The Nomad Dad

As I continue my evolution into a self-employed online entrepreneur, I run a never-ending gauntlet of new challenges for which I am just now becoming equipped. Some of these challenges include learning new technological skills, finding capital, hunting for great partners, and continually motivating myself to continue working, bypassing the amazing and grotesque story of the woman on Oprah whose boss’ “pet” chimpanzee mauled her beyond recognition. Alas, while these challenges are difficult hurdles to negotiate, the one for which I was least prepared is trying to work at home.

Working in “a home” is not the issue so much as working in “my current home”. My wife, 2.5 year old son, 7 month old daughter, and I all share a 1,280 square foot, 2 bedroom, authentic brick and timber true loft in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. If you are not familiar with a true loft, it means that the layout is very open with no doors and walls that do not reach the very high ceilings. We have been trying unsuccessfully to sell our place for about a year now, but the market is tough, and we happen to live in a neighborhood which is developing very quickly, with inventory saturating the market, much of it being sold off on the cheap at developer auctions and such. Our condo is extremely cool, the location is almost unbeatable, and the amenities are more than adequate. It was huge when Kerry and I moved in, and plenty of space even when Xavier came along. Hayden’s arrival earlier this year threw off the “tenant-to-square-foot ratio”, and in preparation for her arrival, we put our place up for sale.

To make a long story short (this isn’t an article intended to sell our condo after all), it still hasn’t sold. In June, I began working from home, and my ability to work in an environment free of not only daily temptations like T.V. and Xbox 360, but also regular interruptions from all three of my roommates has been severely compromised. To be fair, for the first couple of months I was home, my “work” consisted of spending several daytime hours surfing multiple job listing resources and networking, while the “Worldwide Pants” hours were spent working on my blogs. Late in the summer, however, it occurred to me that the world is changing in a profound way right now, and establishing multiple wellsprings of income while building my own personal brand is vital to my family’s future. To that end, I officially undertook other business building ventures, and my “work” has actually become exactly that…work. So, what to do about the home office situation?

Obviously, the best solution is also one that is more or less beyond my control, and that is selling our condo, and moving into a home where I can have a real office with a door dedicated to business activities. While ideal, a door alone will not completely solve the problem of interruption, so I looked to other sources of advice about ways to handle this underestimated challenge. One article in particular caught my eye, with simple and straightforward tips from a father of six who works from home. Yes, I live in a loft, but he has six rugrats at home with him, that gives him a degree of authority on the subject that I respect. It sounds like this is an issue for many Dads and also Moms, and the numbers of people working from home is growing every day, so I want to share Mr. Leo Babauta’s article, 10 (More) Tips on Doing Productive Web Work with Kids in the House, with others here.

Because Mr. Babauta does not specifically offer tips for my situation where a door, or even ten feet of separation exist between me and my potential interruptions, I thought I would add a personal touch by emphasizing the ability to work productively while “on the run”. Yes, for some a nomadic lifestyle is not the most productive, but I happen to live in the heart of one of the most populous cities in the world, so I have no shortage of locations where I can plop down with my backpack and laptop and get some work done. Today I sat in my nearest neighborhood Starbucks (I have four within a 3-4 minute walk), yesterday I did some work at Borders, and tomorrow I might visit Argo Tea.

Coffee shops and their ilk are also not ideal, often they are quite busy, and the music that the staff chooses to play can sometimes be overwhelming. Using these businesses like a biologically advantaged Cuckoo bird also comes with the delicate dance I will simply title “How-much-do-I-have-to-buy-to-be-left-alone-for-many-hours-on-end-and-will-this-Tall-Pike-Place-Roast-get-the-job-done?” tango. So far, so good. Usually I shell out about $2 for a hot beverage and the permission to commandeer my own little corner with electrical outlet for 3-4 hours, and no hassles whatsoever.

So, for now, this needs to be my top solution, though in the long run, it will not be sufficient. There are some things that must be done “in the office”, and for that I must either develop better techniques for blocking out the distractions, or give up some additional sleep. It is also a situation that requires a commitment from my wife, and she has been mostly good about it thus far. One huge benefit to working from home on my own business, after all, is the ability to spend more time with my family, so to some extent, my workday will always be “non-traditional”, it just demands a little creativity and dedication.

I’d love to hear from others who either have dealt with or are currently dealing with this same issue. What have you tried to better the situation? What has worked, and what has not? Oh, and if you think this story can benefit others, please pass it on, either directly, or by using the share buttons directly below this article.

Be Well!

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The Halloween That Was

So, as we leave the three-day period known by the Catholics at Hallowmas, I can’t help but reflect a bit on one of the most fun, but also one of the most meaningless of all the holidays we celebrate today. Additionally, now that my son is beginning to understand some of the more entertaining elements of the celebration, i.e. getting candy, I wanted to understand at what point the candy element became part of the holiday. It struck me, like so many elements of the other major holidays, as just more American consumerism overwhelming the true meaning of a widely celebrated holiday. Finally, as I attempt to eat healthier and take better care of mine and my family’s diets, I wanted to see if there was some way I could start a movement to eliminate some of the candy overload we are all forced to participate in every year on October 31.

So, the consensus is that the modern celebration of Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhein (pronounced Sow-in). See, the ancient Celts lived in what is now Ireland, Britain, and parts of Northern France. What many people do not realize due to the climate moderating currents in the Northern Atlantic Ocean is that the United Kingdom sits as far north as cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Moscow, and Stockholm. The winters there, while not as cold as those continental cities in Canada and Russia, still hover near freezing, and the days in the winter get very short, and correspondingly very long in the summer. Imagine a winter there without the aid of electricity, heat, accessible food, modern plumbing, and pre-wrapped bite size chocolate candy…brr, gives me the chills just thinking about it.

Samhein for the Celts marked the end of the summer as they had completed harvesting their crops and were in the process of slaughtering their livestock for their winter stores. The Celts also lived in a time and place that was still unfamiliar with Christianity, Islam, and probably even Judaism. Their gods were those who controlled the elements around them, and their belief in an afterlife was of a spiritual world of the dead which existed separate from their world of the living. During Samhein, the Celts believed that the boundaries between the realms of the living and the dead became “ill-defined” allowing co-mingling with dead spirits both harmless and harmful. The Celts donned disguises during this festival often depicting the evil spirits that might do them harm. Sensibly, they believed that if they looked like an evil spirit themselves, perhaps the real evil spirits would leave them alone. Finally, in preparation for the long cold winter, the Celtic Druids would build massive bonfires upon which the Celts would burn crops and livestock as sacrificial offerings to the gods…so much for logic, eh?

The Romans finally arrived in the lands of the Celts around 40 A.D., bringing with them a couple of late-fall festivals called Feralia and Pomona that became combined with Samhein. The Roman festival of Pomona specifically honored the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, and its symbol was an apple. This symbol likely led to the tradition of bobbing for apples in later years. Later, the Catholic Church created the holidays of All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd in order to bring a semblance of Christianity to the celebration known collectively as Hallowmas.

Not until the mid-1800s did the traditions of dressing up and going door to door asking for food or money emerge in America. Gradually, Halloween became more about community and big Halloween parties. Community leaders and schools gradually made an effort to remove the mischief and superstition from the holiday, and by the middle of the 20th century the holiday became secular and aimed primarily at the youth of America. Trick-or-Treating became the custom and flourished as a way for the community to “share” the cost together, and theoretically prevent “tricks” to their household and property by providing treats for the children. Halloween is now estimated to be a $7 billion industry, second commercially only to Christmas.

For a time, children would often receive apples coated in candy, toffee, caramel, and sometimes nuts. These homemade treats, while certainly scrumptious, provided fodder for hysteria as rumors of ne’er-do-well hiding blades and needles in these treats scared most parents into forbidding the eating of such treats in favor of well-sealed confections made by big candy companies. In fact, most unsealed candy and treats are now considered some of the most detestable of treats one can receive on Halloween, and may even subject the treat provider to some “tricks” for their audacity. Convenient circumstances for companies such as Hershey, Mars, Cadbury, and Nestle to swoop in with solutions for every American home.

So, what are the kids today celebrating? Instead of being frightened by spirits of scamps and rascals or stories of mischief and terror, we are more scared of other people surely intending harm. Most trick-or-treat parades appear populated with parents herding munchkins still dressed as vampires and pirates, but also as Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine, and other popular icons of the day. While more sanitized, these aren’t too far off my own memories of Halloweens past.

Most of my candy-hauling took place during the early 1980s and involved loads of Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but also way too much Good n’ Plenty, Necco wafers, Double Bubble, and those annoying Peanut Butter nougat chews in the Orange and Black wrappers. I was an unabashedly terrible costume creator, but loved the “thrill of the hunt”, and during my best years went with a handful of friends sans parental supervision. We would stop off at home from time to time to empty our load and head out to a different zone (or occasionally hit some of the “good” houses a second or even third time). By the end of those nights, I had undoubtedly collected a year’s worth or more of candy, and ate a good portion of it immediately after the mandatory sort-and-trade session. I was a big fan of Almond Joy and Mounds which I could score for a song from most of my friends.

Some of my most entertaining Halloween memories, however, were not of trick-or-treating, but rather the all too rare Halloween party involving those Taffy Apples, apple-bobbing, and various games. I wore some pretty cool costumes (mostly homemade) back when it was my mother, rather than me, choosing my disguise, and later admired the handiwork of my more imaginative friends.

I guess now, as a parent, I am hopeful that we can find a home in a place where those old-school parties of the past will take place, and my kids can have the same great memories of this holiday beyond just the brands of candy and fears of the dark strangers of the world to interfere. And here is a thought for all parents next year, how about being one of those “bad” houses and give away something other than candy for a change? How about shiny quarters, or dollar coins if you are able? Perhaps Clif bars if you must give a candy-like treat? If you already have made this change, what did you give out? I am just thinking in the spirit of helping our country be a little less obese, perhaps we can help delay the orgy of sweets that typically begins with Halloween and extends right on through New Year’s Day every year.

And please, if you absolutely must give out candy, just don’t, whatever you do, be the house giving out those wretched Black and Orange wrapped Peanut Butter nougat chews. If you do, may the trick be on you!

Happy Halloween that was!

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Young Kids and Hot Days Don’t Mix

2009 has been a strange year for weather here in Chicago. By all accounts, it has been one of the coldest and wettest years on record, while down in Texas and parts of the Southwest they bake in 100+ degree heat and severe drought. Well, we finally had a scorcher here in Chicago yesterday, relatively speaking. It was by no means even close to the hottest days I remember, and should not have been in any way unexpected, but it was hot enough to stay indoors, that much is not in question.

So, I took Xavier out for an early morning visit to the park, still covered in shade from the ever-rising condo development just to the east. We ran around and got some energy out, but then it was back home as the heat was rising for a long day of books, toys, and lots of Thomas the Tank Engine videos. Right now, the video on repeat is Percy’s Chocolate Crunch, but that is neither here nor there.

He handled the indoors fairly well most of the day, but come 7:15 or so, when Xavier began running random laps around the house, it became very clear that he needed another outdoor excursion. By 7:30, most of the heat had gone away, though it was still very muggy. He was not interested in the park, so we went by the river to watch all the boats troll up and down the waterway. Before heading back home, I treated him to a tasty chocolate shake at Baskin Robbins; a reward for “dealing’ with the day.

Xavier enjoying some cool breezes by the river.

Xavier enjoying some cool breezes by the river.

It leaves me with a question for all of you parents out there…what do you do to entertain your young children on hot summer days? Do you just head outside with light clothing, sunscreen, and hats, or do you have cool and inexpensive indoor fun on the docket? I’d love to hear any and all suggestions!

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Terror in the Kiddie Pool!

I have just spent the last 5 days in Burlington, IA visiting Kerry’s family.  It was a pleasant enough week as the weather and hospitality made for a relaxing time.  I got to play golf twice, practice once, and had plenty of home cooking to fill my too-ample belly.  Today was getaway day, and being July 3rd, I set Noon as our departure time in order to beat the crowds headed into downtown Chicago for the fireworks.  Of course, the kids wake us up between 7 and 8, so we needed an activity for those 3-4 hours before we left.  Kerry had the winning idea…Huck’s Harbor!

Huck’s Harbor is a surprisingly large water park that makes up only a portion of a huge family entertainment complex called Fun City, and is plopped right in the middle of the strip malls and fast food joints that lie on Roosevelt Ave. just north of Highway 34…yes, the same 34 that we in Chicago call Ogden Ave.  In addition to Huck’s Harbor, Fun City features a resort/hotel, a children’s/young adult “arcade”, a bowling alley, at least 2 dining options, AND a casino.  Not bad for a town of about 30,000 people.

So, we were off to Huck’s Harbor.  The drive over from my mother-in-law’s house was all of 5 minutes…tops. The cost for two adults was $12 for the entire day, and the two kids under 3 were free.  We purchased a “swimmers” diaper for Xavier for $2, changed into our rarely used swim gear, and moseyed on over to the indoor kiddie area.  It was a pretty great setup with a gradual ramp to wade into the 1 ft. deep water which held an array of miniature water slides, a few of which were in the shape of such aquatic denizens as a frog and a fish.  There were two of those mushroom/umbrella things which you could stay dry under, but got wet as you entered.  There was also a bridge-like structure in the middle from which various styles of 2-3 foot high slides exited in every direction .

Xavier has been swimming twice in his young life before today…in back-to-back days down in Florida when he was 7 months old.  He liked it then, but that was a long time ago.  Xavier loves taking baths, but is not fond of the shower.  He abhors getting water in his eyes, a boy made for the desert, I suppose.  I, on the other hand, was a fish as a child.  I have nothing but fond memories of swimming as far back as I can remember, and was quite proficient at it as well. Having children that like to swim (or at least know how) is important to me.

So, once we got Kerry and Hayden settled at a poolside table, I took Xavier’s hand, and we moved to the wade-in point. As we wandered in, I was relieved to feel the bathwater temperature of the pool…at least we wouldn’t be dealing with blue lips from the chill.  Xavier handled this part pretty well, and strolled around the pool with me for several minutes. At some point shortly thereafter, we stopped, and I sat down in the water next to him, and started to lay back to show him that we could swim just like in the smaller bath back home. This did not go over well. Xavier’s lower lip began to quiver, the eyes squinted, and the crying began followed quickly by near screaming.  I sat back up, of course, and held him, reassuring him that I was OK, and he would be too.  I then picked him up and we strolled around the pool, stopping at every drenching opportunity to soak daddy’s head to demonstrate safety and fun.  He was having none of it, but I didn’t want to give in so easy lest I foster a fear of water in him.

By this time, Grandma Kay showed up to watch Hayden, so Kerry came in for an assist.  It was a fruitless effort however, as Xavier only continued to cry and plead to get out.  At one point he even told Kerry that he pooped, and that we needed to go back to Grandma’s to change him (he didn’t — clever boy).  We chose next to walk outside in the sun to warm up a bit, and check out the other attractions.

Aha! The Lazy River…surely an easy way to introduce him to the water.  I grabbed an inner-tube, and sat him right on my stomach so he could slowly ride above the water around the complex. Well, he did stop crying, and even enjoyed himself for a brief moment as Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” played loud enough for me to mock dance with him. About halfway around, he had enough however, and wanted out.  He held it together through the end of the circuit, but that was enough of Lazy River.

Next, we tried letting him watch me swim a couple laps in the adult pool.  This he seemed to enjoy, though it did not make him want to get in the water any more than before, and reminded me how difficult lap swimming is when you haven’t done it in years.  Once I caught my breath, we decided to attempt the kiddie pool once more before abandoning ship.

I carried Xavier in, and we moved to the corner of the pool right next to Kerry, Grandma Kay, and Hayden with a rope netting serving as a barrier between us and them…it didn’t go any better.

Get me out!

Get me out!

So, still not 100% ready to give up, I sat down and held him again.  I moved back away from him slowly and asked him to follow, which he did.  I then told him that if he walked all the way out of the pool and over to the table, all the while holding my hand, we could go back to Grandma’s for lunch before we left for home.  He sucked up his last few tears, and made me proud…it’s the little victories, y’know?  Kerry quickly wrapped him in a towel before he and I went to the locker room to change back into our street clothes.

I'm spent!

I'm spent!

So, I am not terribly concerned. I think he just needs more exposure to swimming. I am going to try to get him into the next session of lessons at our local pool to help warm him up to the idea of swimming.  He is 2 years and 4 months old now. What are your experiences with your kid’s early attempts at swimming?  Have we done any damage or missed a key entry point? Any sound advice, or just entertaining stories of commiseration are welcome!

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Again with The Shedd?

So yesterday was Father’s Day, my 39th as a son, and my 3rd as a Dad.  Shockingly, I did not go golfing on Father’s Day this year, though I did partake of some of the ongoing stop and start of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.  I slept in a little, then had some scrambled eggs for breakfast, courtesy of my 2-year old, Xavier.  Yes, he actually cracked and beat the eggs a bit.  My Mom came in from Naperville, and we spent a good bit of time at the park with Kerry and the kids.  Kerry (I am choosing to believe) unintentionally dressed Hayden in an outfit that claimed “I Love Mommie!” on Father’s Day…hmmmmm.  Later, we had yet another showing of our condo (listed for sale since mid-September with nary an offer), which required the usual 2 hours of cleaning and arranging.  The rest of the day was nice and generally calm, topped off with a small ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins.

Today, we gave the Shedd Aquarium another shot.  After our rough go at it last week, I discovered that my Dad had become a member, so is now afforded 4 adult and 4 child admissions with each visit.  We immediately took advantage, and asked him to host us as a day-after Father’s Day outing for the four of us.  What a difference it made going on a normal admissions Monday versus a Free Thursday.  No line, and no cost removes the worry of taking young children who are bound to get bored before getting your money’s worth.  Normal price for the full experience, which includes the Oceanarium and the Wild Reef (really the only attractions that make the Shedd worthwhile in my opinion), is $29 for adults and $22 for any child over 1!  That is $80 we “saved” today without waiting in a 2+ hour line.

Xavier enjoyed the fish for a while, but quickly bored of that, so we took him down to the Oceanarium to see the Beluga Whales (cool) and the Dolphin show (cooler).  The only issue we had there was that toet g a good seat, they suggest arriving about 15 minutes before showtime, then they started about 10 minutes late, so by the time the dolphins came out, Xavier was in near meltdown mode.  He barely settled down in time to see the dolphins jumping, which is really the only part of the show he enjoyed anyway.  Despite the pre-show tension, watching the smile of awe take over his face when those incredible creatures fly out of the water made the entire trip worth it for me…and hopefully, for him as well.

After the dolphin show, we did some diaper changing, and had a small snack that Kerry had packed.  We headed up to the Wild Reef where they have a true to life shark tank with several varieties of small-ish sharks.  Now, of course they don’t have Whites, Blues, Tigers, or Makos in there, but they may as well have been to Xavier who was ecstatic to see those sharks swimming virtually all around him.  I am sure he will want to go back again, and now, thanks to my Dad’s generosity, we can do so for free.

Well, almost free.  Kerry couldn’t resist the urge to buy him a pack of small shark figures for the tub.  I am certain they will be a big hit tonight!

So, Dads, share your Father’s Day fun with everyone here by leaving a comment (heck, you Moms can leave one here too…just don’t forget it was Father’s Day).

Be well!

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A Walk in the Park?

Well, since the last time I posted here, my life has changed somewhat dramatically, and for the better…I think.  On Monday morning I was laid off from my job at Rand McNally, the company for whom I have toiled for the last 14 years of my still young life.  It wasn’t a surprise, and in my opinion it won’t be much longer for the remaining employees anyway…the sad story of the demise of a Great American brand.  In any case, I am now home, so can spend more time here and there with my wife and kids.

Well, yesterday while talking on the phone with a friend of mine, he asked if we would be going to the Shedd Aquarium this week to take advantage of the free admission.  What?!  We have been waiting for two years to either find the free passes available at the library, or actually realize they have a free day at the Aquarium in time to go.  After all, the Shedd is a fortune to attend with a family…and that is before you even pay for the Oceanarium portion.  So, I checked it out, and indeed, all this week the aquarium is free, though you still have to pay for the Oceanarium, but at a discounted rate (not shown on their website, of course).  I talked to Kerry about it and we decided that we should go.

So today we awoke and took care of the usual business of breakfast, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Special Agent Oso. Kerry packed a bag, gathered up Hayden and the stroller while I herded Xavier out into the hall.  We hopped on the El (we are only six stops from the Museum campus on the El) and Xavier got to enjoy the sights along the ride.  Xavier is starting to remember the names of the streets we go over in the Loop all the time, a good skill for the future.  We stepped off at Roosevelt and began our slow trek over the the Aquarium…about 1/2 mile I think.  A 1/2 mile is not too far a walk, unless you are a 2-year old, and one who is fond of trains at that.  So, Xavier dilly-dallied his way along until we arrived at the Shedd Aquarium just before 10 (it opens at 9).

WOW!  Imagine our surprise when we saw the line stretch outside of the Shedd all the way along the front side of the Field Museum.  For those not familiar with the Museum Campus in Chicago…that is a LONG line!  I probably should have known better having lived here so long, but I did not anticipate that.  We also had made the mistake of really talking up the aquarium to Xavier, as it was one of the few Chicago museums he has yet to see.  By this time, he was all too excited to see Nemo and some sharks.  So, Kerry and I saw the line and quickly shared that look needing no spoken words to understand that there is no ef’n way we are going to the aquarium today.

I picked up Xavier, showed him the line and calmly explained to him that I was sorry, but the line was just way too long for us to get in to see Nemo or the sharks today.  I then showed him the nearby lakefront with all the cool sailboats just bobbing away on this sunshine-filled morning, and tried to sell an amble up the lakefront as being equally as fun as the aquarium would be.  As he looked at me visibly working out what I was telling him, I quickly mentioned that we could try it out again on Monday when we would have to pay for there to be no line.  He bought it, and off we were to look at some boats.

Xavier checking out the cool boats!

Xavier checking out the cool boats!

So, sounds like the end of the story, but that would be just too easy, right?  I mean, if everything just worked out, then why would I write about it?

Hayden will be 10 weeks old tomorrow…that’s 2.5 months to the normal non-parent.  She is smiling now with regularity, and really likes looking at herself in the mirror on her swing (much more than Xavier ever did).  Hayden also like to be held, a lot.  Hayden’s other noticeable trait?  Boy can she ever cry.  Y’know, I never would have guessed it, and maybe this is because I am a guy, but there is definitely a difference between a baby girl’s cry and a baby boy’s cry, at least there is with my two kids.  Xavier would cry, but generally he just wanted the offer of a boob, and all would be well until he fell asleep – full and content.  Hayden likes to eat, don’t get me wrong, but that is just it…eating is eating for her, and sometimes the offer even seems to offend her, making her cry more than ever.  Her cry has a shrillness that Xavier’s did not.  It is a shrillness that suggests “DO NOT EVEN THINK OF TRYING TO CALM ME DOWN!  CALM ME DOWN WILL YOU?  I’LL SHOW YOU CALM!”

She is a very pretty baby girl, but has that way of making both Kerry and I lose that piece of our mind known as sanity.  It is a cry that makes us say the craziest things to each other…things we know we don’t mean.  So, cry she did; boy, did she ever cry.  We tried holding her, feeding her, rocking her, and just pushing her in the stroller, but to no avail.  She cried all the way from the aquarium up to the Buckingham Fountain, another sneaky long hike with a 2-year old in tow.  She cried through the mini-lunch that Kerry had prepared for Xavier.  She finally calmed down and went to sleep when I strolled her over the bumpy grass along noisy Lake Shore Drive between the fountain and Jackson St.  And with her descent into restful sleep, a peace fell over Chicago’s lakefront, and for the briefest of time, all was well.

Spending time at the Buckingham Fountain

Spending time at the Buckingham Fountain

We backtracked a bit so Xavier could at least spend some time looking at the always impressive Buckingham Fountain up close, like you should.  We walked through the rose garden just to the north, and even got some good pictures of Xavier and Kerry enjoying the sun.  On the way back to the El, Xavier had a chance to check out some more Metra tracks…a past-time that never seems to get old.

Kerry and Xavier in the Rose Garden

Kerry and Xavier in the Rose Garden

So, like many things when you have an infant, the simplest of plans most often goes awry.  While we suffered through the “on-the-fly” change of plans and the seemingly unending crying of a baby, we got to spend a beautiful morning together as a family outside on Chicago’s lakefront, and that’s a good thing.

I’d love to hear of similar events you have had, so please feel free to comment back with stories of your own…good, bad, and ugly accepted.

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2 Month Checkup

Yesterday was a big day for the kids. Xavier kicked it off with his first dentist visit ever. He is officially 2 years, 3 months, and 10 days old. His twenty teeth are perfect. He has already learned how to (briskly) brush his bottom left teeth, and tongue. He struggles, but can brush his lower right teeth. The upper teeth are still very much a work in progress. All is good, though, and the dentist was pleasantly surprised at how well behaved Xavier was. Next checkup is in December…we’ll see how he does then.

Following the dentist, we shuffled across the hallway to Hayden’s 2-month checkup at Town & Country Pediatricians. Hayden was seen by Dr. Donahoe for the second time, though, sadly, it was his last day with Town & Country, so she will have a new doctor next visit. Hayden is doing very well. It was her nine week birthday, and she weighed 13 lbs. 9 oz. That is the 90th percentile, my friends…she is a good eater! 2 months is also the BIG shot visit on the vaccination schedule. With Xavier, we admittedly went into the 2-month checkup a bit unprepared for the four shots and an oral vaccine for rotovirus. That was a rough visit, and he definitely suffered side effects for a few days afterward. So now, they have combined vaccine called Pentacel which, in one injection, covers Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Inactivated Poliovirus. We decided to hold off on the Rotavirus and Pneumococcal, opting to visit a month later for those. We had to sign a document saying that the Pneumococcal was offered as part of the official government vaccination schedule, and that they are not liable if she contracts the illness in the meantime.

On the topic of vaccinations, I actually tend towards following the recommendations. After our experience with Xavier, however, and in discussing it with my brother, sister, and others, I agree with my wife that 5 vaccinations in one visit is just simply overdoing it, and four weeks is not a big risk to take. With Xavier, this was one of the two sources of arguments between Kerry and I. My feeling is that while vaccines might appear to be excessive and dangerous (potentially unnecessary), you would feel awfully stupid and guilty if your young baby contracted polio or tetanus and died…right? Research on this topic provides little comfort as you have both sides presenting fairly compelling reasons to go either way. At about a year with Xavier, Kerry successfully swayed me to the feeling that so many shots so quickly is just not necessary, especially with our kids being home rather than in daycare, so we are now getting all the recommended vaccines for both children, just on a slower pace.

So, Hayden got a single shot yesterday, and shockingly, she barely made a peep. In fact, she was smiling at me not more than 10-15 seconds after the injection. Yes, smiling was her new trick last week, and she is getting good at it in a hurry.

After dealing with some silly billing issues (why can’t all medical billing have a printed due date?) we left the office and shuttled over to toys et cetera to get Xavier his reward for being so good. For those of you in Chicago, toys et cetera http://www.toysetcetera.com/ is a small independent toy store chain with three locations in Chicago and another in Evanston. For us, they offer the most comprehensive line of Thomas the Tank Engine toys that we have found…yes, larger than Toys R Us! Xavier had never specifically asked for a toy before, but last week he told us that he wanted “Duck” and it was a bit of an obsession for a few days. Well, Toys et Cetera didn’t have “Duck”, but fortunately, they had one better; they had an Amtrack engine from a brand that makes trains compatitible with the Thomas trains and tracks. We live blocks from Ogilve Station in the West Loop of Chicago, so Xavier is a bit of a train fanatic. Amtrack train spottings are a daily highlight fo him, so this was a fortunate thing to have happened on to say the least. I will look for “Duck” and hold him for the next rewardable situation.

So, I am proud to say we have two happy and healthy children, and I continue to enjoy feeling a temendous amount of pride in them.

If you care to share, I would love to hear people’s feelings on immunizations, pediatric dentistry, toy stores, or Thomas the Tank Engine…especially if you have personal experience with any of them. I will also be getting in touch with toys et cetera to encourage them to setup an affiliate program, then you can buy your toys right through this here blog!

Be well!

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