Babyproof Your Telephone Jacks

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Before
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After

When I started baby-proofing, I immediately zeroed in on the power outlets. But I ignored the telephone jacks. I haven’t had a landline in years, and thinking of them as just data jacks, I thought they were harmless.

Wrong, as my electrical engineer father-in-law pointed out. Those plain old telephone jacks carry 50 volts DC. They aren’t digital, but analog. They used to power phones even if the power was out.

And my apartment had a telephone jack right above the baby’s sleep area.

My dear wife kept complaining, repeatedly, over a span of about two weeks, that Sebastian was looking at the telephone jack right above his head, and was starting to reach for it.

I ignored her. I told her it was a harmless data jack.

I finally looked it up on Wikipedia to silence my wife – to prove to her that they were actually harmless. And that’s when I discovered they weren’t.

The Solution

The solution is simple. You don’t use the landline anymore. Replace the telephone jack wall plate with a blank one. I bought a metal one from Home Depot for $1 that will probably survive a nuclear blast, and is definitely tamper-proof.

It takes 5 minutes and can be done with a flathead screwdriver.

  1. Unscrew the telephone jack wall plate.
  2. Disconnect the wires from the wall plate. Tape them off and separate them so they don’t short. Stuff them into the hole.
  3. Install the blank wall plate in its place.
  4. Don’t tell your landlord. Fix it before you move out.

My baby sleeps better than me

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Bash will be 4 months old this week. For the most part he takes regular naps and spends most of the night asleep. He still wakes frequently to feed, but after eating he goes back to sleep very quickly. I’m slowly trying to get him to sleep for longer and to eat less at night.

I wish I could fall asleep that easily. Tonight is especially rough because Tommy is away for the next few days. I know that I’m 100% capable of watching Bash, and frankly I care for him during the night anyway while Tommy sleeps like a bump on a log. That being said, I miss that slobby bump.

I’ve personally shared a bed for as long as I can remember. Before moving out of my parents’ apartment my sister and I would share a bed. Now Tommy and I sleep together, and Bash is right next to me in his own little space. I’m so tempted to bring Bash into bed with me all night. I know I won’t sleep good at all so I’m not worried about hurting him. However, it isn’t Bash that needs the physical closeness, it’s his mother. Sad I know. I turn on his white noise toy more for myself than for him. Although I often complain that my life is dull, I crave routine. When something is thrown off, like Tommy being away, I don’t know what to do with myself. No wonder Bash was a wreck when Tommy and I left him with my family for 10+ hours to attend a friend’s wedding.

My ambitions for Sebastian

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I have many unfulfilled goals – just like everyone else. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a rewarding life and I’ve gotten to do many things I would have never imagined. But there are also many things I’ve imagined that I’ve never done and probably never will. I still dream though. I have an active imagination.

But one big thing has changed recently. Before, when I’d imagine some awesome achievement and reward, I’d always picture myself. But now, sometimes I think of Sebastian instead.

That makes sense right? We’re finite. We’ll die someday. Some doors are already closed to us (just a few!) due to the choices we’ve already made.

But Sebastian – yes Sebastian – all doors are open to you. You’re born into the wealthiest and most dynamic country on Earth with a silver spoon in your mouth. You can do anything. I know you can’t even crawl yet, and you shit yourself multiple times a day, but you can do anything. I know it. Eventually.


We tend to see our children as extensions of ourselves. If we’re not careful, our unfulfilled ambitions can be a burden on them. We want to live vicariously through them, to play back history, but at a key moment, make them succeed where we stumbled. Even though that game is over. Even though people don’t even play that game anymore. Even though that moment’s long forgotten by everyone but ourselves.

And as a result, these burdened kids grow up with expectations, a plan, a formula. Some get depressed they can never live up to their parents wishes. Others rebel in various unproductive ways. And most finally grow out of their shackles and get to be their own person. But it is still a burden. Our dreams have become a burden.


How can I dream for Sebastian in a helpful way – without burdening him? I have no idea, but here are some possible things I can do:

His interests, not mine. The world will be vastly different in 20 years, and he’ll “get it” in some ways much better than me. I’ll need to respect that. He needs to choose his own fields to endeavor in. You can’t predict what will be important.

Introduce possibilities. To help him discover what he likes, I could show him a variety of places and things: zoos, aquariums, nature, labs, buildings, museums, books, the Internet, and historical bulls**t.

Provide resources, not orders. Within reason, provide him with all the resources I can afford for him to pursue his interests (assuming a reasonable rate of return). Don’t tell him what those interests are.

His fire, not mine. Obviously I do not want him to be on the couch smoking weed all day. Hopefully, if he can pursue his own interests, he won’t. But there’s no way I can order him to do things (beyond you-must-try-it-for-at-least-a-month I guess).

No outdated prejudices. You know how your moderately racist or homophobic parents or grandparents are kind of embarrassing and wrong? That’s going to be me about robosexuals and transracial people in 20 years. I can’t burden Sebastian with outdated thinking.

Any other suggestions?

 

 

 

Hair everywhere

Bash was born with a perfect head of hair. It was just beautiful. The color, the style…everything.

20160219_083445Well now that he is 3 months old, most of that lovely hair has fallen out. He essentially has a bald ring around his head where it rubs against the mattress. Not only that, but the little hairs that have come out are everywhere! It’s like having a pet dog. Sometimes these hairs end up in his diapers. During tummy time I’m sure he eats a few of them. I’m hoping he doesn’t get a hairball stuck in his body somewhere. I believe that actually happened. Sort of. A few years ago there was a news story about a girl who was addicted to eating her hair and had a hair ball accumulate in her stomach.

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My standard hair loss after a shower

I’ve also started to lose hair as well. It’s still not at the normal level it was before I was pregnant, and I’m not worried about balding. What is a pain is the mess. Before pregnancy, I used to be embarrassed at work because we had light colored floors. People would know it was my hair on the floor because it was so long and dark. I miss not having to vacuum everyday because pregnancy slows your hair loss.

Tommy has wild hair which he never combs. It’s all over the place. Both in the apartment and on top of his head. There’s also a bunch of it stuck to the car ceiling. I almost wish he would go bald.

We are all very lucky to have ample heads of hair. It’s just a pain when you want to keep the place clean. I got very happy this morning when I mopped and put out a fresh, hairless blanket for the baby. During my pre-pregnancy days, going to Six Flags would have had a similar effect. It’s pretty sad.

Couple-time after the baby

He's asleep! Delta force: Go go go!
He’s asleep! Delta force: Go go go!

If you have a baby and still want to do date/couple things with your spouse, you need planning and opportunism.

When the baby is awake, you’re generally going to want to spend time with him. Especially if you work in an office away from home, the time you have with him is pretty precious.

However, you and your wife will still want to do adult things that babies cannot participate in. Some examples:

  • Baking something complex
  • Playing a co-op video game
  • God forbid, actually having sex

The natural time to do such things is when the baby is asleep. However, how many of you just waste the precious nap-time duration just laying around playing with your phone? Yep, guilty as charged. The antidote to this is planning and opportunism.

The first step is planning, and all this entails is keeping in mind a few things you’d like to do together with your spouse over the next few days. Yeah – it’s lame to plan. I get it. Spontaneity is way better. However, even lamer than planning is not-doing-anything. I think some planning is just required now…

The second step is opportunism. Once the baby goes down for a long nap (based on his daily routine and patterns), you and your spouse should waste no time, and jump into action.

Now don’t take me too literally – I’m not saying you must have planned activities all the time, nor am I saying that you must do couple things right every time the baby falls asleep. And obviously it’s still cool to lay around and play with your phone – it’s a great way to relax.

But if you’re finding you have no time for couple time, this is one strategy Mary and I have used sometimes to get our date-time achievement.

Infant/Toddler Rocker

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I love this thing. We visited one of my cousins a few weeks ago. He has a 20 month old and a brand new baby. They have a small bouncer seat and let Bash sit in it while we ate dinner.

Bash quickly fell asleep and looked so comfortable. I was jealous because I wanted an adult sized one! I’m not really for restricting children’s movement or propping them up until they can on their own etc. At the same time, If I have to eat or do certain chores where I can’t hold Bash, I don’t want to leave him alone in the other room. So Tommy and I researched some bouncers/rockers and we decided to purchase the Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker.

I’d say Bash maybe spends 30-45 minutes or so a day in his rocker. Most of the time it is when Tommy and I are sitting down to have breakfast or dinner together. I feel like the baby being in his own sort of chair helps him to feel more a part of things. It also makes it easier for me to read to Bash. I have trouble holding both him and a book, and I don’t want him always laying on his back.

Maybe my favorite thing about the rocker is that Bash can watch me cook! I used to wear him as I did simple cooking (a.k.a. assembling a sandwich) but it’s kind of difficult to make a variety of things without using a knife or method of heating. With the rocker, I sit Bash in the dining room so he has a clear view of the kitchen without getting in the way. I enjoy giving him “cooking lessons” and I can’t wait for him to get more involved when he is a toddler. Tommy has come home a couple of times during my lessons. It’s somewhat embarrassing, but whatever. I find it entertaining and I think Bash feels included in what I’m doing rather than ignored.

This particular rocker has the following features:

  • The angle can be adjusted, accommodating babies and toddlers from 0 to 40 lbs. Additionally it has a little bar at the bottom to stop it from rocking so the baby can nap or a toddler can sit up without the chair moving.
  • It has a removable toy bar-I personally rarely use the bar, mainly because I put Bash in the rocker for story time or when I’m cooking/eating.
  • A vibration option-this requires A BATTERY and we have not tried it out yet. Bash is a pretty calm little dude so we haven’t needed to deploy this feature yet.
  • It’s a rocker so you can easily soothe the baby by applying slight, rhythmic pressure. If you have an active baby they can often rock themselves by wiggling in the chair!
  • There is a safety belt that goes around the waist and between the legs. I don’t feel like Bash really needs this but I always buckle him in…just in case!
  • Easy assembly with a screwdriver.

Unfortunately this rocker can’t fold up, but it is very lightweight and decently small. It fits in the front seat of our car so I bring it with me when I take the baby to visit my family. It’s nice because it gives Bash a safe place to hang out when he isn’t being held by someone. My parents’ place is definitely not baby proof. It probably wasn’t even “safe” when my sister and I were little, but at least I turned out normal 🙂

Lactation cookie date night

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At one point I thought my milk supply was dipping, so I found a recipe online for oatmeal chocolate chip coconut lactation cookies. At first I followed the recipe exactly, which was delicious by the way. When I ran out of coconut I began to make batches with chopped almonds and dried cranberries. Awesome also! Anyway well I thought they were delicious, and so did Tommy. The only time he comes out of his mancave/closet is when he hears noise in the kitchen or smells something delicious.

Well the first couple of times I made them, Tommy said, “ooo cookies” and began munching away. Tommy stopped when I told him they were lactation cookies. But really, the only semi unique ingredient is brewer’s yeast.

While delicious, it is sometimes hard to find the time to make these cookies and clean up all of the dishes after. Plus when you have other people eating them, one batch doesn’t last very long.

For whatever reason (maybe a growth spurt?) Bash was napping every two hours on the dot for about 30 minutes each time. After dinner, Tommy and I took advantage of one of these nap times to whip up a batch of cookies. Although 30 minutes may not seem like much, it was really nice to have some quality time with Tommy. It made the cooking process fun again, and it was a nice way for us to connect. Towards the end the baby started to fidget, so we were scrambling to finish up. I often dread the fidgeting, but when working on a project with Tommy it turned the whole process into a game! During the baby’s next nap, we stuffed our faces with the cookies and some cold milk.

 

Taking Sebastian to the Park

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We took Sebastian to the park for the first time. This particular park had a tiny little pond with ducks and turtles. The park is awesome for small children because:

  • They get to be outside in the sun and get some Vitamin D.
  • If they’re big enough, they can roll around in the dirt. (We didn’t do this for Sebastian yet.)
  • They get to see some animals. Ducks are especially interesting, because they swim, walk, and fly.
  • They get to see some other kids.
  • There’s no time limit, usually free parking, and enough space to bring your stroller and all the baby gear.

And potentially most importantly:

  • Mommy and Daddy have an excuse to go outside and enjoy the day also.

And one more thing: it trains your children to enjoy going to the park as a recreational activity. Living in the city, entertainment generally becomes associated with exclusive things you pay to access. It takes conscious effort to avoid “the Disease that tricks people into thinking that the expensive and exclusive options are better than free or cheap ones” (Source).

If you’re paying taxes to your city you may as well enjoy its benefits.

Thank you thumb!

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I know some people are against thumb sucking, but I really don’t care. Bash has suddenly learned how to suck his thumb, and it’s been amazing for his sleep (and mine)! He does really well with a pacifier, but as he dozes off it often falls out of his mouth, causing him to jolt awake and fuss. He is getting better about trying to hold it in with his hand, but when he loses his grip on the paci he is unable to pick it up and put it back in. I’m trying to work on this with him, but in the meantime I am all for the thumb sucking.

I want Bash to be able to self-soothe. Adults do all sorts of things to calm themselves down, some of which are destructive (like drugs, excessive alcohol, etc.). I’d rather the baby learn how to calm himself down on his own instead of relying on other people or things to do it for him. He is so young that I’m not worried about it ruining his teeth or anything like that. Most children self-wean anyway by preschool. I do make an extra effort to wash/wipe his hands after each diaper change and when we are out so that he isn’t getting extra germ exposure.

We are so lucky that Bash has been an easy baby. Once he is tired he fusses a little, sticks his thumb in his mouth, and drifts off to sleep, assuming he isn’t hungry or has a dirty diaper. My mom keeps trying to swat his hand away from his mouth. I try to tell her to let Bash suck his thumb if he wants, though she ignores me for the most part, calling it “gross”. She had her turn when I was young so now it’s my turn to make the decisions for Bash.

My typical night

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I love sleeping. Before having Bash, I would sometimes dread bedtime because it meant work was coming the following morning. Sad, I know. Well, now I just dread bedtime period. This is mainly because everyone else seems to have a bedtime except for me.

I also have a hard time relaxing enough to fall asleep. Although the baby may sleep for a 2 hour chunk, I might only get 30 minutes in. The other night, instead of browsing the web or cleaning as I usually do when I’m awake, I decided to document everyone’s sleep schedule by texting Tommy.

Here is the transcript:

[2/6/16, 10:06 PM] You slept at 945. Bash slept at 955. I’m still awake. At 10:05 you turned in your sleep. I thought you were waking up but you just started snoring instead.

[2/6/16, 10:16 PM] At 10:15 you go “huh”/moan all confused and then you turn off the lamp. The snoring starts back up again.

[2/6/16, 10:29 PM] Btw this is a reminder to call your family. It’s the weekend and Chinese New Year.

[2/7/16, 1:02 AM] I finally slept at some point.

[2/7/16, 1:03 AM] Bash interrupts my sleep at 12:58 am.

[2/7/16, 1:08 AM] You and Bash are asleep. I’m still  awake.

[2/7/16, 1:09 AM] You hogged all of the blankets to make yourself into a burrito.

[2/7/16, 1:19 AM] …you fart in your sleep

[2/7/16, 2:27 AM] I fall asleep at some point

[2/7/16, 2:28 AM] Bash wakes up at 2:25. You get up to go to the bathroom and then come back to bed and snore. I feed Bash

[2/7/16, 2:31 AM] Bash is asleep. I’m still awake.

[2/7/16, 2:42 AM] You come over to snuggle me in your sleep. Or rather you attempt to stick your hand down my pants…

[2/7/16, 3:31 AM] Bash wakes up at 3:25 for a diaper change. Now he is in our bed cuz he is wide awake

[2/7/16, 6:48 AM] Bash fell asleep at 3:38 and woke up 10 min later. I fed him some more and he fell back asleep.

[2/7/16, 6:49 AM]  I fell asleep at some point

[2/7/16, 6:50 AM] Bash woke up at 6:39. I fed him and now he is sleeping on me. You moved to the middle of the bed once it became available, though you are still asleep

Yes, I know being on a phone is supposed to keep you awake, but I’m now immune to the white noise we play for the baby. I am also sick of listening to the same music over and over. Additionally, seeing Tommy’s face as he read these text messages was rather amusing. I’ve always wanted to set up a camera in the bedroom to prove that he hogs the blankets and likes to sleep in the middle of the bed while I cling onto the sheets for dear life. Maybe that will be my next nighttime project.