This is the look on your wifes face right before she bursts out laughing at your demands.

This is the look on your wife's face right before she bursts out laughing at your demands.

For approximately 40 hours a week, you may be considered smart, quick-minded, creative and competent.  During those 40 hours, you may be well-liked and respected.  You may have even found occasion to be feared.

As a result, you sometimes stride with a cocksure gait.  On really good days,  when you proceed down the street, onlookers appear confused as they too can hear your theme music playing in their heads.

However, at the end of your day, as you approach your home, something changes.  Your theme music suddenly melts away into a mixture of xylophone and the theme song to Real Simple TV.  Your stride turns into a shuffle, your shoulders shrug and you brace yourself to be considered marginally interesting and not at all threatening.  Your iron will becomes a fruit roll-up, and it is kept folded neatly in your briefcase in the hall closet for the remaining 128 hours, or 76.2% of the week.

Your wife, who once truly cared about your preferences and even slyly earned your devotion by accommodating some ongoing demands, now finds them to be largely hypothetical and wholly amusing.

At this point, your child is not aware that you have any other purpose than to act as a poor substitute for the nice lady that usually takes care of him.

Your friends think you are a weak baby and they keep making that annoying *whippoosh* sound.

Your father thinks your discomfort with this whole notion is almost as hysterical as how long it took you to realize what had happened.

But not me, man.  I want you to know that I understand.  And that I always will.

Just keep coming back during any of the 168 hours of your week.  Maybe together, we can bump that respect-meter up to a healthy 25%.


I forgot that Twister counts as a board game if you are sober and clothed.

I almost forgot that Twister counts as a board game if you are sober and clothed.

As you get used to the idea of being a father, your realization of the sheer breadth of your responsibility unfolds slowly, like when you unfold a board game.  Except with this board game, once unfolded, it spreads out wider than a room, wider than a house.

Your first instinct is to act as if you are alone on a giant dance floor.  So at first, you run around a little and goof around, maybe do one of those running slides on your knees.   Maybe try out your best Running Man if you’re sure no one is looking.

But then you start realizing that this board game has more pieces than twenty Mouse Trap games put together.  It has 300-sided dice.   It has myriad Chutes and Ladders.  It has several pop-o-matic bubbles.   It has many, many Chance cards.   You sometimes are not allowed to pass Go and often cannot collect $200.   There are times when you just want to quit the game, even if you are the one with three hotels on Boardwalk – just because it’s a damn long game.  But the most terrifying and worst outcome possible is the concept of Game Over.  You will stay up many nights in fear of it.

Thankfully, there are also triple word scores.  There are bank errors in your favor.   There are bingo bonuses.  Sometimes you get to say “King me.”  Sometimes your opponent has to Draw Four and deal with whatever color you decide.  Sometimes, after a stampede of hippos, you’re the one with the most marbles, and you win.

So you start setting up the rules.  They do not fit inside the boxtop.

I don’t just mean that you enforce bedtimes and ban phrases and foods.  What I mean is that you start making all kinds of plans for your kid.

He’s going to be an athlete.  A movie star.  A scientist.  A writer.  He’s going to take music lessons, and karate lessons and riding lessons.  He’s going to go to soccer camp and basketball camp and kiss-your-first-girl camp.

This is not a realistic goal.

This is not a realistic goal.

Oh, and he’s going to have all the things you think you should have had.   He will have the cool Star Wars toys, the cool sneakers, the cool bike, the cool car.  And by doing all these things, what he will get of course, is the cool Dad.

This game you’ve created.  It kind of seems really, really hard.  And the object seems to be more about you than about him.

Maybe – just maybe – all you really have to do is promise to play the board game with him until the end.

And maybe even let him win a few times.  Dude.  It’s just Candy Land.

This baby elephant is likely to draw more traffic to this blog than any of the advice I dish.

This smiling baby elephant is likely to draw more traffic to this blog than any of my jokes.

After six to eight weeks of short breaks of silence as the only reward for good parenting, you begin to develop a bad attitude. You start calling your child names – at first innocuous ones, like “meanie” or maybe even “jerk,” but you quickly progress to inappropriate terms like “dickhead” and “ungrateful rat bastard.”

Your wife may be alerted to this regression when she first sees your eyebrow twitching and your voice rising a bit too high when asking her questions. Your coworkers notice you have stopped mentioning your child’s every facial expression and that you now just kind of mutter under your breath when they ask about him out of obligation. Upside is they do actually like you a bit more for now.

And just as you start trying to decide whether you are a horrible horrible person for even conjuring the image of adding a Jackson Pollack effect to the nursery mural by hurling the screaming devil-child against the wall, something happens.

The ungrateful rat bastard looks up at you and grins for the first time.

At once, like a quickening in The Highlander, some kind of lightning-forged parenting mojo rushes through you. That feeling of instant adoration you had when he was first born that seemed two minutes ago like stupid idealism – it comes back, doubled and infused with endorphins not seen since your most chemically adventurous years. You realize you suddenly have the power to lift automobiles with one hand while spinning the baby on a finger and singing a German march in falsetto.

The sheer joy of your baby smiling is plain addictive. You will be consumed with getting him to do it again. Your desire to earn a smile will send you down some strange pathways.

There’s no point in me trying to get you to calm down and stop seeking your child’s validation. Once your kid has flashed his gums at you, you will find yourself competing directly with your wife. I am currently winning this contest in my household, simply because I am more willing to make a fool of myself. I suppose I should tell you that they will love you equally even if you don’t make special efforts to get them to smile at you. And that there’s no point competing for your child’s love, anyway.

Another slightly relevant attempt at readership through Google Image search.

Another slightly relevant attempt at readership through Google Image search.

But we both know that’s not true. The parent with the most smiles by Month Three wins. First one to get a giggle advances to the next round. So here’s how to kick your wife’s ass.

1. Laugh. Just get some eye contact going and start giggling. Your kid won’t want to be left out and will act as if he’s in on the joke. If you need something to make you start laughing, consider that I secretly hope someone will someday pay me to write stuff like this.

2. Contort your face. This one is an elementary but time tested tactic. It has many variations and I do encourage you to create your own expressions. But I have done extensive research in this category so I’d like to recommend a few facial expressions that seem to work best. I’d describe the most effective as “oh my, I think my nose might have fallen off,” which amounts to a surprised expression and crossed eyes. Coming in second would be “I’m trying to lick my eye but my nose keeps getting in the way.” Third place would have to be “Baby Fishmouth.” An honorable mention goes to “for a vice-presidential candidate, my grasp of simple macro-economic principles is alarmingly cursory,” which looks a lot like the first place one but requires glasses to be worn at the same time. Whatever your crazy facial expression, just be sure you always straighten it back up again and smile each time. You don’t want your child to think you’re ugly.

3. The Boop Game. Even before your kid has ever cracked a smile, you can get him to interact while playing this game. The surprised reaction you get at first will turn to smiles in a few sessions. Start out standing over your baby like you normally would when he’s on the dressing table. But then take a sudden loud breath and say “Aaaaaaaah” in a rising tone as you slowly bring your face closer to him. Just as you touch your nose to his, say, “Boop!” in a high pitched tone. Lather and repeat. Soon your baby will be conditioned to get ready to laugh whenever you take that sudden gasp.

4. Finger Dance. A rare talent among Type A personalities and other employed folks, most Type B folks possess this ability and will tell you that finger dancing is a fantastic way to pass the time while Type As tell you about all the crap they have been doing all day. Not as many realize that it is also an excellent way to get your baby to smile. Because infants are notoriously under-scheduled, they immediately gravitate toward these Type B-type amusements. Once you’re pretty good, you can use both hands at once, creating an opportunity to practice your couples moves for the as-yet-to-premiere Finger Dancing with The Stars.

5. Lip-sync songs that don’t match your appearance. This worked great for Rudy in The Cosby Show, and it will work for you too. Because infants seem to like higher tones more than low ones, it’s natural that the lip syncing fit is unnatural. But babies are sticklers for lip-sync accuracy, so don’t think you can fake your way through this one or they’ll lose interest in you and seek the sound source with their eyes. Pick something you know, or study hard – and be as animated as possible during your performance or you will not move on to Hollywood. Song choices are very personal, of course, but I exclusively employ Patti LaBelle.

6. Watch sports while holding your child. Your nonsensical outbursts in response to whatever is going on with that noisy light emitting box you call a TV sometimes seem to your baby to be bits of carefully choreographed comic genius. Don’t ask me why Buster thinks it’s funny when I object to an errant throw by Neckbeard, but he does. Maybe he’s a Redskins fan.

7. The disappearing head trick. This is a variation on peek-a-boo for those of us who find it wholly unconvincing. I mean, clearly you haven’t disappeared just by putting your hands in front of your face. And I don’t want my kid to think that I think I’m being tricky just for doing that. I believe that my child will expect better special effects out of his entertainment options. So, for this you will need a high-necked sweater or turtleneck. Get some good eye contact going and then pull your head into your shirt. Make a muffled sound and flail your arms around the void where your head should be as if you are having a hard time finding it as well. Then pop it out and say, “Here I am!” or “There’s Daddy!” or “Who’s really good looking?!”

8. Use a mirror. Maybe it’s genetic, but Buster loves the sight of his own image. You can’t blame him really, because he’s almost as good looking as his Dad. Once he does catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he’s pretty captivated and always flirts with the gorgeous hunk of baby flirting right back at him. If you don’t have one of those little plastic mirrors for babies, just show him himself in the bathroom vanity mirror or the one on the back of your door. That first moment of eye contact with his own reflection is pretty fun to watch. Note – don’t use this tactic if you have an ugly baby.

9. The Falling Leaf. Related in concept to the Boop Game, the falling leaf calls for greater distances for depth perception development. With your kid on his back on his play-mat and you standing up, make one of your hands all jazzy (like when you do the sign for rain falling in Itsy Bitsy Spider) until you get his attention. Hold it above your head and have it float down like a leaf or a feather would, going back and forth on the way down until you touch your baby’s nose lightly. Now, smack yourself in the face soundly for doing Jazz hands.

10. Generate some sound effects. Transform yourself into that guy from Police Academy and create a menu of sound effects that you use on a regular basis. My favorite is “Diaper Changing Robot” where I imagine myself as an assembly line automotive robot while changing him and every move of my arms requires a “veeeeeee,” “whirrrrr,” or “zzeeeeep.” Once he’s completely changed there is also celebration sound that sounds kind of like “pongpittapittapongpong – DING.” Buster seems to enjoy this almost as much as I do.

Note the use of stereophonic headphones.

Note the use of stereophonic headphones.

From the beginning, even as a toddler, I was really into music.   My parents could probably tell because I could remember the tune and lyrics of pretty much every jingle I ever heard. They were probably also slightly concerned I was soaking up marketing so readily as a result of my instinctual love for music.  So they channeled it into music instruction.  That was the greatest gift my folks ever gave me, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a wealthy pop star now.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that Buster really seems to respond to music.  He always stops to listen when it’s first turned on, and he seems more at ease with it on in the background.  This got me thinking back to the jingles that used to bounce around my head the most as a little kid. Here’s my top ten from my childhood memories that I plan to share with Buster, through the magic of YouTube.  You can save YouTube files to your computer (and copy them to your iPod later) by using a free service like this one.

I’ve already showed Buster a couple, and he seemed cosmically transfixed, either because our DNA code had aligned to share the experience entirely or because he was concentrating on passing some gas.

Anyway, feel free to add yours as well.  YouTube has pretty much everything I could remember.

10.  Great Space Coaster – I remember being amazed at the guy’s little box that could play video.  That’s called an iPod now.

9.  Spiderman –  this song has the precise amount of tension that is required to accompany a man swinging by a thread through the city, fighting crime.  And on the playground, you could also chase the girls with a wild look in your eyes while repeating “Spiderman, Spiderman” until your throat hurt.

8.  Hungry Hungry Hippos – the crazed pace and slightly unhinged nature of the jingle completely matches the crazed pace and completely unhinged nature of the game itself.  Parents must have hated hearing kids play this game.

7.  He-Man – I like how the intro includes sarcasm while referring to the pussy/battle cat.

6. Smurfberry Crunch – I just remember kids singing this song constantly at recess and being thrilled beyond reasonable belief when my friend Darren had some at his house during a sleepover.

5.  Underdog – I used to wake up before my parents at like 5:30am to sneak watching this show on a 10″ black and white TV with the volume down to almost nothing.

4.  Thundercats – When Thundercats came out, it was among the first “new” cartoons in a long time.  It had a cool premise and even seemed to have racial diversity.   It also taught me you have to shake your sword around a little to make it longer sometimes.

3.  Crispy Critters – this is a really bizarre idea for a cereal jingle when you look back at it, but it’s eerily catchy and nearly everyone my age that I know remembers it more clearly than other cereal commercials.  Oh, and the cereal was terrible – it was “low sugar” and tasted like wheat crackers.

2.  Mahna Mahna – this has been revived and maybe overplayed lately, but it’s still one of my favorites.  I remember walking to and from the bus stop with this in my head.

1.  J-Joe Jeans and His Jelly Beans – this is the greatest song ever to come out of Sesame Street, maybe out of any children’s show of my youth.  If you listen closely in the background, there’s actually some excellent guitar work over a well-instrumented but basic tune.  Buster liked this one a lot, too.

Seriously, add yours to the list in the comment section – this will be fun.  Try linking to YouTube, too.

Okay, so I think we’ve finally gotten to the point, more or less, where we know how to keep Buster from going postal on us. There’s so much out there written about calming babies I realize there’s a lot of good places to go for information, but I think I’ve adopted and adapted the best techniques from multiple sources.

No reason for you to also subject yourself to sitting through videos of men with weird hair nor sifting through websites for answers. Here are seven quick tips for calming fussy babies, ranging from basic to advanced and highly proprietary DoB-engineered tactics.

1. Remember the fundamentals. At any given point when your baby is crying, remind yourself to go back and check whether it’s due to the two most common causes of crying – hunger or a dirty diaper. I’ve been surprised about how many times I started get frustrated after going to more advanced calming techniques without success before realizing I forgot to check if he’s just sitting in his own mess. Which is a darn good reason to object. If a feeding was more than two and a half hours ago, he’s probably getting hungry, too. Fed and diapered but still shrieking? Check the temperature too. If all is good there, time to move to the more advanced measures.

2. Believe in the power of the swaddle. After the first few weeks, we got away from the swaddle at night, thinking that it was probably not that great to bind our kid like a mental patient for 10 hours a day. That was a tragic error. Strap that baby in. Dress him like a burrito every single time you put him down for sleep in the first few months at minimum, unless you want to end up in your own straitjacket.

This kind of swing is less helpful when a baby is screaming.

This kind of swing is less helpful when a baby is screaming.

3. Swing = peace. Although not as reliable a solution for when your kid is already super-cranky, swings are absolutely the best for when the baby is fighting going to sleep. Consider buying one smaller, portable one and one that’s more of a power swinger. You can afford both if you don’t buy them new. Get them on Craigslist, and don’t pay more than $20. Look for an ad that sounds like it’s coming from a total anal retentive. That person’s mild mental illness is your ticket to a like-new item. Just in case, wash the padding anyway. I bet you $20 you can sell the swing you buy for $20 when your kid is done with it, too.

4. Pacifiers are a double edged nipple. The headline is that pacifiers do their jobs well, especially right before feeding time, just as you’re getting ready and he’s getting impatient. The small print is that they work only when they stay in the kid’s mouth. I try to avoid the pacifier unless necessary, not because I’m worried about oral fixations, but because I’d rather hold him to soothe him in most instances than be on Pacifier Guard, a game where every thirty seconds to two minutes the pacifier pops out and your baby freaks until it’s back in and you freak slightly more each time.

Milky mallets are gentler.

Milky mallets are gentler.

5. Use an extra feeding before bed like a cartoon mallet. When you are getting the sense it may be a fussy night, “top the kid off” with an extra ounce or two right before bed. An extra feeding is a great way to knock your baby out, er I mean, extend that first sleeping period of the night. It’s guaranteed to add at least one hour of sleep for everyone.

6. Go Sith Lord on the bugger. This does NOT mean you should telekinetically grip your child by the throat. But bear with me. In actuality, one widely trusted source advises to say “shhh!” with long whispery tones in your swaddled baby’s ear to quiet him, while turning him on his side on your slightly jiggling lap. And this actually really does work. But it sounds and looks ridiculous! So here’s where I bring you a genuine DoB innovation. Equally effective and much more suitable for today’s new fathers is what I now will trademark as The Darth Vader The DoB Vader (R) (TM). Like the original method, swaddle him, turn him on his side and place him on your lap as you bounce your legs very slightly but steadily. But instead of the shushing nonsense, start by whispering, “<Your child’s name here>, I am your father,” and then breathe right into your crying baby’s ear just like Darth Vader – as loud and breathy as you can for twenty to forty seconds. I swear on my Tauntaun, it works like a Jedi mind trick. Plus this way you don’t look ridiculous. Ahem.

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

7. The “hard reset”. In the first few months, you can take advantage of a vestigal reflex. Only use this as a very last resort because A) you don’t want to reduce its effectiveness and B) it will scare the hell out of your wife. So when I say last resort, I mean, this is for when you have tried everything else and your baby is screaming and bright red. The reflex we’re going to be triggering is the one where your baby flings his arms outward if he feels like he’s falling. It’s left over from when he might be able to grab a tree branch on his way down. It also completely distracts him from whatever was upsetting him and delivers a minimum ten second break from the circular loop of disatisfaction he had created by crying until his face hurt. During that pause you have a chance to console him. To execute the hard reset, bring your arms to shoulder level and allow your baby to drop to your waist level, your hands following beneath him at the same speed as gravity so he doesn’t actually hit your hands hard when you catch him at waist level. One or two of these and your baby should be back to a more reasonable state. Do it over a couch, or a bed in case you’re a clumsy moron. Your wife will NOT understand if you screw this one up. But she will think you’re magical when you get it right.

I do a lot of writing purely for your reading pleasure, and I’ve never asked anything of you for this three-laughs-a-minute joyride.  But today, you’re going to do something for me.  Actually, for some kids.  And some teachers.  Well, for all of us, really.

You, perhaps for the first time all day, are going to do something entirely significant.  You’re going to do it by making the best impulse purchase you’ve ever made in your life.   I want you to give some cash to a teacher.

Public school teachers these days have fewer resources than ever.  In poorer communities where parents can’t donate their time or afford to pay for extras, this means that the education those kids are getting can be bare bones at best.

We’re not just talking about not having the latest technology in the classroom here, we’re talking about trying to teach gymnastics without mats!

I know, I know.  Some of you are shaking your heads.  You have your own kids to worry about.  Charity starts at home.  Well, guess what?  You don’t want your kids to have to take care of the kids who grow up with the dents in their heads and chips on their shoulders that they got from doing somersaults on hardwood.   And if you’re reading this blog on an LCD anything, chances are you have a $10 bill somewhere that you can spare.

Think about this.  Some public school teacher is already working for a lot less than (s)he deserves.  Probably driving to and from a dangerous neighborhood every day.  Fostering hope for children in the face of long odds.  Digging into his/her own pocket to make sure everyone has pencils and paper.  Often without any thanks at all.  And what does that teacher do when (s)he gets home?  (S)he goes on the Internet and enrolls in this program so that (s)he can teach MORE to these children!  And by the way, (s)he probably has a family too.

So what are you doing?  You’re going to that damn website, yanking your credit card out of your pocket and parting with ten or twenty bucks, that’s what you’re doing.  Two minutes from now, you can feel good about yourself on a bunch of levels.  And if that isn’t enough for you, the kids send you thank you notes.

It also makes a great gift.   You can give a Giving Card that allows the recipient to designate which projects across the US they wish to fund.

So go, right now.  I’m not writing another blog post until you do.

This is the most extravagant baby accessory I think we’ve purchased, at least in terms of its cost relative to other options.  It is entirely possible that you can get a perfectly fine baby monitor for less than a third of the $199 that this one costs.   But having owned about 30 bargain-priced cordless phones in my lifetime in attempts at one clear conversation on them, I simply did not want to go through the hassle of dealing with several bad options on this item before finding one that always works.   I also figure that finding out that your kid was screaming for 30 minutes as you were unwittingly “out of range” sounds particularly worse than the garbling of whatever phone conversation you could have been having in 1991.

So this, my friends, is the Rolls Royce of baby monitors, the Philips LCD DECT Digital Baby Monitor.

Now,  I don’t ever make the assumption that more expensive is better.  But either does one particularly well known magazine that reports things to consumers.  In this case, it gave the top performance rating to this device by a longshot.  And although it admittedly costs three times as much as the next best-rated competitor, the performance gap between this and the second place monitor was equally big.

And I love having the best when it comes to things with buttons and LCD displays.  And we saved some cash off the fancy strollers with our very smart choice on that.

So I trusted my sources and went with the best, and so far I’m glad I have.

The number one concern I had was interference.   We’ve got so many wireless signals and networks flying around our house at this point it’s entirely possible that a bad baby monitor could seize control and program our refrigerator to tip over and crush us.

Just what do you think youre doing, Dad?

Interference can be deadly.

But this one has DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications).  DECT is condescendingly ridiculous geek-speak for “This Time We Actually Made It Work,” but TTWEAMIW apparently isn’t considered as nimble a marketing phrase.  For the record, to me, DECT actually resembles the sound the cat makes when she coughs up a hair-covered rubber band strand.

Anyway, this thing has 60 channels in order to accomplish the DECT.   Don’t worry, none of them are Lifetime or Bravo.  They’re channels like on cordless phones, and it chooses the clearest for you automatically.   Lesser models have 12.  Ha, 12.  12 is for existentialists or something.  60 is for MEN!

The other advantage is range – this one is guaranteed to work for 900 feet.  That’s nearly two blocks.  Which gets us all the way to the park in back of our house.  No, my wife and I aren’t leaving our baby in the nursery while we play on the monkey bars, but the range will come in handy later on down the line due to the other great feature – the two-way intercom on the parent unit.   In the meantime, I’m using that function to play the voice of God for Buster, as well as to sing ridiculous songs from downstairs while Mom is in the nursery with him changing his diaper.

It also has this self-regulating feature where it kind of scans for ambient sound and sets a threshold level for itself and doesn’t broadcast white noise or quiet music.  This way, you don’t necessarily have to listen to the mobile clink away or even low-level grunts.  Once Buster raises his voice at all, it’s loud enough to hear, and there’s even a visual sound meter to help you decide whether the last yelp was loud enough to warrant a visit.    Two to three bars is a “probably.”  Four bars is a “yes.”  Five bars is “you stupid, lazy parent, you have five seconds to get up here and comfort me or I will destroy you.”

There are some other cool features too, like the temperature gauge that displays on the parent unit, the “starry” nightlight feature and the built-in lullabyes.  Though my singing still is better.

And also you have to wear this sweater.

And also you have to wear this sweater.

The only annoying part is the complicated instructions for the first few uses, in terms of charging the battery.  It is like being sent back to 1991, with the instructions telling you to use the battery until it’s totally drained and then to charge it completely for 13 hours, and then to repeat that three times, and then to watch the Cosby Show or Family Ties the entire time that’s happening.

In all, though, I’m happy with its performance and actually am glad we forked over the bucks on this item.  Again, you may do just fine with a $60 model, but you definitely won’t have problems with this one.  And maybe you can find it on Craigslist, because it’s been around since 2006.

Anyway the round-up, as is customary on these reviews.  I chose and like this product because:

  • It is guaranteed to be interference-free and has proven out
  • It has great range and a two-way talk function
  • It does a good job letting through only sounds that matter
  • It is has the most advanced features of any baby monitor I considered
dadorbust no-brainer product pick guidelines: I don’t do competitive reviews or discuss the merits of several models when I offer my purchase decisions. I use widely trusted sources, personal recommendations, and a fully functioning forebrain.  I try not to yammer on with feature comparisons- I just tell you what I picked, the top few reasons why, and maybe I throw a few tips in.  And I follow-up with an update or separate post if something goes wrong with the product.

We fall for some really dumb marketing concepts sometimes.

I’m looking at a bin of wipes. They are Pampers natural aloe unscented wipes. On the top left corner of the label is a picture of a perfect baby, with a mom kissing him gently on the shoulder. There’s also a picture of a raindrop falling into a pool of water and making a visual *bloop* as it breaks the surface tension. The package is rounded and a pleasant aqua green color. All the labeling on the package is also translated into both Spanish and French. The French labels are slightly more prominent for some reason, either due to the large and vociferous French-American population or the fact that French seems fancy. Regardless, everything about this package makes me want to wipe Buster’s ass.

Of course, then I remember that I don’t like wiping ass.

C’mon. Don’t try to tell me that anything about this product is natural. Is using the word natural supposed to make me think that Mother Nature somehow intended for me to fly through all 77 of these natural wipes in about three days? Naturally, it is. That’s why it costs more.

These wipes are also supposed to have aloe. Which is also natural, in case you didn’t know. From the way marketers seem to drop aloe into any product that touches your skin, it is apparently magical. At least in terms of selling crap. Even crap to clean up crap.

I remember when they first added aloe to tissue. On the first day of school that year, kids were practically holding parades with their aloe tissue boxes. Consumers ate it up. I thought they just made for greasy Kleenex. But marketers realized they could add a buck to the price of anything by squeezing some plant sap on it. Or at least by claiming to. I can’t tell if these wipes really have aloe in them because they are also… unscented.

This drawing is unscented.

This drawing is unscented.

Unscented is the second biggest lie in marketing, right behind the unbreakable comb, which if it were in fact were unbreakable, would necessarily form the base material for all construction. I also know they are not unbreakable because Kevin Marron broke one in the boys’ room in second grade in front of everyone. But I digress.

Clearly, these unscented wipes have a scent. Maybe they don’t smell like roses dusted with baby powder, but they definitely have a scent. I can smell it. And I’ve never smelled anything without a scent before.

Half the crap in our house right now is supposed to be unscented. The laundry detergent for our clothes is unscented. The fabric softener was supposedly unscented, but to me it smells like the unscented handsoap in my bathroom, so I’m not sure if either now count as unscented because they share the same scent. The cleansers – more and more often, unscented. Yet they each smell differently. My wife was using some kind of unscented deodorant for awhile. It didn’t work that well, so she had a scent sometimes.

I will admit I am hoping our next dog will be unscented. And that you think this post was… er, didn’t stink.

24 is also the name of a television show.

24 is a popular television show.

The following events take place in real time… over the course of 24 minutes. Kiefer Sutherland was not harmed in the making of this blog post.

7:37PM Buster is happy and alert. He’s watching his father as he plays piano. Dad feels a rush of pride that Buster seems to enjoy music a great deal. He will surely be the only starting shortstop in the MLB who is also a jazz pianist and future Senator. But now Dad needs to put down Buster for a minute so he can help get dinner together. Buster isn’t sure how to take this.

Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep.

7:38PM After ten seconds of deliberation, Buster decides he does not in fact want to be in his car seat right now, even for a moment. He lets Dad know through a sustained screech. Dad stops what he’s doing and goes back and checks on Buster. He takes him out of the car seat, consoles him briefly and puts him back in.

7:39PM Buster considers whether he should be satisfied with that level of response. He decides the answer is again no, and that this time, he will need to enunciate better. Because he can’t yet control his tongue, he will attempt to vibrate his uvula as he releases vocal hellfire.

Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep.

7:40PM Dad returns to Buster and lifts him from the car seat again, consoling him briefly and checking to be sure his diaper isn’t soiled. It is not. The boy has been recently fed, diapered and should be just fine. If he puts Buster down and he yells again, it’s clearly going to mean that he just doesn’t want to be there. He places him back into the car seat.

7:41PM Buster instantly explodes into a gurgling shriek. It’s clear that he believes that screaming is the best negotiation method. After consulting with agent Childsplayx2 at CTU (Counter-Tantrum Unit), Dadorbust has decided that he will no longer negotiate with terrorists. He’s going to let him wail away.

Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep.

7:42PM Buster wonders whether Dad didn’t hear him correctly at first. To be certain, he doubles the intensity of his cries. He has now turned from bright pink to bright red. His eyes are shut tight and he’s balling his fists and shaking them.

7:43PM Dad stays near as Buster begins to unleash some of his previously unreleased works. One of the rhythmic screams sounds like a wildcat being choked by a boa constrictor. Dad stands pat and allows him to cry unchecked.

Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep.

7:45PM Buster gets louder and begins a never before seen display of colors. He moves away from the generic red and leans toward a nice Cerise.

7:47PM Carnelian. Crimson. Coral. Cerise again.

7:49PM Buster’s crying intensity seems to diminish a bit momentarily. He opens his eyes and looks right at Dad. Dad doesn’t seem to be relenting. Buster growls directly at him before delivering a crackling terror scream. He resumes his display of colors.

7:51PM Amaranth. Ruby. Alizarin. Carmine. The dog evacuates. The cat smiles with satisfaction.

7:53PM Mom is concerned about her baby and is beginning to doubt Dadorbust’s technique. Dad advises her to stay away from Buster’s view in order to maintain her status as a neutral nation. Buster senses a lack of unity and adds more lung power to his attack.

7:55PM Buster achieves a throbbing Venetian Red and looks about ready to burst. He’s choosing yelling over breathing a bit too often. Just in case, Dad picks him up for a moment to get his attention, but puts him right back down as soon as Buster catches his breath long enough for a more traditional wail.

7:57PM Decibel level remains similar to that expected if two inches tall and placed inside of an airhorn. The car seat around Buster is beginning to melt from the intensity.

Go into the light.

Go into the Light. There is peace and serenity in the Light.

7:58 PM Window panes are rattling. A tiny woman walks in and starts calling for Carol Anne.

Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep.

7:59 PM Buster is nearly hoarse from screaming but manages still to achieve ear piercing tones. Neighbors are all standing around outside and staring at the sky. Dadorbust hears someone say, “the time is nigh.”

8:00 PM Buster stops crying very suddenly. The symphony of red ends. He closes his eyes, catches his breath and falls asleep.

8:01 PM Buster wakes up briefly, but long enough to look at both his parents with the saddest expression ever created by a human face, before passing out again. Mom begins to tear up. Dad shoots her a look. She doesn’t dare make a sound.

Dadorbust walks off into the distance. He is relieved from the victory, but he senses this may not be over.

Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep.

You are definitely not the boss.

This is not who's the boss.

I’ve worked for some real jerks before. During a three-week stint as a KFC employee as a teenager, I had a manager who, other than during the job interview, communicated with me only by screaming in high-pitched broken English. During college summers, I worked for a union boss who could just look at you sideways and inspire deep fear of the trunk of a Cadillac. As an adult, in a more professional setting, I had a boss who once told me I should stop questioning the approach and just “obey” her. She also regularly patted people on the head.

All of them had the ability to send my blood pressure boiling or inspire deep feelings of dread. But at the end of the day, I got to leave them behind and return home.

This is not so much the case with my newest boss. He’s less than two feet tall and doesn’t yet weigh ten pounds, but he has me jumping to attention like the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket:

Gunnery Sergeant Buster: Holy Jesus! What is that? What the f** is that? WHAT IS THAT, PRIVATE DADORBUST?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, a laptop computer, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: A laptop computer?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, yes, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: How did it get here?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, I took it up from downstairs, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: Are laptops allowed in my nursery, Private Dadorbust?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: Are you allowed to use laptops when you’re taking care of me, Private Dadorbust?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: And why not, Private Dadorbust?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, because you deserve 100% of my attention, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: And because you are a crappy dad, Private Dadorbust?
Private Dadorbust: [whimpers] Sir, yes, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: Then why did you try to sneak a laptop up here, Private Dadorbust?
Private Dadorbust: Sir, because I wanted to blog, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Buster: Because you wanted to blog… [turns and addresses Mom, cat and dog] Private Dadorbust has dishonored himself and dishonored the family. I have tried to help him. But I have failed. I have failed because YOU have not helped me. YOU people, have not given Private Dadorbust the proper motivation! So, from now on, whenever Private Dadorbust messes up, I will not punish him! I will punish all of YOU! And the way I see it ladies, you owe me for ONE LAPTOP! NOW, CRADLE ME AND TELL ME I’M YOUR BABY BOY AND IT’S OKAY! [Mom puts him into cradling position, Buster turns to Dadorbust] Take off my diaper and show me that laptop! [Private Dadorbust complies. Gunnery Sergeant Buster pees all over the laptop]

Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly like that, but it sure feels like it. Two weeks ago, we were bragging to people that we had an easy baby. He seemed so good-natured.

Since then, we’ve clearly lost any semblance of control of our day. If Buster’s awake, he expects us to either be feeding him or cradling him in our arms. The punishment begins with normal everyday crying but can range up to Full Blood Curdling Terror Wail, genetically programmed to burst my wife’s and my eardrums after anything more than three seconds of exposure.

He refuses to fall asleep on any flat surface, instead requiring hand-rocking until he has drifted off and then demanding a perfect transfer to his crib requiring the same care and steady hand as is needed to diffuse a nuclear device. If he is not being held within 15 seconds of waking up, he resumes his screaming.

Hello, mother. I come bearing a gift. Ill give you a hint. Its in my diaper and its not a toaster.

"Hello, mother. I come bearing a gift. I'll give you a hint. It's in my diaper and it's not a toaster."

Some people blame this on colic, but I don’t think it has anything to do with gas. Buster is just a mean little jerk, and I am wondering if this is temporary or just the first sign he is bent on eventual world domination. There’s no question that Stewie from Family Guy was originally envisioned during this very period of development.

It’s been tough on both of us and it makes the day when our baby finally greets us with a hug and a giggle instead of a scowl and a scream seem centuries away. But I’ve been assured those things are still coming.

So I guess this is what I get for my previous post calling Buster great and complaining about him not recognizing me. He now knows exactly who I am.

I’m the help.

My camera can do lots of things I dont understand.

My camera can do lots of things I don't understand.

Very often, the role of family photographer is heaped squarely upon Dad’s shoulders. For the most techie dads, the baby simply represents a new and exciting subject for a photographer’s eye that has been carefully honed over the years, largely from taking photos of vacations, portraits of the dog and snaps of passed-out frat brothers with writing on their faces.

For others, it represents an intimidating new responsibility. There are a million brands and models.  And there are also a million better places than this blog to get recommendations on exactly which one to buy.

But I do think a few special considerations should be kept in mind when you’re about to become a photo-taking dad.  There’s just a bit of a difference between selecting a camera that will best help you take photos of your friends’ beer goggle accidents and choosing and using one to capture cherished memories of your child.

So I asked someone who is both a dad to an infant and a bit of an expert on photography a few questions. Joe Hoetzl joins us for the first ever Dad or Bust interview…

Hi, Joe. Thanks for your help. Let’s get right to the most pressing question of the day. How much do I have to spend to get a camera that will make my child look more attractive?

$200 will get you something that will work nicely. $2000 will get you something where the main limiting factor is the eye behind the viewfinder.

My old camera has 4 megapixels. The new one I’m looking at has 12 of them. Doing the math, does this mean my child will be three times more attractive with my new camera?

No, but even the smallest booger will be really clear in prints! Let’s look at this chart:

Acceptable when printed at:
2 MP –  4×6″
3 MP – 5×7″
4 MP – 6×8″
6 MP – 8×10″
8 MP – 10×14″
12 MP+ 16×24″

Note the “when printed” part. If you are only planning on displaying the photos on the web, just about any megapixel count will do. If you do plan on making poster sized prints, or selling the photos to an agency or something like that, then a minimum of 8MP is recommended. Can a 2MP photo be printed at 8×10? Sure, but it will look a bit fuzzy.

Beyond the megapixel number, there are other factors involved here, such as the size of the sensor where those pixels are captured. In your typical point and shoot camera, the sensor may be the size of your pinky nail, while on a digital SLR (DSLR), it would be closer to Michael Phelps’ big toenail. This becomes a factor in other aspects of the image quality as well. Here’s a good reference.

Enough about Michael Phelps already. For the record, my abs are WAY funnier than his, so I don’t know how he got the gig on SNL over me. Anyway.

My child can never seem to hold his pose long enough for my camera to take his picture. Do I have a stupid baby? How can I make him seem smarter?

Don’t worry about Buster. Heck, most adults won’t hold a pose long enough while you are waiting for a camera to cycle, especially if you are using the built-in flash.

That’s my biggest pet peeve with digital point and shoot cameras – every one of them that I have used. A DSLR will cycle on an order of magnitude faster than any compact or P&S camera. If you want that rapid-fire mode, get a DSLR. Yes, I am aware of point and shoots that claim 60 frames per second in video mode. Will it work to isolate a single image to display on the web? Yes. Will that image make a great print? Probably not.

This is not a Digital SLR.

This is not an DSLR.

Hey, I just got a Digital SLR. I don’t know what that really means but the SLR part sounded sweet, like it could be an 1980s Datsun model that was reviewed in one of my dad’s Penthouse magazines. So far, it makes me look pretty cool, like I could pop out from somewhere and take a bunch of shots of a B-list celebrity getting sick on her car hood. But why else did I buy it again?

SLR stands for single-lens reflex, which simply means that there is one lens, and what you are looking at through the viewfinder is exactly what will be captured. There are other aspects to the design, but for our purposes, the reasons for buying a DSLR are plenty:

  • Speed/Cycle time – like I said, you’ll actually catch that smile as it happens
  • Interchangeable lenses – from fisheye to wide angle to super telephoto and beyond
  • “It’s what the pros use” – well, not all of them, but most
  • Ability to use off-camera flash for portraits and other purposes (Most point and shoots don’t have this, although some more expensive models do)

My motor skills and general physical presence have sometimes been compared to a young wildebeest’s. Are there any cameras specifically made for people who drop things a lot?

I don’t normally like to name brands in these sorts of things, but I will make one exception. I have a first hand account of the durability of the Olympus Stylus SW series. My dad, an avid fly fisherman who practices catch and release, released the wrong hand after capturing a photo of the trout, and down went the camera, into the stream and off a few rocks. He waded down, grabbed the camera, and much to his amazement, was able to use it for the rest of the trip with no problems. It is still in working order today, 4 months or so later. (This was a 770SW)

There are other brands out that claim this sort of durability, but most DSLRs or “Prosumer” level cameras will not be very durable when bounced off the sidewalk. Expect a $200 repair bill at minimum, which may mean you’re better off getting a new camera. So get a good case for it and use the strap every time you use your camera.

Joe was right.  Google Images has lots of showering women.

Joe was right. Google Images worked like a charm.

Do I want a camera that is small enough to swallow or one that can zoom well enough to see the neighbor lady before her nightly shower?

You want a camera that you are comfortable holding and one where your fingers can easily hit the on/off switch without making the battery eject. The major benefit of the compact point and shoots is that you are much more likely to have it with you when something magical happens. If you go all out and get that $2000 DSLR setup, chances are you won’t want to drag it to the park with you, and unless you have large pockets, it won’t go there either.

That said, if you are looking to take a photo for the cover of a magazine, it probably won’t be with the compact point and shoot. At some point you have to decide what it is you are after – snapshots or supershots. Consider that you may want one camera for each.

The other thing that comes to mind is the batteries. If you forget your charger (and you will), it’s nice when you can just go to the store and get some AA’s and be back in business. Many, many cameras use proprietary batteries. If you want something as usable as possible, get one that uses standard AA’s, but this is becoming harder and harder to find as the manufacturers look to cash in on the proprietary batteries. Oh, and if you really want amateur shower photos, search Google images.

What kinds of tiny indecipherable icons should appear on the dials and buttons of my new digital camera?

As many as possible. My favorite icon is “M”, put most people will be happy enough with “P” or “AUTO”. Sure, there are other “modes” that your camera may have, and every different brand has a different icon for the same meaning, but what those modes are really doing is setting Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO settings, and sometimes white balance and exposure compensation. Unless you are using a camera that makes it easy to change these values, you are probably better off using “AUTO”. The key here is how many clicks of the menu/dial it takes to get to these modes. If it’s on a physical dial/button, it takes less time to get to the right mode. You don’t want to be struggling to navigate some hideous menu just as your baby is taking his first steps.

Consider more modern recommendations.

Consider more modern recommendations. And hair.

I have a Sony computer. Does that mean I need a Sony camera? Oh wait, I also have a Canon printer. And an HP calculator. And I like that song by Paul Simon where he mentions his Nikon. Does any of this matter?

There are a few things that come to mind when I talk about brands.

Have you used a brand before? I ask this because you are more likely to be familiar with those icons as they tend to stay the same within brands, and you’ll find it more intuitive.

In general, I like to stick with brands that make cameras as one of their primary businesses, not something that a company just churned out so they don’t lose out on people who think they must buy the same brand as their computer and calculator.

For SLRs, I think brand matters even more. But there are other reasons to choose besides good feelings about a brand. Lenses from non-digital SLRs made in the nineties generally work on the modern models, so if you’ve got your dad’s Canon lenses laying around collecting dust, you’re probably best off getting a Canon. You can’t stick a Canon lens on a Nikon without spending a bunch of money on adapters, or vice versa.

Is digital zoom what you use if you can’t get a date with real zoom?

No, digital zoom is what you use if you don’t know how to use your favorite photo editor’s crop tool. One of the first things I do is disable this, as the exact same result can be achieved using the crop tool. Optical zoom is the ONLY zoom to use.

How big of a memory card do I need on my camera if we never leave our house because we have a newborn baby? What if I do get to go outside someday?

Certainly the number of photos you’re taking matters, but the answer here probably depends more on how many megapixels your camera boasts, and at what resolution you are capturing images.

Two 2GB cards for most point-and-shoots or two 4GB cards for most DSLRs will do for just about any camera in production as of this writing. With ever-expanding camera capabilities and users’ thirst for images, that is subject to change by the time you get to the end of this sentence.

If I hand my Digital SLR to my mother-in-law, can she just press a button or will she be panicked by the complexity and just try to make it seem like she took a picture by saying “CACLICK” loudly?

Again, AUTO isn’t so bad these days. No, you won’t have any Ansel Adams shots coming from it, but as long as your mother-in-law can hold the weight of it, and press the shutter, and you do all the setup, you will be fine. Again, you don’t want to be stumbling around with all sorts of modes and settings – get super-familiar with your camera well before you want to capture some magical moment.

Never wear a suit here again.

Never wear a suit here again.

The line at the Sears is really long and the people that work there look kind of sad. How can I avoid listening to a man cry even as he smiles and squeaks a toy at my kid?

There are entire books written on taking good portraits. But here are some quick tips:

  • Get help. Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Aunts, Uncles, friends, etc. Managing a baby, propped up on things, held like a ventriloquist, takes great care and caution. Get enough people out of the view, but keep them close enough to grab, hold, move and position things.
  • Get the lighting right. Natural light is always the easiest, but it’s not always possible. When indoors, you’ll need to make sure you don’t have shadows and unnatural looking hues. Get a piece of foamcore and put it on the floor in front of the shoot. This will bounce some light back up under the nose/chin area and make the photo look a bit more natural. If you are using flash, do not point it directly at the baby. No, they won’t freak out (most of the time), but they will look like a deer baby in headlights. If your only option is on-camera flash, get a ping-pong ball, or some other material like it (piece of a shower curtain, tissue paper, something) and let the light bounce/pass through it. Check out one of my contraptions, which I created more easily than you’d think. The difference that these methods can make will shock you.
A Fabergé egg makes for an interesting prop, if you have one of those.

A Fabergé egg makes for an interesting prop, if you have one of those.

  • Get creative with backgrounds and props. That receiving blanket might be ok to use for a few, but it gets old fast. Plus, it’s nasty when there’s spit up stains in the background. Consider more interesting props than the rattle and other typical baby items. Use over-sized or really undersized items. For some real impact, use that at first glance seems out of visual context, like a bottle of wine with the same vintage year as your child.
  • Get your point and shoot to behave like a “pro” camera. Forget “portrait mode” – zoom your lens to full telephoto, and back up as far as you can without falling off the Grand Canyon or into Buckingham fountain. I call this “sneakerzoom.” Using telephoto and feet fills the frame with your subject and has the effect of compressing space, which to most people is pleasing. By contrast, wide angle can introduce all sorts of distortions, which can be either annoying, or fun if you find ways to use it to your advantage.
  • Use proper posture. The latest trend spurred by point and shoots is to ignore the optical viewfinder and rely solely on the LCD to compose a shot. As a result, people often hold the camera at an arm’s length as they frame it. This creates unintended motion that makes it harder to create a good shot. Look at the way racecar drivers hold a steering wheel. They are usually tucked up, arms bent to the wheel. Why? For strength and stability. If you want steadier shots, tuck your elbows into your sides and make yourself stiff. If the camera has an optical viewfinder, use it, because it tends to make you avoid the added shake that makes photos fuzzier.

So far, I’ve taken 200 photos of Buster in his car seat. My uncle thinks I lost my job and now live inside a Toyota. Got any other ideas for venues?

Try getting down low with your little one. Most boring baby snapshots are taken while hovering over the model. You’ve all seen that in the crib overheard shot they use in 99% of hospital shots. Instead, try shooting through the bars of the crib, or get down on the floor and shoot at eye level.

Do go out to a park, place a baby blanket on the grass and shoot. And do take that wicker basket with baby in photo. But don’t forget that the best photos may not be portraits at all. Focus on capturing the real milestones as they happen, not just the moments you create by making the baby pose perfectly for you.

Any other tips?

Remember, safety first. I meant what I said about not falling off the Grand Canyon.

I thought I’d present three products that aren’t necessarily worthy of their own posts, but when their forces are combined, create… like 45 seconds of reasonably useful reading.

Speaking of reasonably useful, I found this reasonably useful. It’s a waterproof vinyl, lightweight blanket-thing. It’s not so much for keeping the kid warm as it is for laying out on the grass and having a picnic or watching fireworks or baby breakdancing or something. I can tell it will be better than dragging an old wool blanket around – I doubt it can get musty or get those weird little spider egg cases stuck to it that freak your wife out. It’s made by a company called Diaper Dude, which I assume is trying to appeal to guys. Considering that and the fact it weighs nothing, I’m not sure why it has the carrying strap. I’m also not sure I would have paid the $50+ for this thing. But we got it as a gift, so hurray for Buster and other people’s conspicuous consumption, er, I mean generosity.

Sometime back, I asked people on Twitter whether there were any products they couldn’t live without in the first few months. “Get the The Miracle Blanket if you like sleeping” was the instant response from one of the guys who writes at DadCentric. So even though I have mad swaddling skills with a normal blanket, I went ahead and bought it. It’s shaped so that you can wrap up your kid like eleven times in a way that makes him either want to top himself with tomatoes and sour cream and serve himself to drunk college kids, or just lose consciousness. It definitely works, although I’m not sure it’s an actual miracle. An actual miracle would be if I could figure out another way to get him out of it besides holding one end and sending him spinning as I unroll him like a red carpet in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

It’s not just a pretty name. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste works. This one I can heartily recommend, as I’m proud to say that Buster’s butt has been rash-free since we took him home from the hospital, where he had developed some redness thanks to the institutional stuff they were putting on there. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste clearly forms a superior layer of butt protection. I realize there are others out there that likely work, but none with a name like this – and people like buying it, too. We put some on our registry and three different people bought us some. And I’m glad, because we’re going through it pretty quickly. Come to think of it, I can’t find one of the tubes so I’m now wondering whether one of the grandpas was kidding when he asked if it worked for adults too.

dadorbust no-brainer product pick guidelines: I don’t do competitive reviews or discuss the merits of several models when I offer my purchase decisions. I use widely trusted sources, personal recommendations, and a fully functioning forebrain.  I try not to yammer on with feature comparisons- I just tell you what I picked, the top few reasons why, and maybe I throw a few tips in.  And I follow-up with an update or separate post if something goes wrong with the product.

This ceiling fan is a more convincing father than you are.

Reading your child's eye contact, this ceiling fan is a more compelling father figure than you are.

Buster’s a great kid.   Considering his only job right now is to eat, poop, and to try not to cry, that may be a relatively meaningless statement, but so far, he’s pretty good at all those things.

That said, he doesn’t know me from an inanimate carbon rod.  At least not yet.

It is admittedly kind of thankless to be a dad of a very young infant.  If you have a kid Buster’s age, you’re working harder right now than you have in a while.   Previous divisions of labor have gone out the window.  Now, she’s in charge of feeding the baby and you’ve got… everything else.   Complaining results in immediate disqualification from the #1 Dad competition for the year, so if you want the coffee mug, you should shut up now.  This is why I’m writing this post in the second person.

Anyway, you’re running ragged.  You’re running both your laundry and hers… and his.  You’re running to the grocery store and running to catch the recycling guy.   Running the microwave and running the dishwasher.  Running the vacuum and running for Starbucks.  Cleaning the litter box and cleaning the dog run.

If for some reason you’re not doing these things, please call my wife and tell her so that I can seem comparatively awesome.

But if you’ve bothered to find this blog, chances are, you’re right there with me.  You’re even doing things around the house you may have never done.  Like having an opinion on a tablecloth.  And perking up when you hear about something new to do with chicken.

You’re doing a lot of things for the benefit of this little child you decided would be a good idea to go and make.

And if he’s still under four weeks, in all likelihood there’s not a damn glimmer of recognition in his eyes.

Actual expressions of genuine gratitude come about 30 years later.

So what are you supposed to do?  Suck it up, and be a man, boy, that’s what.

Or vent in your own daddy blog.  I’ll even link you.  We’ll be Twitter buds.   I’ll be like, “Man, I’m up early!” and you’ll be all like, “TELL me about it!” and I’ll be like, “We’re getting ready for tummy time” and then I’ll realize how girly that all sounds, so I’ll point out a joke on a new sports-related website with mildly misogynistic banner ads and oh, how we’ll LAUGH… <sigh>

Anyway, here are some constructive things to do while waiting for your baby to actually discern between you and the lab mix with more hair and only slightly worse breath.

  • Um, go brush your teeth man, that’s nasty.
  • Put the photos that you’ve taken so far online. You’re probably tired by now of taking photos of your kid in the car seat or in a swaddle.   Car seat.  Swaddle.  Swaddle.  Car seat.   I know.  But people aren’t tired of looking at them yet, so upload them for the jonesing grandmas and aunts.  We use Shutterfly so people can order prints.  There are lots of good services, but this was the one my wife seemed most willing to use, for whatever reason.  And even the Grandmas figured it out.
  • Look into college savings plans. A lot more tools and programs are provided these days than when our parents were saving for school.   And I hear college is now required to play in the NBA.
  • Search deep down within the core of your fatherhood to hawk the first loogie for this glove.  Shoot directly at point #32, above.  Rub dirt from your hometown field deeply in its leathery grain.  Pray for a lefty closer.

    Venture deep down within the core of your fatherhood and hawk the first loogie for this glove. Shoot it directly at point #32, above. Rub dirt from your hometown field deeply in its leathery grain at all labeled points. Pray for a lefty closer.

    Go buy a baseball mitt. I held myself back when it came to thinking in detail about stuff like this when we were still just hoping for a healthy baby.  This one I could barely wait for.   Whether I was having a son or daughter, I knew I was getting one, because team sports are vital for raising confident and cooperative adults.   The first mitt will be made of plastic and won’t need to be broken in.  But the next one will, so I might as well start now.  For you, a mitt may not be that symbolic prized childhood possession that you’ve been thinking about – but go ahead and get the one that you did fantasize about and put it away.  For both of you.

  • Think about your diet and lifestyle. Okay, I cannot stand when the recently converted preach.  But a bit over a year ago, I was a smoker who got 90% of his calories from chocolate products and proudly proclaimed college was meant so he wouldn’t have to lift anything heavy.   When we started thinking about having kids, I realized it wouldn’t be a great example, nor very nice of me to DIE while they still needed me.  And it wasn’t that hard to switch to a completely healthy lifestyle.  I swear.  Everyone kisses your ass for months and then women look at you again without scowling.  Plus your wife will love the gun show.
  • Get more insurance. That dying thing again, yeah, get life insurance for that.  But there are other kinds of protections that probably make sense for you.  I have a good friend who survived a tough battle with a childhood illness and once told me that the fact that his father sold insurance for awhile and bought what he sold saved their family from financial ruin.
  • Enjoy your favorite brand of nude photography. Because you still aren’t getting any.  Sorry.

Funny by proxy


It’s Labor Day weekend, so I’m going to spend the time I would have spent posting eating meat.  But I didn’t want to leave you with nothing.

Here’s someone else’s good work.  My theory is that by showing it to you, I myself may seem mildly funnier with only a few keystrokes.

Salt n Pepa are two important pillars in the foundation of your childs music education.

Salt 'n Pepa are two important pillars in the foundation of your child's musical education.

For some reason, Buster really doesn’t like diaper-changing time. He lets out these yowls that make me worry about my future hearing ability and his future hygiene habits.

Personally, I think the idea of someone taking care of an undercarriage wash for me sounds rather convenient. Not Buster. But he does seem to relax a bit if I sing to him.

There are all kinds of music that have been written for specific occasions and activities.

There are a million songs for falling in love. There are songs for getting it on once you’re in love. There are songs for breaking up once you’re out of love again. There are songs for showing you love your country. There are songs for birthdays. There are songs for funerals. There are even songs for workin’ on the railroad.  And of course, there are lullabies for making babies fall asleep.

But there aren’t very many for cleaning poop off of them.

I think this is unfortunate. And so I’m presenting a list of songs that can be easily modified for you to sing to your child while changing diapers. I do this at the risk you’ll think that I’m hopelessly disturbed. I do recommend playing the actual linked songs in the background so you know where the lyrics fit in. Or maybe just sticking with a nice music box.

  • “Poopytown,” sung to the tune of Funkytown. Lyric sample: Gotta make a poop at a time that’s right for me... / Won’t you take me to… Poopytown? Won’t you take me to… Poopy TOWN.

  • “Little Deuce Poop,” sung to the tune of Little Deuce Coupe. Lyric sample: Well I’m not bragging babe, so don’t put me down / But I got the stinkiest poop in town / It’s a little deuce poop / now you know why I cry

  • “The Kid from Poopanema,” sung to the tune of The Girl from Ipanema. Lyric sample: Brown and tan and so damn yucky / the kid from Poopanema gets plucky and when he pushes, each time he pushes, says “unnnnngh”
  • “Poopin Ain’t Easy,” rapped to the beat of Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy. Lyric sample: Anything goes when that smell’s up my nose / cause poopin’ ain’t easy / naw-naw-no, poopin’ ain’t easy

  • “Fixing A-Hole,” sung to the tune of Fixing a Hole. Lyric sample: I’m fixing a hole where the poop’s getting out to stop your hind from wandering…

  • “Get off of my Child,” sung to the tune of Get off of My Cloud. Lyric sample: Hey! Poop! Get off of my child! / Hey! Poop! Get off of my child! / Hey! Poop! Get off of my child! / Don’t hang around or he’ll poo you out!”
  • “Doo Doo Doo, Da Da Da,” sung to the tune of the Police song by a similar name. Lyric sample: Doo doo doo on Da Da Da / this is what I waited for? / Doo doo doo on Da Da Da / I think I got some on the floor.

And finally, my personal favorite:

  • “Poop,” rapped and sung to the tune of Shoop. Lyric sample: Brightness, my son, I wanna have some fun / Come come and give me some of that yum-yum / Chocolate chip, doo doo dip / Can I get a scoop? / You know you make me wanna poop. / Poop! Poopie Doop! Poopie Doop! Poopie Doopie Doopie Doop!

Salt N’ Pepa also gave the world Push It, an excellent listening choice for the youngster about 15 minutes before you sing the selections above.

Got your own favorite poop tunes?  Please do share.

I’m going to try to go the next 12 hours now without using the word poop. Um, starting now.


This is also a booby.

This is also a fun-looking booby.

I can’t really hold back anymore. I have to talk about them.

There’s no way that you’re not wondering about them if you’re a dad-to-be. Your friends have probably told you about what happens. If you’re like me, and your wife was never all that busty, you may think it won’t really be that big of a deal.

That’s never been why you think your wife is hot, anyway. You’re okay with it if there’s no big difference. Guys who fixate on breasts have issues. Your wife is not to be objectified. Yeah.

Well, my friend, I’m going to tell you something using the deepest and most powerful parts of my intellect.

They are here. And they are spectacular.

My wife has always been beautiful. But add a very healthy C-cup and she is now driving me crazy. That’s the rub – or lack therein. I really haven’t been allowed anywhere near them. They’re not really meant for me right now. They’re Buster’s for the next several months.

I’ve heard that some freako dads have a problem with that idea and even insist on formula feeding for this reason. That’s crazy talk. I’m not like that.

I recognize that they are no longer for mere decoration. And it’s not like I want to be dressed in a diaper and nurse or something weird like that. But they look so… fun.

Would one good old-fashioned motorboat be so bad?

Okay, before you judge, you must understand that I’m in territory right now I haven’t seen since my teens. Sex has been expressly forbidden by medical professionals for at least six weeks. Sex was not exactly plentiful over the previous six…teen weeks. This puts me in the neighborhood of months of absolutely nothing not requiring an Internet connection. Hey, I said not to judge.

Anyway, back to advice about the massive mammaries.

Don’t worry too much about getting caught admiring them, as she will be at least slightly impressed with them as well. You can get away with staring at your wife’s rack a lot easier than staring at other people’s wives’ racks.

You may also notice her wearing her shirts a bit more open, to display and sway them about. She may even say she’s going bra-less because she has to nurse every two and a half hours. But you and me both know it’s because she’s taunting you.

That said, don’t fall into the trap of talking about them more than she does. You don’t want to look like you’re TOO happy about it. Because if you do get caught staring and smiling and mumbling faintly too often, you will get the inevitable question, “are you going to be all disappointed when they’re not this big anymore?”

Okay, that's enough staring at the melons now.

The internal answer is YES, of course, you will be disappointed when they’re gone. How would she feel if suddenly for like 4 months, you had six pack abs, and then just as suddenly they vanished? Exactly the same way as you will feel when this show is over. Disillusioned, hurt and angry. That is why I don’t burden my wife by developing six pack abs.

For answering aloud, however, I’d recommend something more like, “Don’t be silly, honey,” which clearly isn’t a lie.

I should also warn you that they can get sore, so try not to overdo the extra hugs where you lead with your face. And although “accidentally” spilling water all over her when she’s in a white t-shirt might seem to you like a good way to celebrate a gold medal win during the 28th Olympiad, to her, it may seem otherwise.

I’ve heard stories that once sex does begin, all kinds of crazy stuff can happen with milk shooting out and faces and sheets getting soaked and, frankly I’m not sure if we’re ready for that. I don’t think I’ll tell you how that turns out, either. Just passing on the info.

For now, I will simply rejoice in all my blessings. Heck, right now it’s Dad AND Bust.

One of the stark realities of a new baby is that you will, in fact, get poop on you. Many times. In Rorschach blots on your favorite shirt.

Today’s splatter looked to me like a naked woman. To my wife, the same blot might have looked like a desperate and woefully undersexed man. This is why Rorschachs can sometimes be useful.

The good news is that the poop doesn’t smell like your own, yet. It actually smells sort of pleasant. I think Buster’s smells like toasted almonds. Different dads have different takes.

Regardless, I don’t really care if Buster’s poop smelled like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on a plate of rum butter, I don’t want poop on me. It’s kind of a rule I made for myself when I was around about his age. So I don’t want to experience it more than once. I also don’t even particularly like looking at collections of poop, so a simple trash can wouldn’t do. Just knowing that poop is gathering in piles in the room is unsettling enough.

This is why we’ve invested in a device that has been optimized to minimize poop exposure. The $30 has been well worth it so far. It’s called a Baby Trend Diaper Champ. Basically, the idea behind it is that it seals off the poop from the rest of the world. It looks sort of like R2D2 and has a weighted airlock system that makes a really cool sound when it is engaged, too. And its name has the word “trend” in it, so this way you know your baby’s poop will be the coolest.

There’s another popular one on the market called the Diaper Genie, but that one requires specialized bags. I try to avoid having to buy specialized refills for things that are specifically made to be thrown immediately and directly into the garbage. I’d like to get into that business, though.

The Diaper Champ takes any generic “tall kitchen” bags, which I have always thought aren’t all that tall, as far as trash bags go. I mean, have you ever bought a bag specifically made for garbage that is smaller than a “tall kitchen” bag? I think that’s where Starbucks got the idea for their Tall.

Ahem. So again, here’s why I bought and like this one:

  • Seals poop off from the world
  • Takes any kind of generic tall kitchen bag (I recommend drawstring)
  • Easy to empty without getting poop on my hand
  • Resembles R2D2 and has cool airlock sound when using
dadorbust no-brainer product pick guidelines: I don’t do competitive reviews or discuss the merits of several models when I offer my purchase decisions. I use widely trusted sources, personal recommendations, and a fully functioning forebrain.  I try not to yammer on with feature comparisons- I just tell you what I picked, the top few reasons why, and maybe I throw a few tips in.  And I follow-up with an update or separate post if something goes wrong with the product.

Rover T can still remember when he was allowed to express his anals on the couch.

Rover T tearfully thinks back to the days when he was allowed to express his anals on the couch.

For years, our dog Rover T has been the centerpiece of our home life. Our first kid, if you will. We have taken hundreds of photos of him. We get him birthday presents. We follow a guidebook of places for him to romp. We bought an SUV basically to accommodate his 100 pound heft. We even procured him an orthopedic bed as he began to age. He’s… a priority.

As he should be. Rover T is a large, attractive beast, with a strong chest and long, graceful legs – just like his owner. He’s very well trained, too. I talk to him like a person, instead of yelling commands at him, so he seems even smarter. Overall, most people who meet him think he is pretty awesome.

Lately, they might not think so. The arrival of Buster has turned Rover T from a proud and cheerful animal into the equivalent of an angsty Goth teenager.

Perhaps I can demonstrate with a typical greeting from Rover T, before and after Buster came home.

BEFORE: “What’s up, man, good to see you! Where ya been? Smells like somewhere good. Hey – you want to play, maybe go for a walk? I have this ball – check it out, I can toss it around!”

AFTER: “Uhhhnngh. You’re coming down the stairs AGAIN with that giant thing? No, I don’t want to say hello to your spawn. Get it away. Move that thin- stop – I can’t even look at you. <turns his back to car seat> Uhhhngh. Wake me when he’s in college.”

Or maybe it would be better illustrated via his response to the question, “Hey, buddy, do you want a treat?”

BEFORE: “TREAT? OH MY GOD YEAH! I’ve been wondering if you’d ask that all day. <spins around in circles> Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” <CHOMP>

AFTER: <sniffs the air in front of him> “Er, is that supposed to make up for the fact that you’ve completely abandoned me in favor of a new, hairless dog that can’t even move around and seems to be allowed to crap wherever it wants?” <takes treat, spits out on floor, walks away>

Or finally, via a typical experience at the park.

BEFORE: “Oh, it’s so great to be here. How are you, Farley? How ya doin’? You, white dog, with the dirty ass? How you been? Good? Good! Oh, here’s a stick. I think I’ll take a quick sprint with it. Wheee! Wonderful to be here, isn’t it, Shamus? Time to rest in the grass. I love life. You rule, Dad.”

AFTER: <sniffs in an angry fashion> “Stupid dad calls this five minute walk through the park on the way to Starbucks quality time. What a bunch of crap. I think I’ll take one on the opposite side of the park just so he has to double back. Okay. I’m done here. Take me back to that dump that you make us call home.”

I’m not really sure what to do to cheer up Rover T. A few weeks before Buster was born, we played recordings of babies crying in front of the dog. I did the whole thing with bringing Buster’s blanket home ahead of the baby. Since then, I’ve brought Rover T new toys, spent extra time with him, given him extra affection, even allowed him to sit closer to the table than Buster during meals.

But the bottom line is he knows he’s not #1 anymore. And he ain’t happy about it. He refuses to acknowledge Buster with any more than a passing glance, and that’s if we beg him to approach him. He’s just going to try to pretend we’re not in the room whenever we’re paying more attention to the baby. He’s spent most of his time lately with his back turned to us, grumbling whenever we audibly delight in Buster.

Sometimes he’s less passive about his protest. When I was snapping some photos of Buster in front of him, he began whining and got really anxious – until I pointed the camera at him and started taking pictures of his nervous doggy grin. I soon realized I didn’t actually need the camera, as long as I held my hands up to the side of my face and made a shutter snapping sound. Apparently my dog is a desperate exhibitionist.

My friends with kids and dogs said they got the same thing from their pooches until the babies were old enough to start dropping scraps from high chairs and otherwise become new suppliers of food and fun.

Here’s hoping that Rover T doesn’t start wearing black lipstick and dressing in shorts and garters before that happens.

Ants make me say uncle.

Ants make me say uncle.

I’m running up the basement stairs, with an extra lilt in my step. It is 9PM and I’ve just locked the back door. I’m about to be alone with my wife and Buster. As I skip with glee toward the main floor, my wife locks the front door and rests her back on it.

She sighs. I sigh. We smile at each other.


It’s her mother, who’s been handed a paper plate or something by my mother.

“I don’t want you to attract animals from leaving the dog food out, so – here,” my mother calls from somewhere in the darkness.

My wife’s mother hands my wife the plate. My wife accepts it and slowly closes the door, despite the clucking of grandmothers still filling the air.

She looks down.

The plate is teeming with ants.

She yelps and hands it to me. I panic and run around in a few circles and then run it downstairs and outside again. I hurl it into the night.

This is a perfect microcosm of what it’s like to have help from grandparents during the first week or two.

I could tell you about a dozen similar stories from just a few days’ visit. One involves soap suds pouring from my dishwasher and filling my kitchen. Another involves the grandpas proudly sharing the task of cooking over a roaring grease fire by setting my grill way past “HIGH,” past “LITTLE DRAWING OF FIRE MEANT TO CLEARLY INDICATE IT SHOULD ONLY BE USED ONLY WHEN LIGHTING” to “OH MY GOD IT’S SO HIGH YOU YOURSELF MUST BE COMPLETELY HIGH TO THINK THIS IS APPROPRIATE.”

I had tried to make everything simple and easy. I wrote what I thought was a very touching letter to the grandparents, accompanied by a list of simple processess for around our house. It was a long list, I’ll admit. Okay, it was seven pages. But it was perfectly reasonable. There were procedures for laundry, trash, meals, everything. And then a round-up of ways they could help us. It was not initially well-received. It did not grow on anyone, either.

In the end, I ended up allowing the grandparents to do nearly nothing. I ran around my house taking everything from their hands like they were children. They are justified in feeling I was being condescending. I am justified in taking everything from their hands.

My goal was simply to keep my wife stress-free, so she could focus on Buster. It stresses her out to a degree when things aren’t being done properly. She has worked hard to train me on all the procedures for the house, from not using the evil evil forks on the magic happy pans to remembering to find the five things out of all our trash that can actually be recycled to cleaning She Who Will Not Be Named‘s litter box to catching food in my mouth on command. Well, not the last one. But I’ll be damned if I’m the only one following the rules.

What we realized by about the third day was that we really didn’t need all that much help. My wife was pretty good at being a Mom, it turns out. And I was actually kind of on top of things.

We found that the few hours in the late evenings and early mornings when we were alone were the most peaceful and relaxed ones – even if we had a mini-crisis with a screaming baby.

The other thing is we have been really lucky with Buster – healthy, good natured and basically really cooperative so far. I’ve just knocked every form of wood in my house.

But I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s because his mother and the world immediately around him has been nearly completely peaceful.

Okay, so here are my tips for making your baby’s world in his first couple of weeks as chill as possible, too – even if you are overwhelmed by visitors:

  • Put your wife’s needs and wants first. You’re asking her to put your child’s needs and wants first. So it’s only fair. I warn my wife that she only has a man slave until the baby’s six months old, at which point she is no longer going to get her way automatically anymore. But for now, I say, make everything easy for her and be at her beck and call. I make sure she has her cellphone on her and made her the promise that no matter what I’m doing in the house, I’ll be upstairs with her by the third ring. For the first time I feel lucky I am not wealthy enough to have a very large house.
  • Be willing to be the bad guy. Don’t make your wife confront people or answer a million questions about where things are or argue with people over what the baby needs or hear any form of criticism. Step in and take some punches on the chin. Don’t pick fights or fire back when relatives are rude, or you’re going to create longer-term problems. Just rope-a-dope while they’re being ridiculous. But refuse to give up ground when it comes to how you want your family to be treated and your home to operate.
  • Take the morning feedings as soon as you can. First, it gives your wife a chance to sleep in. Second, it doesn’t really take that long to do the feeding, and afterward, you can park the kid in the car seat and go about your normal pre-baby morning, presuming you weren’t still sleeping off hangovers. Plus, it’s pretty damn awesome to watch the morning break with your kid and not have to share him with anyone.
  • Remember how much your own parents love you. That feeling of desperation that you have when you think you might not be not taking care of your kid properly? Yeah, they’ve been living with that for like 30 years and right now they’re feeling it too. It’s called love. Take it easy on them if you can.

Ironically, these are devices for improving your babys healthcare.

Ironically, these are devices for assuring your baby's health.

It’s incredibly tempting to give you the minute details of the first five days of my son’s life. It’s been incredible. Words of description lag by miles behind the joy. I’ve seen my wife as never before. I’ve seen myself as never before. In the shining grey pools of Buster’s eyes, I’ve seen promise, destiny, and legacy all at once. I’ve found my meaning.

But it is my meaning, and it is my family’s intensely intimate experience. And I’m going to selfishly hold it as close to my chest as possible.

In writing this post, I’m also reminding myself that this blog is not about my family as much as it is about helping you with yours. And I’m supposed to amuse you. So here’s some stuff I learned since Buster busted loose.

Billy Rubin is not an actual person messing with your baby. Bilirubin is related to jaundice, a very typical occurrence, but one that requires the hospital to monitor its levels carefully in the first few days. Billy Rubin is a producer who pulls on his pants one leg at a time and then makes gold records.

Nurses are powered by astounding levels of sugar and saturated fat. Maybe it’s because of the crazy hours, or living around the stress of panicked patients and arrogant doctors, or just a tremendous amount of denial, but a lot of those nurses are very overweight. I’m not judging – in fact, I’m telling you this is a good thing for you. You can use the baked goods section of your local supermarket as a means to better healthcare. The dozen donuts I brought in for the first morning instantly changed the willingness of certain people to go the extra mile for us and by the third treat, the staff was eating out of my hand. Especially if I wasn’t paying attention while holding a muffin. Trust me – bring sweets.

There is no such thing as pumping “in style.” For some odd reason, the most popular breast pump on the market is named the “Pump In Style” by Medela. When I walked in to the hospital room for the first time to see my wife hooked up double barrel-style to a machine pulling liquid from her body through plastic funnels, “stylish” was not the word that first sprung forth. Maybe the marketing folks thought by putting the pump in a bag that doesn’t look like a carrier for a missile control box from Spies Like Us, it becomes stylish. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing to witness. Breast pumping is just not.

Your friends will indeed surprise you in their levels of reaction and support. MakesMeHoller was right. Most of our friends were as awesome as expected. But some were just totally weird and either ignored my announcement completely or sent bizarre responses. With one friend I found myself dragging out a response until I realized I just needed to let it go. One extended family member wrote back only, “That’s a nice name.” Couldn’t muster a “congrats.” On the other hand, some people with whom I didn’t previously feel as close went out of their way to send touching messages and offers of support.

You will lose all sense of time and space while looking at your baby. In a few cases I think as many as 30 minutes passed while I was just staring at Buster. You’ll be fascinated by every facial expression your kid manages. Make sure you repeat aloud to yourself the reason your wife sent you into the nursery until you have completed your assignment. The lack of sleep combined with the irresistible urge to stare will render you useless without such tactics.

You will be willing to punch out an elderly lady to get your kid to stop screaming. It’s pretty freaky to me that the mere sound of your baby crying will cause milk to drip from your wife’s breasts. But I am also pretty sure that the baby’s cries have equally strong effects on Dads. When I’m locked in on Buster trying to quickly swaddle him and he gets upset, I can’t hear anything else in the whole world. In the first few days I think I batted about .200 in swaddling – one success for every five tries. I’m up to about .750, but that drops down to like .150 when the kid is crying. Overall, I think I would platoon myself and only put myself in the lineup against lefties in domes.

dadorbust by age

disclaimers and claimers

Any advice you take from this blog is at your own risk. I am just some guy who happens to know how to operate blog software. Please don't hold me responsible if you follow me right off a cliff. Just know it's certainly not intentional. If you're a company that wants me to remove copyrighted material from my blog, just email me politely at a d m i n @ d a d o r b u s t . c o m and I'll take the material down. I actually never upload images that aren't my own, and only link to others' posted material, so you should probably take it up with the actual violator first. To the rest of you, please DO take my ideas, use my jokes - just don't steal my prose. No copy-pasting-mining. Thanks for even considering it, though.
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