that to you.

Upon topping the final step, I quietly walked into the bedroom. I see Tyler, smack dab in the middle of our queen sized bed, chillin’ like a villian. Out. Cold. I stare at him for a moment, but don’t see his belly moving up and down. Terror washed over me. I sprinted to the side of the bed and knelt down. I stared, senses sharp as a razor. Nothing, no movement. I’m in a near panic at this point.

And this is where you dear readers will say to yourselves, “What is wrong with that man’s head?”

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve got only a nano-second to make a decision, but it seems like millions of thoughts and scenarios have time to swim through your mind? For example, you’re putting away dishes, when a plate slips from your fingers and goes flipping downward to the ceramic tile floor. You have just a moment to decide whether to let it hit the floor, whether to try to grab it, or whether to position your foot so that it will break the plates fall and hopefully save it from breaking into many tiny pieces. All those thoughts go through your head in a flash. Or a dog dashes out in front of your car. You can brake, go left, go right, or go straight. All in the span of a lightning flash, you rationalize everything. Go left and you could get into a head on crash, go right and you sideswipe the minivan next to you, brake and get rear-ended by the Prius that’s tailing you. Go straight, and you take this dog’s life. As morbid as it is, it happens.

Well, I had one of those moments as I tried to see Tyler’s belly move. On one hand, I was petrified that my beautiful baby boy wasn’t breathing. I wanted to (HAD TO) put my hand on his chest/belly and feel for his breathing. I had to put my ear next to his nose. I had to know. My head was swimming in thoughts. Ambulances, hospitals…. worse. But… hold on just a second… on the other hand… I didn’t want to wake him up. If I put my hand on his chest, he may jerk himself awake, and the boy really needed his sleep. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!

Thank the heavens above, I didn’t actually need to make that decision. Just at that moment, his fingers twitched. I let out a deep, deep, quiet sigh of relief. I put my finger on his palm and he grasped it. And stayed asleep.

*I want to note that I’m not calling Sarah grumpy or anything here… I’m just saying that they was tired and needed some sleep.

Tyler makes me sick

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I got home from Nashville on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Sarah tells me that she thinks Tyler is getting sick.


On Tuesday, Sarah and Tyler went to spend the afternoon with Sarah’s sister (Jiillian), Jilian’s daughter (Lexi), and some friends of Jillian. A girls’ night thing, apparently. Well, I guess Lexi, who’s around 18 months old, was congested and moody. For whatever reason, they assumed she was teething, and not a carrier of the black plague, as I would have immediately deduced, had I been present at the time.

With a heavy tone of sarcasm, I can tell you that Friday was a LOT of fun. Tyler cried and cried and cried. And when he was done crying, he cried some more. We foolishly tried giving him a bottle. Tyler has been breastfed exclusively, save one night. Trying to give him a bottle while he is sick is a mistake that ONLY new parents can make. Well, we made that mistake. I had already, in previous days, had a couple issues where Tyler didn’t want to be held or comforted by me. He wanted his mommy, and that was it. Although I know this isn’t the case, I felt overcome with a sense of rejection. It had a profound affect on me. The sum of those instances along with Friday’s drama left me very discouraged. It saddened me to the point that I had to give Tyler to Sarah and head upstairs to be alone for a few minutes. I fully understand that he’s with Sarah everyday, and I shouldn’t take it personally… but it’s hard.

Tyler also decided that he had no desire to be in his bed that night. We didn’t want to lie him flat anyway. We wanted to prop him up somehow so that he could breathe a little easier. I didn’t see an easy way to do that at the time, so Sarah decided to just let him sleep in our bed. I wasn’t planning on going to bed for another hour or so, so I opted to just sleep on the couch, because I didn’t want to possibly wake Tyler when I came up.

I spent the next half an hour searching around on Google for sick babies. At 11:40p, I made a run up to Walmart to pick up some Vicks BabyRub. As I’m trying to navigate the many shelves and racks of medication, an announcement comes over the speaker system.

“The registers will shut down in 5 minutes. Please complete your purchases by then. The store will re-open at 12:05 am.”

Excuse me? The sign on the front of the building CLEARLY states that they are open 24 hours a day. I’ve worked in retail before. It was a horrible experience, but it has afforded me the knowledge of how retail operations work. I assume that Walmart needs to poll their registers every night, and need to balance their tills. Luckily for me, an employee – that looked like she had absolutely no desire to be there – happened by. I asked for help, and she took me to the baby medicine section. I grabbed the Vicks BabyRub, and hightailed it to the registers.

I’m sure that our particular Walmart is just like most of the others out there, but let me set this up anyway. There are around 35 registers. Eight of them are the cursed “self checkout” registers that rarely work. My two major gripes with the self checkout registers at Walmart are as follows:

1) There is no limit on how many items you can bring through. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen people with carts that are absolutely overflowing with food and clothes trying to check themselves out.
2) It’s always the people that DON’T know how to use the self checkout that end up using the self checkout. The one employee overlooking all of the self checkout registers seems to loathe their job more than the zombie-lady that helped me find the Vicks BabyRub, and has no intention of helping the person until they’ve been standing there, swiping the wrong barcode for at least 5 minutes.
3) I know I said I’ve got 2 gripes, but I’ve got to get this one in there too… I HATE the software that runs those systems. If you so much as breathe on the bagging area it starts barking commands at you to remove the last bagged item. You do so, and it just freezes and the stupid red light starts flashing – notifying the sole employee to actually take 3 or 4 steps over to you to help you. You know, effectively ruining their entire day.

But guess what??? Out of the 35 registers at Walmart, only 1 is open at 11:45pm. I am THE LAST PERSON in line, and I’ve only got one freaking item. When it’s my turn to check out, the guy at the register tells me that he needs to shut down and that I’ll need to wait 15 minutes before I can ring out.

I gave him the I-know-you’re-joking-but-am-really-not-in-the-mood-for-it look, and quickly realized that he wasn’t joking. I was in no mood whatsoever to get into a discussion with him about it so – as politely as I could – I said, “I’ve got a sick baby at home. Either you’re going to sell this to me right now, or I’m walking out with it.”

He looks over his shoulder to a lady that I never even saw. I assume she must have been his manager. She had a tone that made me think that she believed this cashier to be the dumbest man on the planet. She said, “Yes, ring him out.” I can’t do it justice in type, but she was less than pleased that he said I’d have to wait. Either that, or she played it off really well.

The Vicks BabyRub seemed to have made a world of difference. Unfortunately, I seem to have caught whatever it is that Tyler caught. My throat is all scratchy and sore right now. Chloraseptic spray isn’t doing much good, but it never really does anyway. That crap only works for about 5 seconds, yet it’s one of the first things I reach for when I get a sore throat.

And I feel so bad for Sarah, because I’m the biggest baby in the WORLD when I’m sick.

When in Rome… go to the hospital

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Do you mind if I do a non-Tyler, non-parenthood post today?

I had to fly to Nashville, TN on Tuesday. With the work that I do, I don’t necessarily have co-workers. I work alone 99% of the time. So do all the other reps around the country. So, our region has quarterly meetings where we all get together, go over numbers, and hang out. This quarterly meeting was in Tennessee. All in all, it was a good time.

I get there Tuesday around 11am. After getting hotel rooms figured out (what a FUBAR situation that was), we all had lunch. Pulled pork, grilled chicken, beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and some type of apple dessert. Yum yum. After lunch, we had a couple meetings, then a friendly competition. I threw the competition. I feel bad in hindsight. I didn’t want to win, but I also didn’t want to lose. We placed dead last because of my sand-bagging. Whoops! Then we had one-on-one meetings with our managers to go over our individual numbers/performance.

Once this was out of the way, we headed to our rooms, changed into casual clothing and waited for dinner time. A few of us went to the Applebees that was in the hotel. I had one drink. This was at 5:30pm.

At 6p, we all hopped in taxis and drove to a restaurant called “The Aquarium”. Obviously, it was a seafood restaurant. I’m not a fan of seafood. Sometimes, Sarah makes telapia which I find quite tasty. Aside from that, I steer clear of seafood. I just don’t like it. I decided that I was going to take a chance this day though. Whenever I find myself at a seafood restaurant, I get chicken, or a salad. This day, I got the Sirloin and Shrimp dinner (sometimes called a surf-n-turf).

The appetizers came out first. I couldn’t even begin to name what all was there. I had bruschetta bread with some type of crab/cheese dip. Man it was good! When the food came out, I ate my Sirloin because it was delicious! I only ate about 4 shrimp though, because I just don’t find it as tasty. I had 2 drinks at the restaurant.

I should mention that my “drinks” are Captain Morgan & Coke, with a splash of grenadine (for a cherry coke taste).

After “The Aquarium” we all head over to Dave & Busters. I’d never heard of Dave & Busters before. So, if you’re like me, you need an explanation. Dave & Busters is an arcade for adults. They’ve got a ton of arcade games (video games, racing games, crane games, skiball, etc), but in a bar setting. I had 3 drinks here. I spent most of the night playing Daytona USA with 7 other guys. It turned out to be more of a demolition derby than actual racing, but it was a great time.

We left around 11p, because we used up all the credits that our managers gave us. The plan was to head back to the hotel. Those of us that wanted to crash could head up to their rooms, the rest would head back to Applebees.

The taxi ride (mini-van with about 5 of us in each taxi) is about 10 minutes long. On the way back to the hotel, my right cheek started itching. I didn’t think anything of it. About the time that we’re pulling up to the hotel, I rub my palm along my cheek and notice that it feels bumpy. When we got out of the cab and into the lobby of the hotel, I ask one of the guys if my face looks funny. His facial expression said enough, but he must not have realized that because, in addition to the look of horror on his face, he says, “HOLY S**T!!”

What followed was a bunch of pointing and commenting by the rest of my taxi-mates.

Physically, I felt fine. I had a slight buzz going. I only had 6 drinks over the course of 6 hours, so I was doing just fine. On the advice of my manager, I got two Benadryl pills from the front desk and took them. Aside from my less than appealing appearance, and some itching, I felt great, so I went to Applebees. I only had water while here. About 10 minutes in, the itching was much, much worse. And I noticed that there was some swelling at the corners of my mouth. The word “hospital” was mentioned a few times. Sometimes to my face, other times as part of another conversation (about me) that I wasn’t involved in. One of the people there was scared to be near me. Another guy said my face looked like a tomato, but covered in bumps.

I decided to check out the damage. A look of sheer terror washed over my face when I looked in the mirror. I only wish I would have had the presence of thought to have a camera nearby. My face was COVERED in bumps, and completely red. My neck was also covered. COVERED! I didn’t check below the waist, because I didn’t want to drop my trousers in front of a mirror in a hotel bathroom. I did lift my shirt though. My back was rather nasty and riddled with bumps, and my front side had about 10 or so. My face and neck were the worst though. There were some bumps on my arms as well.

My manager, and the manager of our sister region met me just outside of the bathroom. I’d never had anything like this happen to be before, so I was open to suggestions. They both said “hospital”. I still felt pretty good, so we (me and my manager) decided against calling an ambulance, and opted for a taxi instead. We went to the local hospital’s Emergency department. I filled out the information and waited. As I’m sitting in the waiting room, I noticed that I was starting to have difficulty swallowing. I immediately concentrated on my breathing and noticed it was a little raspy and wasn’t as easy to do anymore.

I mentioned to the very nice lady at the desk that my throat was starting to swell a bit. Within about, oh, 2 seconds, I was being taken to Emergency. A guy comes in with some pills and needles. We tell him that I’d already taken 25mg of Benedryl beforehand. He says “Well, you’re about to get some more then.” He gives me a Prednisone pill, and 2 Pepcid (because the Prednisone is hard on the stomach). He is then having a conversation with my manager about the stretchers at the hospital (we work for the company that makes them). I’m listening, but not really participating, because I’m not feeling so hot. Suddenly, and without warning, the guy (without ever even taking his eyes off my manager) stabs the needle into my shoulder.

It’s hard to explain the feeling. It wasn’t pain, exactly, but it sure as heck wasn’t peaches and lollipops either. It felt like someone punched me real good in the arm. Then, a crampy feeling started moving its way down my arm, all the way to my finger tips. It was extremely uncomfortable. Within seconds, I was a zombie. At one point, I am certain that I was sleeping with my eyes open. But the itching disappeared within about 1 second of getting the shot. The swelling in my throat and lips was gone within seconds as well. The bumps stuck around for a bit, but were noticeably better. I couldn’t walk straight when I stood up, and found myself wondering if it was dangerous to have had 6 alcoholic drinks, then following that up with a bunch of make-you-drowsy Benedryl.

Thinks were pretty fuzzy after that. I don’t know how much longer we were at the hospital. I know we got back to the hotel around 2:40am. My manager told me that I didn’t need to be at the first couple meetings and to just sleep in. I couldn’t tell you why I set the alarm on my phone anyway.

I got to my room, and my key wouldn’t work. I had to stand outside of the room, catatonic, for about 10 minutes, waiting for security to let me in. The last thing I remember was taking my shoes off. After that, everything was black. I was dog tired, but feeling great otherwise at 7am, when the alarm went off. I made it to the meetings just fine.

Before Tuesday, I had no known allergies. I still don’t know for sure what it was that triggered that reaction in me. My guess would be the crab dip stuff. From what I hear, shellfish is a common allergy for people to have, and crab is a shellfish. So… maybe. I’d only had crab one other time in my life. Sarah had some at Red Lobster, and I tried a bite. Nothing happened at the time, so… I just don’t know.

I played it off at the time, but once I felt the swelling in my throat, I was scared. Genuinely scared. I can 100% guarantee you that I will never touch seafood again (except for Sarah’s tilapia).

An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent

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As I write this post – or at least begin to write this post – I am flying, I don’t know, about 30,000 feet above the Earth. If the plane crashes, I’m going to be very unhappy. I don’t enjoy thinking of my own mortality. But, now that I am responsible for both a wife and a son, well I just can’t help it. So what did I do when the friendly stewardess told us to “turn off and stow away all electronic devices until further notice”? Did I turn off and stow away my phone so that it wouldn’t cause any electronic disturbances with the flight equipment and gauges? Nope, I continued to blog from my Blackberry Smartphone. And what did I do while she demonstrated how to use an oxygen mask, and what to do in case of an emergency? I continued to blog, of course. It’s ok, though, right? I did turn off the wireless antenna afterall.

I guess we’ll find out in a little over an hour.

I love reading books to Tyler. I fully admit that I don’t do it enough, and have resolved to correct that. But, all the reading I do, I do silently. I haven’t read out loud in ages. I’ve read news stories to Sarah on occasion, but not very often. When it’s booktime with Tyler, I read 5 books to him, some books more than once. That’s a lot of reading out loud.

When I’m reading to myself (newspaper or internet), I read fast. I don’t exactly consider myself to be a speed reader, but it’s close to that. So, when I’m reading out loud to Tyler, my eyes are trying to move much quicker than my mouth. I keep getting tongue tied, and mixed around. It’s frustrating. I have to consciously slow myself down because I sound like the nervous kid in school who stumbles on every third or fourth word when reading to the class.

By the way, I HATE flying. I feel nauseated right now.

Back in school, when we had to “read aloud in class” (I question whether aloud is really a word, but I can’t look it up right now. But, that is how the teacher said it), I did so, and I did so pretty well – as far as enunciating and accuracy go. What I didn’t do was care. I was completely monotonic. I had no inflection in my voice. I sounded like the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, kinda like a robot. When I had to read as Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet (in-class reading, not a live play, thank God), every one of my sentences ended as a question because I couldn’t understand that crap. I remember feeling quite uncomfortable and stupid once, while reading as a character in class. I don’t remember the character or the book, but he was Canadian. Most of his sentences ended with “eh?”, which I now know is pronounced as “ay”. I didn’t know that then and kept saying the short E sound, like in the word “kept”.

What should have been, “You’re going to the store, ay?”

Instead was, “You’re going to the store, ehhh?”

The kids laughed and the stupid butthole of a teacher didn’t correct me. And were there many lines that ended like that, eh? Yah, dere were, donchaknow.

Anyway, when I read to Tyler, I find myself giving each character their own voice. My vocal impersonation of Grover isn’t even close to what it should be, but Tyler doesn’t seem to mind (yet). I also try to put emotion into their statements. And it’s extremely strange to me for 2 reasons. The first is the simple fact that I never thought I would do something like that. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me. The other reason is that it felt completely natural. It may not make sense to you that I’m saying that something that feels quite natural feels quite strange BECAUSE it feels natural, but it’s true. It must be the next natural step into fatherhood, but knowing that I’ve never been like that previously is what made it strange. Clear as mud? Good, because I’m moving on. Stranger yet, to me at least, is that I don’t mind doing the voices or putting character into the story when Sarah’s with me. I expected that I would get nervous and shy, but it was fine. I can’t go so far as to say I wouldn’t feel slightly awkward out in public doing something like that, though. Part of me thinks that the general populous wouldn’t pay any mind, because I have a baby, and that’s what you do when you have a baby. But then I’ll read something like this, and wonder.

Another dilemma with giving each character their own voice is not always knowing which character is talking. If you’re going to write a children’s book, take note. Instead of:

“Let’s go to the park and play on the swings and shoot down the slide”, said Baby Bear, gleefully.

Use this:

Gleefully, Baby Bear said, “
Let’s go to the park and play on the swings and shoot down the slide”.

Written the former, I will possibly use the wrong voice or tone, embarrassing myself and confusing Tyler. Either that, or I’ll need to read ahead silently to see who’s speaking, creating uncomfortable pauses in the story, causing Tyler to think I’m “a little slow”.

Written the latter… NO CONFUSION, unless you don’t know what “gleefully” means. And in that case, you need help from someone with the letters “PhD” at the end of their name, not from me.

Just landed in Detroit. One more plane to Nashville now.

I honestly couldn’t tell you if my mommy or daddy read me stories when I was a baby. I have trouble remembering what I did 3 days ago. Trying to remember that far back is just not possible. They could have read to me hours and hours each day, but I just don’t know. It is completely possible though. I have no memory of being potty trained, but I’m sure I was. Aside from aiming issues here and then, I’m pretty versed in the ways of the toilet. Too much? Sorry.

The benefit of either not having story time, or not remembering story time, is that I’m reading all these stories for the first time. I’m reading Curious George to Tyler, secretly wondering how he’s going to get out of the mess he’s in, and wondering if the man in the yellow hat is going to find out about George’s shenanigans. Or, while reading Horton Hatches an Egg, wondering if it’s appropriate to read a story to him about a mother that abandons her baby. I guess it can’t be worse than old time favorites like Hansel & Gretel and its dabbling on cannibalism, or Goldilocks & the Three Bears where the entire storyline revolves around trespassing, burglary, theft, and destruction of private property.

At the end of the day, I’m fine with all of those stories. What I am not fine with is all the censoring that’s going on nowadays. I am appalled that Cookie Monster is no longer a Cookie Monster because cookies are a “sometimes food”. When I watched Tom & Jerry, they chased each other with hammers and knives and guns even. Not anymore though. That kind of content can’t be allowed to be seen by the impressionable children. Nevermind putting responsibility on the parents to teach their kids right from wrong; let’s have the television raise our kids and teach them morals. Pretty soon, sporting events will be taken off of daytime television because one team will be the loser, and you can’t have that. You just can’t let a child see somebody lose because “everybody’s a winner”, just like you can’t use red grading pens on kids’ papers now. Gimme a break.

But I enjoy reading to Tyler because we’re both hearing the story for the first time. That’s esentially the point of this post.

I’m getting ready to land now. I don’t want the landing gear to malfunction, so I guess it’s time I shut my phone off. I really would hate to be the subject of the news story “Man refuses to turn off phone on plane. 172 perish as a result”.

Say cheese

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So there I am, sitting on the computer – because where else would you expect me to be? – catching up on Digg. Sarah is in the other room, feeding Tyler. After a little bit, I hear Sarah walking across the dining room, towards the office. This is one of those things that catch my attention. Nine times out of ten, if Sarah needs something, she’ll call me into the living room. It’s usually for trivial things. Once, she wanted to let me know that Tyler’s butt had just exploded. Another time was to ask if a lady in one of her daily shows was Finkel/Einhorn (from Ace Ventura – it was). So, to have Sarah come to me; it didn’t make me stop in my tracks or anything like that, but it piqued my attention.



“Look at Tyler’s neck, what is that?”

She brings Tyler to me and attempts to show me what she was referring to. This turned out to be a difficult task, for a couple reasons. Tyler apparently didn’t want to show off his neck. As we were pushing on his back and his forehead to force his head back and expose his neck, Tyler was pushing back, and doing a pretty decent job. If Tyler ever becomes an MMA fighter, his opponents will find it impossible to catch him in a rear naked choke, because Tyler can tuck his chin with the best of ’em. The other issue is that Tyler has rolls in his neck (and his arms, and legs). Getting deep into the area that Sarah had somehow discovered was not easy. It’s possible – quite likely, actually – that this was the first time I’d ever seen this particular area of Tyler’s body. I am in awe, and slightly ashamed, that Google can capture the entire PLANET, and there are areas on my own son’s body that I have never seen.

We finally manage to get his head cocked back, and his neck rolls separated, so that I could see what Sarah was talking about.

Tyler had neck cheese. There honestly was a voice in the depths of my mind that asked, “Is he seriously churning breastmilk in his neck rolls into cheese?” What a sicko.

Turns out that this is actually an issue with chubby babies. Google results on a search for (redness baby neck rolls) gives 2 diagnoses. It’s either a yeast infection, or the equivalent of a diaper rash, but on his neck. So, we treated it as if it were a diaper rash. With Desitin. Sarah slathered it on there after his bath. The next morning, his neck looked tons better.

So now we have to put baby powder in his neck rolls to keep the moisture out. You can’t just slap it on there because babies will breathe it in and get respiratory issues from it. Instead, you have to put it in your hand, rub your hands together, THEN put it on his neck.

So that’s that. Tyler makes cheese in his neck rolls.