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Tyler doesn’t feel well
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Have you ever done something with the best of intentions, only to realize later that it was probably the stupidest thing you’ve ever done in your entire existence? I have. Just last night, as a matter of fact.

A while back, I banished Sarah’s dad, my father-in-law, from my house because he made Tyler laugh before I could. I’m sure it’s a petty reason, and a pretty harsh punishment, but what has been done cannot be undone. Plus, the banishment only lasted until the next time he visited, so no big deal. It looks as if Sarah’s sister, Jillian, and her two daughters (L- and P- in this post) are going to be added to the list of people banished from my house.

Last Saturday, Sarah volunteered me to entertain L- and P- while her and her sister hung out for a few hours. I was frustrated for only a moment, and that was only because I was given about a 2 second notice that I’d be doing so. I got over it right away, because the girls adore me, and I rather adore them as well. I don’t know why they like me as much as they do though, because I never was much of a kid person, but I’m learning. P- is absolutely enamored with me. And L- just recently realized how fun and awesome I am. I could speculate on why they’ve become so attached to me, but not without being hurtful to someone who may or may not be in their lives. So, we’ll just simply say that I’m an awesome uncle.

I asked the girls if they wanted to watch “Monsters“, and they shrieked with delight. After that, we watched Aladdin, then Tarzan. I say that we “watched” the films, but we basically just had them on in the background. We paid attention to Aladdin because I hadn’t seen it in ages, and was pretty absorbed in it. The rest of the time, we played with toys and tickles. When Sarah came into the room to check on us, there were blankets, pillows, and toys EVERYWHERE.

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I did have a scare when P- announced that she had to use the potty. I rushed into the kitchen, told them about the emergency and asked, “what do I do?”

Sarah and her sister thought this was the pinnacle of hilarity, while I failed to find any humor, whatsoever, in the situation. I had high hopes of an “I’ll take care of it, Joe” response, but I didn’t get one. Luckily, the whole ordeal wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be. I basically had to make sure she didn’t fall in, had to wipe her, and button her jeans up. Still, it won’t be making the cut on my “Best of Joe’s Memories” album, should one ever be produced.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would Joe possibly want to banish these lovely people from his house? They love him and he loves them. What gives?”

When they got to our house, the first thing L- and P- needed to do was have some dinner. As we were pulling chairs out, P- lets out a deep, mucousy cough and says, very innocently, “I’m sick.”

Need I say more? Wanna take a guess who’s sick now? Yes, Tyler. Wanna guess who else is sick? Yup, Sarah’s sick too. Care to take just one more stab at who else might be sick in our house? That’s right folks, all three of us are sick. Bringing sick into someone’s house should be a felony offense, punishable by death. I won’t be able to make that into a law until I am elected Supreme Chancellor (it’s close now. Very close), so banishment will have to be the acceptable alternative.

Needless to say, Tyler isn’t happy, Sarah isn’t happy, I’m not happy. He’s fussy when he’s eating, and has trouble breathing when we lie him down for sleep. He lets us know this fact by screaming and crying. Last night, Sarah asked me if we could prop his mattress up a bit so that Tyler doesn’t have to lie flat. This sounds like a job for SuperDad! I ran upstairs, grabbed two spare pillows, folded them both in half, and wedged them under the head end of Tyler’s mattress. I love solving problems. I get such a sense of accomplishment from doing so. It was a bit of a chore to get Tyler to fall asleep, but that’s what makes Sarah a wonderful mommy. After he finally dozed off, she put him in his newly modified crib and the boy slept until 7:30 the next morning.

Sarah called me to tell me the great news. I was so proud of my sloping mattress contraption. But then Sarah said, “I think it’s propped up to much.”

That’s when I realized that I had done something very, very stupid. Tyler, over the course of the night, had slid all the way down and was completely covered by his blankets, including his face. That’s how Sarah found him.

Knowing he was fine helped me get over the initial shock pretty quickly, but it’s been on my mind since then.

I can see it now. The headline would read, “Infant dies after father props mattress to near vertical position”. Then there would be a bunch of statistics about SIDS, and the various charges that the county prosecutor was pressing against me.

This really did freak me out. The thing is though: I should know better. If I read an article like that in the paper, I’d be all over the father, calling him an idiot and wondering what he could possibly have been thinking at the time.

I’m not the overprotective type. If Tyler falls down and bumps his head, I’m going to ask him what lessons he’s learned about gravity. If he scrapes his knee in the driveway, I’ll explain that when two substances are rubbed together, creating friction, the harder substance will always win. And when he inevitably follows in his father’s footsteps and falls out of a tree, I’m going to sit him down and ask him two questions.

“Remember when you fell down and bumped your head?”

Through his sobs, Tyler would say, “y-y-y-yes, d-d-daddy.”

“And didn’t I warn you not to f*** with gravity?”

My point is, I don’t think I’m being overprotective in beating myself up for making a stupid mistake. It’s done though, and I’ve learned my lesson.

I’m fairly certain that Tyler slept the entire night BECAUSE of what I did, though. He has a habit of getting his arms and hands out from under his covers every night, and always has chilly fingers in the morning. Before you suggest it, mittens won’t work; he’s a thrasher, and they’d just come off. Being trapped at the end of the bed, covered in blankets to the point of near-suffocation helped him stay snuggly and warm, so he slept soundly. Morbid? Slightly. True? Probably.

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This is a picture that P- DEMANDED that be taken of her and I
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I’ve had to close the book on 4 years of memories today. We had one of our dogs “put down” this morning.

We adopted Logan from the Indiana ASPCA in 2004. Sarah and I had moved in together in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We moved down there for her job. This was in 2003. We talked back and forth about getting a dog and really wanted to rescue one from a shelter. We finally did so on March 10, 2004, when we met Logan.

When they brought him out, Logan was skittish around me, but warmed to Sarah pretty quickly. We both fell in love with him immediately, so we adopted him. Over the course of the next few days, he warmed to me as well. All told, he was a perfect companion for Sarah and myself. We put him through training classes, which he excelled at, taught him lots of tricks, took him for lots of walks, and just generally pampered him.

We noticed rather quickly that Logan was absolutely petrified of basements. I can’t remember when it was, but we found out that Logan had been abused pretty harshly by his previous owners. This information solidified our resolve to give him the best life we could provide. Our love for Logan ran very deep; he was our first pet, and the first addition to our family.

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Logan loved stuffed toys that “squeak” when you squeeze them. I swear, Sarah was buying him a new “baby” every week. He had a wicker basket that was overflowing with green monkeys, purple elephants, and red giraffes. Logan would just sprawl himself across the floor and squeak his toys over and over again.

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Logan also loved to “hug”. Everyday, when I’d come home from work, one of the first things I had to do was go into the living room and drop to my knees. Logan would sit, tail wagging back and forth, and wait.

“Logan, can I have a hug?”, I’d say.

As soon as I said “hug”, Logan would hop up onto his back legs, and throw his front legs on either side of my neck. It was absolutely adorable, and it’s probably one of my favorite things about him.

Logan has always been able to “sense” when something was wrong with Sarah. Anytime she felt sad or lonely, Logan would always cuddle up next to her and keep her company. She loved petting and rubbing his soft, floppy ears. It always made Sarah feel better.

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Unfortunately, owning a dog that had been abused has created a behavioral issue that Sarah and I have been unable to correct. Logan bites. He’s bitten a few members of Sarah’s family. I’m not going to rehash those memories, or the circumstances involved, because I just don’t think it’s necessary. About a year and a half ago, we decided that we either had to never allow him around other people, or put him down. We opted for the former.

We knew we’d have to revisit the subject when Sarah got pregnant, but we made excuse after excuse to put off the inevitable. We got so desperate for help that I posted an ad on craigslist, and Sarah wrote to Cesar Millan. We thought we had hope when someone answered my post, saying she ran a no-kill shelter and would “love to take Logan”. After a couple weeks of trading emails and voicemails, she backed out, and quit all communication. We were devastated. We still are.

After making more excuses and putting it off, I finally called the vet yesterday.

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Sarah took Logan for a walk this morning. Actually, she let Logan take her for a walk. She let him go whatever direction he wanted to go, let him pee on all the trees and leaf piles he wanted to, and let him stop and sniff everything. He loved it. When they got home, we let him and Delilah wrestle for a while. Then, Sarah and I cuddled with Logan and cried over him.

Doc assured us and reassured us that we were doing the right thing. We knew we were; we’d never be able to forgive ourselves if Tyler grabbed Logan’s tail and something happened. But that didn’t make anything easier for us. It didn’t lessen any of the pain we were feeling.

Sarah and I held Logan in our arms as Doc gave him a shot in his front leg. Just a couple seconds later, Logan collapsed. It was, by far, one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my entire life. I immediately wanted to take it all back and start over again. I quickly removed his muzzle and started kissing his snout, telling him I was sorry, and that I loved him.

Logan, I’m going to miss your hugs. Your rare kisses. Your companionship. Your loyalty. Most of all, I’ll miss you. We already do. Goodbye, Logan. You were a great friend, a cherished protector, and a loved family member. You will always be in my heart and Sarah’s heart.

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Rest in Peace, my friend
Logan Bouse Gearhart
May 10, 2003 – November 14, 2008

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Tyler likes to give hugs now
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While we were in the hospital after Tyler’s birth, and I was changing the very first diapers that I’ve ever changed in my entire life, Tyler peed on me. The nurse tried to comfort me by saying that urine is sterile. I would urge you to read about it here (if you’ve got a moment) before reading this post.

I’ve come a long way in the last four months. The first time Tyler drooled on me, my stomach turned. I felt very uncomfortable and, to be honest, grossed out. When Tyler drools on me now, I just wipe it on my pants, or onto Delilah if she’s around. Dog fur is amazingly absorbant. And, in true dog fashion, she is more than happy to oblige, due strictly to the fact that she is getting the all-powerful human contact that she relies on for survival.

The first time Tyler spit-up on me was a trying time for yours truly. Although I already felt a loving bond between me and my 6 day old son, when he spit-up on me, I was ready to take him back to the hospital to trade him in for a baby that had a properly functioning lower esophageal flap. I’d gladly pay the restocking fee and any upgrade charges associated with the trade-in. Due to the high likelihood of my arrest and/or death (how’s that saying go? “Hell hath no fury like a mother whose baby hath been traded-in”), I instead froze in utter terror while Sarah said, “Oh my.”

“Get something. Wipe it up. Get it off me!”, I begged. Seriously, Sarah will vouch for me on this.

Wiping the cocktail of breastmilk and stomach acid off my arm, Sarah calmly replied, “You’re gonna have to get used to this.”

Thinking to myself that I wasn’t going to hold Tyler again until he got his “The Exorcist”-like behavior under control, I said, “That’s doubtful.”

Present-day Joe just looks for a burp cloth (lovingly called an urpee in the Gearhart household, and which you can NEVER have too many of) to wipe off onto. I doubt I’ll ever be completely comfortable with spit-up, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Being peed on doesn’t really affect me anymore either. I just calmly, and swiftly, intercept the stream with a diaper or an urpee. In the extremely rare situation where there isn’t anything within sight, I have in fact blocked the stream with my bare hand. Four months ago, I would have told you that it’d be a cold day in hell before you saw me, of my own free will, put my hand into a pee stream.

A few days ago, while Sarah, Tyler, and myself were playing on the floor, I observed that Tyler was sporting a noticeably larger than normal bulge up front, if you catch my drift.

Just to be sure of my suspicions, I aksed him, “Tyler, do you have peeps in your pants?”

He answered with a big, toothless grin which could mean any number of things. Given the situation, I took it as a “yes”. I took his jeans off, unsnapped his onesie and got my supplies ready. I opened up a new diaper, set it next to me, and put a baby wipe on my knee. I turned back to Tyler, and opened up his diaper. The boy definitely filled ‘er up to the max. I wiped him off and pulled the dirty diaper away. While I was turned away from Tyler, grabbing the clean diaper, Sarah gasped. I snapped my head back around to see that Tyler wasn’t yet finished peeing. Sarah has obviously not dealt with this situation before, as she just sat there, transfixed on the events. Being the seasoned pro that I am, I dropped the new diaper over his squirtgun, but not before Tyler got a mouthful of his own piss.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Tyler peed in his own mouth. I told Sarah to hand me a baby wipe, quickly. As a testament to her inability to truly wrap her head around what just happened, or her mortal fear of using baby wipes for anything other than their intended purpose, she said, “I don’t think you’re supposed to use them around his mouth.”

I had no intention of leaving Tyler with pee in and around his mouth while we went searching for an urpee or a paper towel, so I decided to just take my chances with this one. I felt like MacGruber, diffusing a bomb with a paperclip and a hairbrush. But in this case, the bomb was pee in a baby’s mouth, and instead of a paperclip and a hairbrush, I had baby wipes. In Sarah’s defense, she immediately went in search of a washcloth while I cleaned Tyler up with a baby wipe.

Tyler was quite a bit less than amused with this chain of events, and voiced his opinion in the form of a scream. I tried comforting him by saying, “It’s ok Tyler, pee is sterile.” I refused to let the next sentence out of my mouth, but it went something like, “Hahahahahahahahahahahahah, GOTCHA!”

I don’t know if this was poetic justice, but it sure felt like it.

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Why does it take a disaster before one realizes that it’s probably time to “baby proof” their home?

When I’m not using my laptop, I keep it stored safely under the couch in our living room. I’ve got the charger plugged in behind the couch and the cord run underneath it. I use this laptop for work, so it comes with me everyday.

Sarah calls me a few days ago, to say good morning and ask what I’m doing that day, and how late I think I may be working.

Sarah: “So, we definitely need to baby proof the house.”
Me: “Really? What happened?”

Now, I’m expecting something mundane, like Tyler was close to the entertainment center and would soon be able to open the door where we keep the Xbox, or something like that.

Sarah: “I laid Tyler on the floor, and went to the bathroom. When I came out, he had rotated 180 degrees and was facing the other direction.”
Me: “Yeah…”
Sarah: “And he had your laptop cord in his mouth.”
Me: surprised “The cord, or the end of the cord?”
Sarah: “The end. The part you plug into your laptop. You’re going to have to find somewhere else to put it now that Tyler’s moving around and grabbing stuff.”
Me: “Wow… yeah… definitely.”
Sarah: “Yeah, he was pissed when I took the cord out of his mouth. He started screaming at me when I did.”
Me: “Sarah, he probably screamed because he shocked the s**t out of himself.”
Sarah: “Oh my God! Joe!”

There is the chance that Tyler was mad, and screamed because Sarah took the cord that he had recently laid claim to out of his mouth. It is a definite possibility, but I’m pretty certain that I inadvertently electrocuted my son. And what’s it say about me, that I’m tempted to put it in my mouth also, just to see how it feels?

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