b Papa Dog's Blog: April 2006

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Things We Did this Morning

Baby Dog didn’t wake up until just before eight this morning, which was nice, but the sleep-in value was greatly diluted by the fact that the dog woke us up roughly once an hour all night long. Evidently he had the Trotskies, because there weren’t any possum corpses in the yard this morning. I was able to go right back to sleep after every interruption, but I don’t think Mama Dog fared as well. I got Baby Dog up – she greeted me by my first name as I walked into her room – and gave her breakfast while Mama Dog grabbed an extra little increment of sleep.

We did a pretty thorough morning at Tilden Park. Took another ride on the steam train, then went to the Little Farm for the first time in a while. It was sheep shearing day, which was novel. Baby Dog got to see one of the sheep getting shorn. “Baa baa black sheep,” she observed, accurately in all particulars. “Black sheep’s getting a hair cut,” I told her. “He doesn’t like it much. That’s why he’s saying ‘baa baa.’”

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I Wrote a Good Long Post Last Night, So Sue Me if I Pass the Buck Tonight

Mama Dog’s light hearted afternoon shopping jaunt had an unfortunate culmination, ending with Baby Dog getting a fascinating first look at a tow truck in action. You can read the whole story here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Elaborate Bedtime Routine as of 4/06

They say babies like their routines – that doing the same stuff the same way at the same time every night is a comfort thing, a means of exerting a little control over an environment that is otherwise beyond their power to control. Either that’s extra true in Baby Dog’s case or she’s inherited some of the old man’s compulsive tendencies. We’ve long had our bedtime routines, but I’ve been noticing lately that the routines are accumulating like barnacles. We add new wrinkles, but none of the old ones ever get ironed out.

The basic bedtime routine for a long time has been: 1) bath time; 2) stories with Mummy; 3) night-night songs with Daddy, then into the sleep sack and a short period of chattering in the crib before sleep. The concert repertoire has evolved over the months. Right now, the stand-byes are “Whistling Gypsy,” which we sing in a duet, and “Thunder Road,” which I do solo pausing occasionally for Baby Dog to fill in blanks. (Daddy: “Roy Orbison singin’ ‘For the Lonely’/Hey, that’s me and I want you…” Baby Dog: “Only!”) At some point, and I’m not sure when, the routine grew to encompass a post-singing ritual that we call “Our Tour,” or sometimes “Touching Things.” I pick Baby Dog up and we circumambulate her room. She has a number of pictures on her walls and on her dresser, and Baby Dog touches them each in turn, calling out their names. This started out with her wanting to touch the piggy drawing or the bunny rabbit drawing; every time I’d set her down she’d remember a different picture she could touch. I decided that if we just went around and touched all of them there would be a greater sense of closure and she wouldn’t have an excuse to get back up at the end. It’s worked like a charm, though of course the route of The Tour has grown to include more and more stops as time has gone by. Here’s the path as it stands now (the script varies only at a geologic pace):

First we go to the Iwao Akiyama print (not this one, but it’s representative) of the owl and the moon that hangs above the changing pad. First Baby Dog touches the owl and says “Owl” while I say “Hoo! Hoo!” Then she touches the moon and says “Moon!” while I remain silent. Then we go over by the garbage can where Mama Dog’s crayon portrait of Peter Rabbit eating a carrot is hung low, where Baby Dog can touch it as she toddles about the room. “Who’s down here?” I ask. “Rabbit!” Baby Dog exclaims, as I make rabbit noises. Then she touches the carrot and says “Carrot!” Next to that is a picture of Mama Dog with a background photoshopped by her father. “Who’s up here?” I ask. Baby Dog touches the picture, for some reason always hitting just to the left of Mama Dog’s face, and says, “Mummy!” “What does Mummy say?” I ask. “I love you Baby Dog!” Baby Dog exclaims. Then we go over to the armoire, where just in the last few days I’ve started saying, “I guess we should touch the doggies.” The “doggies” in fact are just random burls in the wood of the armoire, but when she was much smaller, first learning to talk, Baby Dog apparently decided they looked like dog faces and started calling them that. So she touches the doggies and I say “Woof woof.” Then I hoist her up so that she can reach the Crate and Barrel box that sits on top of the armoire. “What’s up here?” I ask. She stabs a finger on the capital C and exclaims “C!” Then for some reason she goes all the way to the end of the word and touches the little e, exclaiming “e!” From there, she works her way backwards: “t! a! r!” You’ll have to ask her why she does it that way, but she always does. Then we go around the corner of the armoire to the other side of the box, and I saw, “And what’s around here?” Baby Dog continues, at this point always unfailingly in the correct order: “Ampersand!” (Yes, she actually says “ampersand.”) “B! a! r! r! e! l!” Then we exclaim together “Crate and Barrel!” From there, we go to the cow calendar that hangs over her dresser, and she touches the current month’s cow. “Who’s up there?” I ask. “Cow!” she replies, and I add the colour commentary: “Moo!” Then we crouch down by the side of the dresser where there are two more Mama Dog portraits: a pig on top and an itsy bitsy spider on bottom. “Who’s down here?” I ask. “Piggie!” “Oink oink, snort, snort,” I add. I drop her down a little. “Who’s down here?” For some reason, Baby Dog makes an unintelligible reply each and every time, and I have to say “Who’s down there?” again before she clearly says “Spider!” and I can add “Itsy bitsy!” At this point, we’re in the home stretch. We go to the foot of the crib, where a card with a picture of a pinecone hangs. “What’s over here?” I ask. She touches the card and says, “Pinecone!” At that point, I swoop her onto her back for descent into the crib and bundling into the sleep sack. As I do so, we have a final jubilant chorus which has evolved into four lines that we trade off on kind of randomly. They are: “We touched everything!” “We’re good everything touchers!” “Yay us!” “Yay Baby Dog and Daddy!”

Now, you’d think that would be more than enough routine to satisfy a troupe of rain men, but like I say we keep accumulating new action items. The last few nights have apparently cemented in Baby Dog’s mind the need for a musical encore to come down from the frenzied climax of the picture-touching tour. The funny thing is, the song she always wants is about as unlikely a baby-quieter as you’ll find, but it always works to bring her down. Every night at this point, she asks me to sing her “BINGO.” The one about the dog, with the clapping. This is supposed to be a rousing audience participation song, but for some reason it sends Baby Dog quietly to bed, even after she’s clapped my hands for me through the entire song. I don’t even know where she learned the damn song. Daycare, I suppose. It’s been so long since I’ve heard it performed I can never remember if I’m supposed to be dropping letters off at the start or the end of the song, and I find myself switching it around from verse to verse. I haven’t done clap-I-N-G-clap yet, but it’s been close.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Time for Another Rerun

I still don’t feel up to blogging, so why don’t we dip back into the Papa Dog archives and see what I said my top five movies were exactly one and one half years ago. I don’t believe the list has changed much since then, though I might substitute Rear Window for Northmeal West if I were to bestir myself to write a new list tonight.

Damn, and The Godfather’s not on that list. Neither is Chinatown. Well, don’t get me started.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Elephant in the Room? What Elephant in the Room?

Some of you know what’s been going on here the last couple of days. I’m not going to blog about it, and please don’t anybody post any comments about it, but thanks to all who’ve called or written or stopped by. Things are okay and otherwise the same as ever here. We watched half a movie tonight, Doggy Dog got his regular walks, and Baby Dog went down to sleep without a fuss for the first time in a week. I’ve tried out a new ice cream flavour – Häagen-Dazs caramel cone. And lo, the planet turns.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Stupid Nasal Passages

They’re, like, all constricted, but there’s nothing in them to blow. This is the worst part of the cold cycle.

Monday, April 24, 2006

My Nose Is Stuffed Up, My Throat is Scratchy, and My Head Hurts Just a Teeny Bit

Mama Dog complains that when I do these little keep-the-streak-alive posts they aren’t, well, interesting. I say, sue me. She’s the one who gave me the damn cold in the first place.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Has Been, You’ve Been, We’ve All Been a Has Been

The other day, I finally listened to the first couple of tracks of that new William Shatner album. It’s weirdly awesome (as in “inspiring awe or admiration or wonder” — mostly wonder).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Choo Choo

When ducks were the thing, we showed Baby Dog a bird sanctuary. When pigs and cows ruled, we took her to The Little Farm. Now the obsession is trains, thanks to the oeuvre of Donald Crews (Freight Train and its sequel, Inside Freight Train), and The Little Engine That Could as interpreted by Watty Piper. She also is quite familiar with Burl Ives’ take on that same story, which is on Baby Dog’s Napster play list. Thanks to the Crews books, she knows more about trains than either of her parents do. The bar’s not really very high there, but still. She can correctly distinguish by silhouette the shape of a hopper car vs. a tank car, and knows that the tender carries the coal that powers the engine. She knows what a trestle is. She knows that the sounds “choo choo,” “puff puff,” “toot toot” and “ding dong” are all involved with such enterprises, and judicious use of these sounds can even be used to entice her to eat her broccoli. All that being the case, we’ve felt we were long overdue for a ride on Tilden Park’s steam train, and today we finally went.

The Tilden Park trains are wonderfully authentic scale models of genuine steam engines. Baby Dog was immediately thrilled to hear the “ooooo-oooooooo” sound of the steam whistle as we pulled into the parking lot. I oooooed along with it, making her grin hugely. We arrived just as the train was pulling into the depot. It only takes fifteen minutes for the train to make its circuit, but still we hurried to buy tickets so as not to wait for the next run. Mama Dog, Baby Dog and I all bundled into one car. They’re flat little open-air things, kind of like the carts you see in old movies set in coal mines. I asked Baby Dog if she knew where the tracks were, and she pointed to the adjacent set. All the way through our trip through the park we were able to point out things she had seen in her books: trestles, tunnels, water towers, and of course the steam engine itself. Every time it oooooed, she would beam and laugh. Going through the tunnel seemed to be a bit worrisome to her, but the passage was brief and she didn’t seem to mind it as much the second time.

I’m sure this is an outing she’ll be talking about for some time to come. And we bought six tickets, so I imagine we’ll be going back again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

You Bet Your Bippy

I’ve been running on short sleep all week and have a busy weekend ahead of me. Right now is my chance to finally get a bit of rest, so I’m going to call it a week and say goodnight now. “Goodnight now.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Training Day

Got sent by the job today to take InDesign training today. I resisted as much as I could, because my experience of software training has always been that it’s a waste of time and money. Why pay hundreds of dollars and keep me from doing my work for a day when I could get the same benefit out of half and hour looking at the manual? Worse, they scheduled the thing to start at 8 a.m. one BART stop past the place I can never make it to by 9. To be there on time, I’d have to leave the house at 7:15, which has been laughably impossible for a long long time. The only way to manage it was to tell Mama Dog that she was on her own this morning. I literally wouldn’t have a second to spare to help with Baby Dog – not time to change a single diaper nor spoon a single bit of kiwi into her mouth.

The way things worked out, Baby Dog didn’t even wake up until I was about to leave. I was afraid I’d miss her entirely, but fortunately she roused herself with five minutes to spare. I was out the door a minute late, at 7:16, and somehow caught the train before the one I was after. It was good I managed that, because the train I did catch ran slow, depositing me at Montgomery BART at 7:55. I hurried the two blocks to the training centre, and made it at 8:01. Only one other person from my office made it earlier, so I was good.

I was delighted to find the training nowhere near the pointless slog I’d expected. I could have gotten all the same information out of half an hour with the manual, yeah, but things have moved along a bit since the last time I took software training (in 1989, to learn WordPerfect). For one thing, the training terminal has an Internet connection and nobody cared if I kept flipping back to IE to check my email. I managed to transact way more personal business during the course of the day than I could have in my own office. I’d have to count the day a waste of the company’s money, but I take back what I said about it being a waste of my time. I didn’t get asked a single idiotic question all day long, I never had to smell C the MH’s noxious perfume, I didn’t once have to hear WGP’s braying and meaningless greeting of “Okaaaay?” and in the end I made it home about an hour earlier than normal. All in all, it was a bit of a holiday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Parents and Children in Movies

Right on the heels of watching Decline of the American Empire, we watched The Barbarian Invasions. What a beautiful goddamn movie. The first one was really good, but too dispassionately analytical. The sequel is the most genuinely moving film I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. Last night after watching the first half, Mama Dog and I were talking about how a movie like this seems a lot different to us now that it would have before we were parents. The parent-child issues don’t have quite the same immediacy when you’ve only lived one side of that equation. I thought The Sweet Hereafter was a sad and beautiful movie eight years ago, but I think it would rip my guts out if I saw it today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wednesdays: Now With 3,000% Less Fun!

Back to full time at the dirt farm as of this week. Tomorrow will be my first Wednesday in a long time not spent at home with Baby Dog. It makes our financial picture rosier, but I’m going to miss my girl.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Baby Dog’s First Visit from the Easter Rabbit. Not.

It’s been a while since I had to think about these Christian/capitalist holidays, but if I remember correctly, the one this past weekend has something to do with a rabbit nailing Jesus to a chocolate cross. Or was it a duck? Anyway, Mama Dog has fond memories of waking up on Easter Sunday to find a basket of goodies left behind by the Jesus Rodent. She wanted Baby Dog to have similar memories in her dotage, so we resolved to put together a splendid basket for Baby Dog’s First Easter When She Has a Vague Idea What’s Going On. The daycare helped give us a leg up; they sent all the children home with little Easter baskets on Thursday. It contained little plastic eggs filled with candy that we wouldn’t dream of feeding our child but would be happy to consume ourselves. Mama Dog reckoned we could fill the eggs up with stuff we would let Baby Dog have, top the thing off with relevant stuffed animals she already owns – Bunny Rabbit and Ducky, e.g. – and call that an Easter basket. Yes, I know, it sounded as lame and half-assed to us as it does to you, but the girl’s not even two yet. She would have thought the basket in and of itself was something new and enthralling.

Yes, note the conditional there. “Would have.” We managed to be even lamer and even less fully assed.

Saturday night, Mama Dog said to me, “Remind me to put together a basket before Baby Dog wakes up in the morning.” “Okay,” I said in that way I do, “remember to put together a basket before Baby Dog wakes up in the morning.” We said ha ha and then watched the rest of The Decline of the American Empire. When we were done it was past our bedtimes and neither of us felt like doing any work. “What about the basket?” I asked. “I’ll do it in the morning before she wakes up,” Mama Dog said. We slunk off to bed.

That was the night that Baby Dog’s cough erupted and kept us awake from three a.m. on. Ironically, the one whose sleep was least affected turned out to be Baby Dog. She was up and raring to go at six. As you may recall, Halmonie came over and let us sleep in. When we dragged our bums out of bed at nine, Baby Dog was already three hours into Easter Sunday with no bunny basket in sight.

Moving at the speed of rationalisation, we agreed that she doesn’t really have a clue about Easter this year and that next year’s going to be the first one she’ll have any memory of. Stay tuned this winter to see how badly we botch Christmas.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Rough Night

Last night was a rough one. Baby Dog has had a sniffle and a cough the last few days. Because it wasn’t too bad and because of one logistical thing or another, we never got around to replenishing the supply of Baby Tylenol that she used up during her last bout of croup. At three in the morning, we discovered the error of our ways. Her cough kept waking her up, and then she kept waking us up. Mama Dog didn’t sleep at all between threeish and fivish. I took the fivish to sevenish shift. Then Mama Dog called Halmonie to come over and save the day. We were then able to sleep in until ninish and somewhat recoup our sleep deficit.

First order of business this morning: off to the drug store for Baby Tylenol.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Whistling Gypsy

I find myself once again too tired to gather any thoughts of my own to post, so tonight’s entertainment will consist of the lyrics of Baby Dog’s new favourite song, The Whistling Gypsy, as performed by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. She requests it at bedtime and mealtime, and we hear her singing the chorus herself at odd moments. It goes a little something like this:

The gypsy rover came over the hill
Down through the valley so shady
He whistled and he sang ‘til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

Adi-doo, adi-doo da day
Adi-doo, adi-day dee
He whistled and he sang ‘til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

She left her father’s castle gate
She left her own fond lover
She left her servants and estate
To follow the gypsy rover


Her father saddled up his fastest steed
Roamed the valleys all over
Sought his daughter at great speed
And the whistling gypsy rover


He came at last to a mansion fine
Down by the river Clady
And there was music and there was wine
For the gypsy and his lady


“He is no gypsy, my father” she said
“But lord of these lands all over
And I will stay ‘til my dying day
With my whistling gypsy rover”

(Chorus Twice)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Grandpa Pays a Visit

A little girl with the unlikely name of Grandpa* was over to the house tonight. Grandpa is about seven years old, slightly older than my marriage to Mama Dog. This was her first visit back to the Bay Area since her first year of life, so I suppose it was all new to her. When I got home from work, I was very surprised to see Baby Dog and Grandpa sitting side by side in the living room, each reading one of Baby Dog’s books. Last time we had a small visitor – Baby Pirate – there was crying and tantruming when the books were touched. We had resigned ourselves to the idea that Baby Dog was going to be fiercely possessive of her books for some time to come. Apparently, this does not extend to bigger children. Baby Dog seemed very happy to interact with Grandpa, and did not begrudge her the use of any of her toys. It was quite remarkable.
*So unlikely that it's not really her name. But it kind of is.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I’m So Bleary-Eyed with Fatigue I Could Swear the Last Post Was About Hockeyball

Really sorry to do this again, but I’m going to have to call it a night without writing a proper post. I can’t remember the last time I did one, though I suppose I’d see it if I scrolled down. I’ll try to turn over another new leaf soon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sudden Death

[Today's is a guest post by paul Anonymous]

We ended the season in fourth place, so in the first round of the playoffs we would be taking on the third place team. It was a best of two series. If one team won both games, or won one and tied one, then they would win the series. However, if each team won a game, then it would go into overtime, and whoever scored would win the series.

We lost the first game 3-0, so it was do or die for us.

There was only one ref to start the game. On the first shift the other team was way offside, but the referee didn't call it, and they went on to score. They got two more quick goals, and we were down 3-0 midway through the first period. Things weren't looking good.

We finally scored near the end of the period. We got our second goal with 5 seconds left in the second period.

In the third period we got two goals, and suddenly we were in the lead. The other team was getting frustrated, and they started playing dirty. Amazingly, the refs started calling penalties. So for the last two minutes of the game we had a two man advantage. But we got sloppy, and let one of their guys walk in on our goal. He scored just as the buzzer went. The ref ruled it went in after the buzzer, so it was no goal.

So it now went in to sudden death overtime. The other team was still playing dirty, but the refs were calling it, so we had a two man advantage. We were buzzing all around their goal, but we couldn't put the puck in the net. The overtime period ended scoreless.

Now it came down to a shoot out. Three shots for each team. Whichever team got the most goals won. The goofy thing was that both teams shot at the same time, so you'd be looking back and forth, trying to decide if you should be watching to see if your guy scored, or if your goalie stopped their guy.

The first shooters on each team went, and both missed. The second shooters went. They missed. The third shooters went. Our guy missed, but their guy scored. It was a hell of a way to lose the series.

After that we went to the bar and commiserated.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Favourite Cute Anthropomorphic Dirty Joke

I have absolutely nothing on my mind tonight and tomorrow paul is threatening to blog about some hockeyball thing, so I’m going to take pre-emptive action and tell a cute dirty joke today.

So this penguin’s taking a vacation in the American southwest, driving through Arizona and New Mexico, investigating the exotic arid climes. A couple miles outside Bisbee, his engine starts to make some alarming hiccoughing sounds, so he pulls off the Interstate and looks for a garage. Because the penguin’s stranded, the mechanic agrees to take a look at the car just as soon as he finished up the job he’s on, but it’ll still take an hour or two. He suggests that the penguin take a look around scenic downtown Bisbee and come back in two hours. With nothing better to do, the penguin agrees and toddles off to investigate the pottery and Navajo blankets.

Hailing as he does from a chillier land, the penguin is soon overwhelmed by the desert heat. He spies an ice cream parlour and stops in for a refreshing cold treat. Soon he is comfortably seated on a sidewalk table under a big umbrella, enjoying a large cup of vanilla ice cream.

The problem at this point, of course, is that penguins have flippers rather than arms. He’s learned to steer his car by pressing his flippers firmly against the wheel, but he’s never really got the hang of using a spoon. After a few embarrassing mishaps, he finally casts decorum aside and plunges his face into the cup, lapping up the ice cream. When he’s done, there’s vanilla smeared all over his face, but he’s cooler and considerably happier. He sees that it’s almost time for his car to be ready, so he takes an ineffectual dab at his face with a napkin and toddles back to the mechanic, vanilla dripping from his jowls.

When he gets to the garage, the mechanic looks at him and says, “Well, it looks like you’ve blown a seal.”

“Oh, no,” says the penguin, “that’s ice cream.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Sort of Thing I’m Liable to Notice on a Dog Walk During Daylight Savings Time

Tonight, for a very brief time before twilight, the sky was Simpsons blue and the clouds were Simpsons white. Then it was night.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I Knew This Night Would Come

It’s only fairly recently that I’ve added my repertoire of night-night songs to Baby Dog’s Napster playlist, and they’ve quickly attained “most requested” status. That in itself is not unusual – any new addition, be it to playlist or bookshelf, is subjected to repeat scrutiny until she has its measure. But she has seemed to be paying particular attention to the Clancy Brothers’ live version of The Parting Glass and to the John Prine trilogy: Donald and Lydia, Souvenirs, and The Torch Singer.

More and more at bedtime Baby Dog will make a request of something that’s on her Napster playlist. The ABC song, say, or Itsy Bitsy Spider. I’ll gamely give it a go if I know the words, and she’s usually satisfied. Sometimes, she’ll clarify her request: “Itsy Bitsy? On the computer?” I tell her that the computer’s off and she has to satisfy herself with Daddy’s crappy voice, and she usually seems content with that. Sometimes she keeps after the idea, but I’ve generally taken that as a ploy to put off bedtime for a little bit. It never worked, but she seemed keen to keep trying until it did.

Tonight, when I asked Baby Dog what night-night song she wanted to hear, she made no reply. Every night for months she’s had some specific request. Not tonight. “How about Donald and Lydia?” I asked. We hadn’t sung that in a while, and we were running early for once. A longish song seemed in order. “On the computer?” she asked. “No,” I said, “the computer’s off. Daddy will sing Donald and Lydia.” “On the computer?” she persisted. “No, honey, computer’s off. We’re just going to sing night-night songs together, okay?” She didn’t say no, so I started singing the song.

Almost immediately, Baby Dog started to chatter about her piggy. This is not unusual, so I soldiered on, singing about the fat lonely girl behind the counter at the penny arcade. Baby Dog observed that the piggy sat in the mud and that it ate celery. I sang on. Midway through the first chorus, Baby Dog said: “Turn it off.” I stopped, unsure what she meant. “Turn what off?” I asked. She thought intently for a moment, trying to form the words. Then she said: “Turn off Donald and Lydia?”

So there it is. I am forced to recognise that my little girl is now musically sophisticated enough to know that next to John Prine (or any other professional musician, including possibly even William Hung), Daddy’s singing is crap. Bittersweet, yes. She’s growing up, and that’s good; but in some areas she’s going to want better than I have to give.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Another working day off. I’ll have to catch up with you later.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Shook Up

I thought paul was going to guest blog tonight, but I guess not. We went out and saw Earthquake in sort-of Sensurround. It wasn’t any better than it was in 1974, but it was even louder.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Start ‘Ginning

The title phrase was once viewed hereabouts as a small piece of adorableness. Baby Dog would employ it to indicate that she wanted to hear a given book in its entirety (as though we ever read them any other way), starting at the beginning. She would scramble over with, say, The Very Busy Spider in hand, and say, “Verybusyspider! Start ‘ginning?”

Later, she found applications for the phrase in the music world. She would ask to hear, say, Badlands. By the time I had the song up on the Napster, she’d be chattering about something else, and would be so absorbed in some new entertainment that she’d fail to hear the start of the song. Suddenly she would notice that it had been playing for a while. “Start ‘ginning?” she would ask, whereupon I would be expected to restart the track.

At bedtime, “Start ‘ginning” has gained currency as a rather transparent ploy to prolong the time before sleep. “Starry Starry Night?” she might request. I begin to sing; she begins to chatter about the pig in the mud or the frog jumping the fence. Halfway through the first verse, she says, “Start ‘ginning?” At first, I thought this was the same situation as with Napster – that Baby Dog just hadn’t been listening and wanted to hear the part she missed. But when she trots out “Start ‘ginning?” three times before a verse is finished, I must admit she’s playing me. “Daddy can’t keep starting at the beginning, honey,” I say, and soldier on.

Lately, the phrase has become a weapon in the just-starting Terrible Twos campaign. It is being applied indiscriminately and confusingly to any situation that fails to meet Baby Dog’s exacting standards. This morning, we were playing a game involving Baby-Dog-ups (that’s where I lie down on the floor and bench press her ten times), “Whoa!” (that’s where I sit on the couch, set her on my lap facing me, then dip her back and upside down until her head almost touches the floor, exclaiming “Whoooooooaaa!”) and bounces (that’s where I bounce her up and down on the couch, saying “Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!”). We did two sets of Baby-Dog-ups, a few run-throughs of “Whoa,” and were on to the bounces, when she exclaimed “Start ‘ginning?” Assuming she meant to go back to the beginning of the game, which was the Baby-Dog-ups, I started doing that, and she burst into tears, howling “Start ‘ginning!” I know that it’s futile trying to reason at this point, but I tried anyway…“Start at the beginning of what, honey? Daddy doesn’t know what you want?” This only increased the volume and the tears. Luckily it was breakfast time just then, so there was a ready distraction before it became a total meltdown.

At bedtime, “this little piggy” was marred by a similar “Start ‘ginning” incident, which no amount of rocking and singing could quite cure. Little bursts of tantrum continued throughout song time and point at stuff on the wall time. When Baby Dog was tucked away in her sleep sack, I was at last able to soothe her happily to bed by making pretend burp noises at her. To ward off a bedtime tantrum, sometimes a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do.

I know Baby Dog is (a) just trying to exert a little control over her environment and (b) frustrated because, advanced as she is, her ability to communicate still lags behind her desire. But gosh golly it sure will be good when she can reliably find the words for what ails her.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Baby Dog’s a bit sniffly, but the fever seems to be down. Mama Dog and I both had big headaches tonight, though, so I fear we’ve caught whatever the little girl had. Business continues.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm a Cheap Bastard

[Today's is a guest post by Mama Dog.]

Baby Dog has fallen ill again this week, poor little girl. I dropped her off at daycare yesterday as usual, then got the call at around noon saying that Baby Dog had a fever of almost 103 and would I please pick her up immediately? (There's a zero tolerance for fever at our daycare, as there is at most others.) Luckily, Halmonie lives nearby so I gave her a call and asked her to pick up the girl and take her home. Halmonie obliged willingly, of course.

Today, Baby Dog stayed home with Halmonie all day, as she was still feeling feverish. There's a 24 hr. quarantine rule at the daycare, anyway, so we didn't have a choice.

Tomorrow is Papa Dog's last Wednesday off until he goes back to working full-time, so the plan was for him to spend one last day with Baby Dog. She will be home tomorrow.

By Thursday, I'm hoping that Baby Dog will be up and running and ready to go to daycare.

Just now, as I was staring blankly at the refrigerator, wracking my brain for a blog post topic, I noticed the daycare holiday closing schedule posted thereon. It read: April 7, 2006: Friday (Good Friday). Therefore, if Baby Dog goes in on Thursday, she'll only have attended about 12 hrs of daycare this week, for the price of 40 hours. I haven't the energy to do math at the moment, but if I did, I believe the hourly rate would fall somewhere between highway robbery and "hell of" expensive.

Here's why I'm cheap: I'm thinking, since Friday's a holiday, perhaps we should send Baby Dog to daycare tomorrow (on her planned day off with Papa Dog) -- just so we get closer to our money's worth. It just kills me to pay a full week's tuition for a day and a half.

Let me reassure you that I'm not that heartless and pragmatic. Ultimately, we'll do what's best for Baby Dog and we'll do what will make her happiest. If she's feeling the slightest bit under the weather tomorrow, she's staying home. If Papa Dog really wants to spend his last stay-at-home-dad-day with Baby Dog, then she'll stay home. It's only money, after all.

Monday, April 03, 2006

First Thoroughly Lame Post in a While

Long and involved day today, and now I’m too tired to do the paying work I have to do, let along blogging. This whole week’s going to be more of the same. Do I have a volunteer for guest blogger duty?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Baby Dog’s World is Growing

This weekend’s new thing: Baby Dog has been singing songs we didn’t teach her. Some are songs we can recognise (the Anglo version of Frère Jacques) and some are ones we just can’t plain figure out. There was something about Kelsey Kitten, but I can’t remember if that was a song or prose. Whatever. These are all presumably things she’s learned in daycare. Her knowledge base is definitely expanding outside of this house.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Baby Pirate is Two!

It was – no joke – Baby Pirate’s second birthday today. The party was at Habitot and the guest list, naturally enough, consisted of families with small children. The Funkadelics came, as did Mama and Baby Whippet (Papa Whippet having had some class or other to attend). In a way, it was a new thing for us. This was the first time we’d brought Baby Dog to Habitot since she learned to walk, and it made for a markedly different experience. She still spent most of her time in the Littlest Kids’ area, but she toddled fully around the room, exploring and playing, rather than plopping down in one spot and waiting for toys to be handed to her. She also had much fun in the water play area, splashing and rummaging around for fish toys. She went into the walk-in spaceship for the first time, and when she saw the mural of the solar system, she ran quick-walked straight to the ringed planet, exclaiming, “Jupiter!” For that last she can thank…uh, I guess he’d be Uncle Dog…who dug up an oversized Solar System book at a yard sale someplace and gave it to Baby Dog for Christmas. She has since pored over that book so many times that she’s learned the names of all the planets, though of course Saturn is the only one she can easily recognise in different contexts. (She can also identify Valentina Tereshkova, but only by the picture in the book.)

Lunch afterwards was at Cancun Taqueria, where Baby Dog sat for the first time in a booster seat rather than a high chair. All told we had about three hours in the midst of various dense crushes of humanity with much noise and activity and yelling children and high-calorie food. All four babies were quite primed for long naps by the time we were done. Happy birthday to Baby Pirate and I’m now ready for some sleep myself.