The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Boy Walks

After six weeks of cruising with anything that would support him (us included) The Boy took his first nine independent steps this evening around 6:35 pm. How cool is that? Look out world, here he comes!

Can't Stop Progress

I noticed this a few months back but it didn't really register - the once veritable Brussels Chocolate factory on Terminal Ave. has closed its doors. It's true, the caramel no longer flows in East Vancouver. The factory was a landmark, in place for as long as I can remember. Designed to look like an old world factory, complete with a big smoke stack and brick facade. I wanted to take The Boy for a tour there when he got older, meet the Oompa Loompas, sample some chocolates, touch the Truffle machine. It was all planned out in my head, and it was going to be great.

It appears real world pressures forced Brussels Chocolates to move from the 'inner city' out into the outlying regions, a sign of the times I guess. Cheaper taxes? Larger facility? Who knows. All I know is that their old building is now a self-storage facility. From magical chocolate factory to a place people store their crap, another sign of the times.

Come to think of it, I've got box-loads of crap I need to store, so why not there? At least I'd be inside the building I've wanted so badly to tour. I wonder if they let you choose the location of your storage locker. "I'd like something in the Nougat Room please, and if that's full a locker near the Fudge Canal would be nice."

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's Got a Good Beat...

...and you can dance to it. I'd give it a 78

Does anyone remember Rate-A-Record? The interactive portion of American Bandstand? Am I showing my age? Am I getting confused reactions? Not surprising, usually happens whenever I wax nostalgic, mostly when I talk fondly of Jell-o 1-2-3, ah... I loved Jell-o 1-2-3. But enough about powdered desserts, this post is about music dammit.

The Boy loves to dance. Even before he could stand up, if there was a catchy tune playing, he'd sit on the floor and rock back and forth. Any beat will do, he's even danced when I've tapped my foot on the floor. He has a penchant mid-tempo songs played in a major key - the key of happiness. Songs played in a minor key - the key of woe - he can take or leave.

Here are The Boy's favourite records at the moment.

Nice People You Are - NRBQ

Likely the most influential unknown band of the past 40 years. Other musicians revere them and cover their songs. Unfortunately the listening public couldn't care less. This is their kids album.

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Nice People You Are
  • Encyclopaedia
  • Looking for the Tumbleweeds

NO! - They Might be Giants

Aren't all TMBG albums kids albums, even then they aren't intended to be?

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Where Do They Make Balloons
  • In the Middle
  • Supertaster

Johnny Cash Children's Album - Johnny Cash

Take any Johnny Cash boom-chick-a song, change the lyrics to be more kid-friendly and you've got this CD. Recorded and produced between 1971 - 1973, it contains some great songs, some mediocre songs and a few stinkers (There's a Bear in the Woods. Spoken word, The Boy does not dance). Added bonus: Carl Perkins plays guitar on this.

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Nasty Dan
  • One and One Make Two
  • Boy Named John

Shake and Push - The Morells

Upbeat, fun R&B. This used to be one of my favourite records too. Enjoying a renaissance now that I play it for The Boy.

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Getting in Shape
  • Red's
  • Growin' a Beard

Bombay The Hard Way - Various

DJ Remixes of Bollywood soundtracks. Cool, funky and has the type of groove The Boy can dance to. P and I like Bombay the Hard Way Vol. 2 better, but he seems to prefer this one.

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • The Good, The Bad And The Chutney
  • Fists of Curry
  • Ganges A Go-Go

At War With The Mystics - The Flaming Lips

One of my favourite records at the moment too, so The Boy gets to hear this one a lot. More upbeat than Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, their last release.

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Yeah Yeah Yeah song
  • Sound of Failure
  • Haven't Got a Clue

Souljacker - Eels

Much of this album seems to disturb him (minor key maybe?), but there are a few songs he likes. I like them all personally.

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Friendly Ghost
  • Fresh Feeling
  • Rotten World Blues

Abbey Road - The Beatles

Dread Pirate Robert played this for us the other day. I totally forgot about this record and embarassingly thought Here Comes The Sun was played by Terry Jacks (that's Seasons in the Sun nimrod).

The Boy's favourite tracks:
  • Maxwell's Silver Hammer
  • Octopus's Garden
  • Polythene Pam

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Spare The Rod.

Daddy Chip left me an interesting comment, "... and congratulations to Mom and Dad for surviving the first year." Out of hand the comment seems harmless, but it got me to thinking about the years ahead, and when I start thinking about what's to come, I get nostalgic for the year just past.

Right on cue with his first birthday The Boy is starting to flex his independence, which mainly manifests in the form of loudly protesting when he isn't happy with a particular situation. Most of the time he can be distracted with a new activity, but over the past couple of weeks we're getting more crying, kicking and screaming. Sometimes he sounds like a cat in heat!

Now before I end off painting The Boy as a perpetually screaming, tantrum-prone babe, he's not. He is still very easy going, it just that he's beginning to impose his will more and more. He's a baby, so this behaviour isn't totally unexpected, it's part of him becoming his own person; but that doesn't make it any more pleasant to deal with.

I remember the days when his needs were simple, and it was easy for P and me to satisfy those needs. A feeding, diaper change or activity was about all it took to keep him happy. Now we have to establish boundaries, rules and rights, and teach him about behaviour and consequence; basically we have to discipline him. By discipline I don't mean punishment for being bad, I mean teaching him what's appropriate, the rights of others, what to do and what not to do, how to share and so on.

When I think about how we've disciplined The Boy up to this point, we've already screwed him over. We're not laissez-faire but haven't really established a lot of boundaries either. Other than keeping him safe, the occasional behavioural issue (biting for example), keeping certain things out of his mouth, he pretty much has free reign over our home and his environment. To his credit there haven't been a lot of behavioural problems to deal with up to this point, but his new found independence is going to change all that.

It freaks me out, and parenting books makes it worse.
  • Too many rules will stifle his development, too few and he'll be spoiled.
  • Don't react the moment he cries or he'll do that for attention, but check to see he's not uncomfortable.
  • Too many toys and he won't appreciate them, too few and you may be slow motor skills development.
Gaaaah, I'm going to pull my hair out.

So Chip, surviving that first year was nothing. Sure it was physically demanding, but it doesn't hold a candle to the cognitive challenges that await us.


After re-reading this post it comes across like I dread each passing day during this phase of The Boy's development. No, even during this phase of "negativism" the pros easily outweight the cons. Hissy-fits aside he is pure joy to be around, a ton of fun and mostly in a good mood. I just worry we're not setting enough boundaries, or we're setting too many, and he's going to become an unbridled terror as a toddler.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I've Seen the Future...

... and I'm waiting in line.

Saturday we signed The Boy up for swimming lessons. Saturday was also the day registration opened up for all children's programs at the local community centre, so needless to say the place was packed. Parents, Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts, all waiting in line to get their children registered for something.

Thankfully they weren't all registering for Water Babies, otherwise I'd be out of luck. I thought getting up at 7:00 am was early enough, but I was way back in line by the time I arrived.

This was only the first of many things we'll likely be lining up for over the next several years. I better get used to it, and invest in a comfortable pair of shoes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Boy!

Last Sunday was The Boy's first birthday! Hard to believe just a year ago he was nothing more than a larva squirming on our laps, and now he's graduated to a full-fledged pupa. If one year flies by this quick, the next 17 are going to be a blur. That's when he emerges out of the pupa stage and flies off to university (we hope) - dammit I miss him already.

Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug. Getting The Boy ready for University. Only 17 years away.
Our expectation was to have a low-key affair to mark the occasion. A casual picnic in the park the day before with friends and family; no stress, no clean-up, no worries. For the most part the picnic was low-key, the day leading up to the picnic on the other hand... I'm surprised I'm still around to talk about it. A scant 18 hours before the picnic we realize that we've prepared nothing. No cake, no BBQ, no drinks, no appetizers, no snacks. If we want to provide our guests with anything more than a teaspoon and jar of Miracle Whip, we have a long night ahead of us.

8:00 pm - Vegetable shopping at the Farmer's Market.

9:00 pm - Back home. Unload the car. Write up a shopping list. Eat a granola bar and head to the Supermarket. I've got less than one hour before they close. P puts The Boy to bed.

10:00 pm - I'm actually quite proud of myself. I've managed to buy just about everything on the list. Staff stare at me menacingly - it's closing time and I'm still wandering the aisles.

10:10 pm - Where's the apple sauce? It's late, I have to bake a birthday cake, and you don't have apple sauce?!? Are you fucking with me? Did you hide it to get me to leave? What sort of store doesn't stock apple sauce?

10:20 pm - Out of spite I loiter around the Hot Dog buns. The staff begin switching off the lights. Another PA announcement along the lines of "Please come back tomorrow." Yeah, right.

10:35 pm - Car loaded. Shopping cart returned, I head home. I've bought a bag of apples and concede that I'm going to have to make my own apple sauce. I hate shopping at this store so very much.

11:00 pm - Cupcakes are in the oven. I start peeling and cooking the corn. P is frantically cleaning the house; the picnic may be in the park but my parents are coming to our house first.

Midnight - Birthday cake in the oven. P is icing the cupcakes while I whip up the frosting for the cake. Corn is cooling in the sink.

1:00 am - Is there a faster way to bake a cake? It's almost cool enough to put in the fridge. I've got melons to prep.

2:30 am - Done for the night. I crash into bed. I have three and a half hours before The Boy gets up.

6:30 am - P is nursing The Boy, I get up. Lots to do. Feels like someone belted me in the head with a mallet.

8:00 am - I'm at Canadian Tire buying a portable BBQ. The place is packed with early birds out for the "Door Crasher" specials. You got up early on a Saturday to buy that piece of crap? Y'know, just because it's on sale doesn't make it a bargain.

8:20 am - Standing in line fuming as people haggle over the "Limit one per customer" rule. The Boy is charming everyone around him. He's the only reason I haven't stormed out of the store already.

10:30 am - P hops in the car to go buy party favours. My parents have arrived, and not a moment too soon. They take care of The Boy while I start gathering things together and assemble the BBQ.

10:35 am - I bought the cheapest BBQ on the shelf. Parts are missing and a handle has fallen off. Too late to return it now, so I jury-rig it together. As long as it doesn't catch on fire I think we're good to go.

1:30 pm - We arrive at the park. Some people are already there. Late for our own event we rush around setting things up. The BBQ manages to hold together.

5:30 pm - The picnic was a success. After we got settled went along pretty smoothly. Lots of food, drink and merriment abound. Kids had fun, adults had fun and most importantly The Boy had fun. I'm exhausted but in reasonably good spirits.

The next three days P and I have left-over hotdogs and corn for dinner. Ugh, I still can't get the taste out of my mouth.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How Long Before Toilet Training?

The Boy turned one on Sunday (more on that in a later post) and right on schedule he is getting close to walking. He's cruising everywhere, and can more or less stand without support. While one of the a coolest milestones so far, it is not without consequence.

Like all learning walkers, he has taken his fair share of tumbles, spills and splats; he's got the bruises to prove it. The bruises I can deal with - I don't like to see The Boy hurt himself but I have to accept it's a childhood rite of passage. No I have more of a problem when he falls backwards onto his ass.

Imagine if you will, a packet of ketchup, and a hammer coming down onto that packet. The packet bursts and ketchup squirts all over the place. Now imagine a diaper full of poo, and 21 pounds of butt-cheek slamming down onto that poo. Yeah, it's got to go somewhere, and that somewhere usually means all over the inside of the diaper pants. Fortunately the diaper pants have managed to hold it all in, but I have to admit I take a quick look at his thighs every time he falls back.

What a mess. The Flushies I swore by only a few months ago aren't doing much good anymore. No every time the poo escapes diaper containment I pretty much have to stand over the toilet and scrape the diaper clean*. It's as fun as it sounds.

If there is such thing as Hell, no doubt this will be my eternal fate.

*Why do we scrape the diaper? We use cloth diapers and don't want a full-on shitty diaper festering for a week in the diaper pail. So we scrape off as much poo as we can first.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Family Returns

Today P and The Boy return home after 10 days away. Contrary to my usual MO, I didn't go on a bender with my friends and pass out on the kitchen floor. This time I was a good boy and spent most of the week working around the home.

I unpacked, painted, scrubbed, taped, painted, installed new fixtures, organized, cleaned, and almost burnt the house down. (Helpful tip for the do-it-yourselfer: If sparks come out of the electrical outlets and you succeed in blowing your main breaker, bathing your house in total darkness - you've done something wrong.)

I'm exhausted, but managed to get The Boy's room and kitchen painted, cleaned up the mouse shit the previous owner left behind (thanks!), installed new kitchen lights, moved a bed into the spare bedroom, organized the basement, and unpacked.

After doing all that I'm wondering how I'm going to keep my freshly painted kitchen walls clean. I was seriously thinking of hanging a shower curtain around The Boy's high chair somehow. Might sound far-fetched, but if you just went through what I did, you'd be thinking the same thing.

So two more rooms in the house are finished. The Boy probably won't notice, P on the other hand... I'm expecting the best "You've painted two rooms and did a whole lot of other stuff" sex I've ever had!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Living in the Suburbs Means #2...

Fat people.

I'm not talking about people who could stand to lose a couple of pounds, I'm talking unhealthy, overweight people. They're everywhere.

I have seen more ass-crack in the last couple of months than I have in the last ten years combined. Unlike our old neighbourhood there's no visible drug problem here, but there is a definite obesity problem.

As my friend Janice pointed out, "It's like you went from one crack problem to another."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

That Mohawk Looks Good On You.

I've kicked P and The Boy out of the house. Nine weeks after moving into our new home and we're still living in boxes. I just can't get anything done with The Boy running around. So yesterday I drove them to the airport and sent them packing to P's parents.

It's only a one hour flight to Prince George, but The Boy missed his morning nap, so short flight or not I was expecting a high altitude meltdown. When P to call me last night I braced myself for tears (her's). Instead it turns out he was an absolute angel. Playing peek-a-boo with the person behind, and trying to pull the hat off the guy sitting in front. "Very cute." according to P. Once again The Boy's easy-going nature surprises.

I remember telling my friend Brock how easy The Boy was. His response? "My mother said I was an easy baby too, and then became a punk rocker. I think I was a bit of a disappointment growing up." Let's see, Brock is a great songwriter and guitarist, an animator and has played music most of his life. Y'know The Boy could do a lot worse.

But this got me to thinking, what would be a disappointment to me?
  • Punk rocker? Hey kid, I've got an old leather you can wear.
  • Join a band? Let me book you a few gigs.
  • Going on tour? I'll help you get the van ready.
  • 38 years old, living in our basement playing X-Box? Well, maybe.
No becoming a music obsessed, teenage rocker would actually make me proud. On the other hand if he became the president of the Young Conservatives of Canada - that would be a disappointment. Having said that, Johnny Ramone supports George W Bush; whew never saw that coming.

Does he have to mirror my opinions in order for me to be proud of him? Of course not, he's his own person. As long as his views don't cause anyone harm, I would never chide him for having a different opinion than me. Like any parent, I think I could be disappointed and love him all the same.