All the News That’s Fit to Print

The future of newsprint is questionable, at best. In ever-increasing numbers, people are turning to the internet for up-to-the-second news, to socialize with friends (and strangers), to write in their public diaries, or to just waste countless hours that could better be spent outside. By the way, I am guilty of all charges. After your grossly obese uncle, otherwise known as the internet, takes his piece of the populous pie, there just isn’t much left for the newspaper to fill his stomach on.

What happens when a newspaper can’t afford to pay all their reporters due to lower subscription rates? What happens when the readers stop writing their letters to the editor because they are now posting their opinions on their personal blogs?

My local newspaper is called The Evening Star, and is currently having an identity crisis; beginning April 6th, it will be known simply as The Star. The Star is restructuring things a bit to balance service to its readers and still maintain profitability in these tough times. One such change will be a switch to morning delivery seven days a week. It won’t exactly make sense to be called The Evening Star, hence the truncated moniker.

How does this affect me? It doesn’t. My work schedule requires that I read the paper in the afternoons, but the weekends are mine for the taking. And while I enjoy staying up to the moment with news online, there’s just something about opening your small town newspaper and reading about your local high school choir kicking butt and taking names at competitions that’s, well, comfortable.

On Sunday, Sarah, Tyler, and myself were sitting at the dining room table enjoying breakfast. As I flipped through the paper, I had to deliberately resist the urge to paraphrase some of the articles for Sarah. She hates it when I do that because she then has no desire to read the paper herself. When I finished with the first section, I moved on to the Life section of the paper.

I picked it up and gave it a bit of a shake. I don’t know why I did that though, because it wasn’t necessary. Maybe that’s just how I’m used to seeing people read the paper on television. I started reading an article, but cannot recall the subject because Sarah interrupted me.

"Oh my God. Turn it over turn it over turn it over!"

I jerked the paper down, thinking something was happening with Tyler. At nine months old, he’s getting better at crawling, assisted walking, and pinching food with his fingers. I assumed that Tyler was doing something new that I had to see. Instead, I see Sarah staring wide-eyed at me. Or rather, at the newspaper in front of me.

"Wha-", I started to inquire as I flipped the paper around.

Right there, in color print, was a six by nine inch photo of Tyler with Oreo cookie drool covering his mouth. The extra-ocular muscles that control the movement of the human eye can rotate it at a velocity of up to 1000 degrees per second or, in layman’s terms, very fast. And that was almost not fast enough for my patience. I had to know the results.

Almost exactly a month ago, in the Life section of the newspaper, I saw a collection of photos. That was when I learned of a monthly photo contest where people would upload a photo that they took, to be judged and voted on by anyone. I told Sarah about it and immediately thought of the Oreo cookie incident.

Seeing that picture in our newspaper was, in a word, awesome. It took about 1/1000th of a second to find the blurb, but it felt like an eternity. After telling Sarah that we won, we did something that I’m not sure whether to laugh about or be ashamed about. We high-fived each other. Twice.

The Next Great Adventure is Over the Mountain

I have delayed this post as long as I could. Sarah wanted to blog about it when it happened. I told her that she’d better do so soon, else I would do so without remorse.

Tyler will be 9 months old tomorrow. I really don’t know where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday that he was born. Don’t worry though, dear readers, I will not be posting a mushy stream of thought about how fast time is moving, and how I don’t want to miss anything, and blah blah blah. I’ll wait until he’s a year old before I do that.

This story began about 3 weeks ago. Sarah called to tell me that she took her eyes off Tyler for just a minute. During that small window of opportunity, Tyler climbed up one of the steps leading to the second floor. I sighed, because I knew it was time to buy another baby gate. We already have one that we use to keep Tyler out of the kitchen and away from Delilah’s water dish. I wanted to get one that had a door that we could swing open so that I wouldn’t have to step over it every time I walked from room to room. I made the classic mistake of not measuring before I bought it. The gate wasn’t nearly wide enough to fit in the stairway without some modifications. As a result, the gate didn’t go up right away.

Later that evening or the following evening, Sarah ran to the store while i played with Tyler. Tyler’s been somewhat needy for his mommy lately, so I had to take Tyler from room to room to show him that his mother wasn’t home. Crying, he crawled to the stairs and put his hands on the first step. I’m not sure what a good parent would have done in that situation. On one hand, it’s probably not a good idea for a baby to play by the stairs. On the other hand, anything he does right now is helping him learn, so who am I to take that away from Tyler? Plus, I was right there, so what could go wrong? Tyler climbed two stairs. The “on one hand” side of my brain barked at me to get him off the stairs before he kills himself. My God, Joe, he’s so high up right now!! If he were to fall from that height, the results would be disastrous! I grabbed Tyler from the stairs and begged him to never scare me like that again.

Later, I decided that the “on one hand” part of my brain was being a vagina and that the “on the other hand” part of my brain had it right by letting him learn stairs. At least under our supervision. While Sarah was upstairs, I grabbed the camcorder and called Tyler to the foot of the stairs with me.

”Go get your mommy.”

Sarah was less than pleased when she appeared at the top of the staircase, but “on the other hand” is a persuasive little turd. She compromised by coming halfway down the stairs. Tyler was being needy for his mommy and crying for her. And…

Even later that evening, Tyler climbed the entire staircase, with no assistance at all.

A couple days ago, while Sarah was shopping, I decided that I needed a better shot of Tyler’s mountain climbing skills. So, I set the tripod at the top of the stairs and used Delilah as the bait up there. Why do I have so many bad ideas when there is no estrogen in the house?

I dunno, I guess I just presumed that Tyler would tackle walking – or even just standing unassisted – before attempting the staircase.

Periosteum? I barely knew ‘im.

Tyler likes to crawl. I would assume this is the case because it’s the only skill set he has in regards to mobility right now. Until he learns the finer details of bipedalism – balance comes to mind – I am forced to get down to “his level” when we play together.

A couple weeks ago, while on the floor and playing with Tyler, a mischievous little smile danced across his face. Luckily, those looks don’t instill fear in me. Yet. I’m sure the day will come where I’ll find myself in fear of what he had planned or already done. For now though, I had time to register mild curiosity before Tyler charged across the floor and bonked me in the head with his own. I am really not sure who was more amused over the event between the two of us. I said “BONK” while he laughed. Then he gave me that look again. Tyler rocked forward and thumped me again.

”BONK”, I gleefully reported back.

I backed away a few feet, hunkered down on all fours and echoed Tyler’s sly smile. His smile grew larger with each thump, thump, thump of his hands as they marched across the floor towards me.



We played this spin of “cat and mouse” that Tyler developed for about six or seven more BONKs. The light splashed across Tyler’s face just right and I noticed around ten red marks on his forehead. I checked the mirror to see that I had a similar pattern of marks on my forehead. For fear of giving Tyler brain damage, or him doing the same to me, I had to halt the game for the evening. We’ve played this game a few more times – actually, just about every day since the first – and he’s been BONKing me harder and harder each time. Thankfully, I can stop short of saying that it’s painful, but the boy definitely likes to BONK.

A few days ago, I was videotaping some of Tyler’s activities (which I’ll share very soon) when he saw the camcorder on the tripod. Just as I released the camcorder from it, Tyler grabbed the tripod, pulled it over, and BONKed himself real good in the head. Good enough to make him cry. I believe his tears were alligator tears and while I’m sure he was shocked, there’s no way it hurt him based on how hard he had previously been BONKing me in the head.

Yesterday, we were all sitting on the couch. I can sometimes get quite animated when I tell stories to people. I was telling Sarah something about Tyler and stood up while doing all sorts of hand motions to better emphasize my point. Tyler was sitting on the couch, facing the back of it and grabbed for Sarah’s phone. In the split second that we both had our attention diverted, he leaned back. Since he was facing the wrong way, he had nothing to lean back against, aside from air. Unfortunately for everyone involved, air can be displaced quite easily and provides little to no resistance. Imagine a scuba diver who just falls backwards off a boat into the water. Except the water is a floor, the scuba diver is an eight month old baby, and the boat is a couch that is a few feet above sea level. The sound of his head BONKing on the floor stopped my heart cold.

When Tyler hits his head, or gets smacked in the face by Delilah’s tail, a few things happen. First, I try to evaluate the situation and decide whether the incident would likely hurt an eight month old baby or not. Then, I purposely blank my face and look at him indifferently. If he starts crying and I’ve decided that it probably did hurt him, I pick him up and comfort him. If he cries and I’ve decided that – without a doubt – it did not hurt, I tell him, “That didn’t hurt baby boy.” If I’ve decided that it did hurt but he doesn’t cry, I modify my standards for Tyler’s pain threshold, and pretend nothing happened.

I was absolutely certain that this hurt Tyler.

In the times that I’ve observed Tyler with his fake tears and with his real tears, I’ve found that I can judge when he is legitimately hurt about 95% of the time. If he just starts yelling and crying, he’s probably faking it. He did not just yell and cry this time. He did the other thing; the thing that tells me he is really hurt.

It starts with no sound at all. First, he draws his lower lip up and pushes the corners down, into an open-mouthed frown. Then he pushes his bottom lip out into the common “pout” look. After this, he will then take a few hitching breathes while he opens and closes his mouth, ever so slightly, in time with the hitches. At this point, the cries will begin. That pouty face is the signal that he isn’t faking. I know that he’ll soon realize the power behind the pouty look, but I can definitely use it to my advantage for the time being.

Bumps, thumps, bonks, cracks, smacks. All this and no worse for the wear. This parenting this isn’t so bad.


I envy the fathers who take a nap with their child lying on their chests. I’ve never been able to get Tyler to do that. I have had limited success in getting him to nap next to me on the couch, but that usually involves me holding Tyler’s arms down so that he can’t pick my nose or hook a finger into my mouth and pull on my lips. After, oh, 5 to 30 minutes of squirming, he’ll either fall asleep or we’ll give up on bonding through napping. When I see a picture or watch a movie where a baby is sleeping on his father’s chest, a little bit of my heart breaks away in sadness of the thought that I don’t get to experience that.

Sarah and I are advocates of Tyler sleeping and napping in his own room. Although there was a bit of a "battle of the wills" between baby and parents, it’s paid off. When we put him in his crib and give him his paci, he knows it’s time to sleep and closes his eyes. When he wakes up from these naps, Sarah and I fight over who gets to go get him. Tyler wakes slowly, like his momma, so he likes to cuddle for a bit, which is what Sarah and I battle each other for. To my detriment, Sarah has better hearing, and she doesn’t say a word about it when she hears him. She just leaves the room. Seconds later, when I do pick up on Tyler’s calls, I jump from my seat and race up the stairs, foolishly thinking that Sarah was in the bathroom.

Back to my previous thought, I’m sure that Tyler just doesn’t associate napping with the couch. As far as Tyler is concerned, the living room is for playing, not sleeping. While it’s unfortunate for my nap-bonding desires, I know that it’s quite a struggle with some parents to get their baby to sleep in his or her room, by his or her self. For that alone, I really shouldn’t complain. But I may not need to because I think the tides may be turning in my favor.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Tyler was sick (vomit, gross) last week. While Sarah cleaned up the vomit (she volunteered, I swear), I held onto Tyler, who was stripped to only his diaper. I put a blanket over us to keep him warm, and he nuzzled right in. I’ve never felt so horrible for a person, because he was sick and didn’t know what was happening, but on the flipside, I soaked in the joy and comfort of my son accepting me as the nurturer. And in the days since, he has regularly crawled to me so that I could hold him.

Tuesday was the pinnacle for me, and made me 100% certain that fatherhood was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Sarah went on a movie date with a girlfriend, so that she could take a break from being "mommy" and be "Sarah" for a bit. Plus, she really wanted to see Mel because they had already canceled their night out on a few different occasions and had to reschedule. I refuse to say that I had to babysit Tyler because it’s not babysitting, but I don’t know if there is an equally short word to use in lieu of saying that I would be Tyler’s sole caregiver for the duration of the evening. Either way, it was just me, Tyler, and Delilah.

It was one of the best times I’ve had with him, and we really didn’t do a single thing. He cried for a bit as he crawled through the house looking for Sarah, and when he got to the stairs, I had to take him up to show him that his mommy wasn’t up there either. After I fed Delilah and sat down on the floor, Tyler crawled to me and started climbing up my body. I picked him up and held him against my chest. He laid his head against my neck, and… well, that’s it. I turned on the previous night’s recorded episode of The Jimmy Fallon Show, and watched it. Tyler dozed a bit, but otherwise just snuggled with me.

He did get upset with me before bedtime because I wasn’t reading him the book that he wanted me to read to him. Otherwise…