Son of Byford Presents:

RaisingElle Moving…Don’t Cry…Dry Your Eyes

In Daily Operation, The Byford Files on November 5, 2011 at 6:33 am

Sometimes it’s easier to make a decision without thinking much and this one needed very little thought. Lemme put it to you this way…

Once Ellison was crawling, she was walking. Once she was walking, she was running. Once she was running, she was finding the quickest route to trouble and heading in with her forehead first. I’m writing this behind one half-empty (half-full) bottle of pale ale at 11:00pm on a Friday night which is precisely the first opportunity I’ve had to write all week. Once Ellison got up on her hind legs, the writing game changed forever.

I started in the blogging game back in over six years ago at The Root Down. It became a daily outlet for misdirected creative energy that would find light like a fart you tried your darndest to suppress. Eventually, it’s just gotta find it’s way out. That was The Root Down. It became a five year fart that ended with me attempting to countdown the greatest hip hop recordings ever. Never made it to number one on that list. Not because I didn’t know what number one was, but because my lovely wife got pregnant and we changed the format. Over the last year plus, I’ve been operating two blogs…Raising Elle, which you’re currently reading and IKnowYouGotSole which was originally intended to log my marathon training runs. Turned out that IKnowYouGotSole became The Root Down 2.0. The dual lives, however have become simply too much to handle and perform as a dad. And the last thing that I want this writing thing to be is a job or anything that resembles such. I already got a job and one that takes a ton of energy and, frankly, the last thing I wanna do at the end of a long day is to sit down and disappear into another computer at another desk instead of getting to know my sweet Ellison. Raising Elle, by it’s very design, was intended as an all-week, all-day, all-hour account of Ellison’s come-up like some sort of blogform of The Truman Show.

Ellison Jayne’s getting older and this fatherhood thing is getting better everyday…and more involved. I’m never short of material, but the “blog” format was just too long-form for a dad on the run. You need to be able to post-up in five minutes and be on your merry way. Like a good graffiti artist…do your damage, pack up, take a picture and be out before the law comes around. Blogs are great for people writing about astrology, literature, how to remove warts at home, but for a dad who only has two cups of coffee to write, the blog is way too involved. And my cups of coffee go down quick. I would consider blogs for the leisurely reader. It’s for people like the Keatons and the Seavers that go to work at like 10:00am after you get the kids to school, get a nice breakfast, maybe go to the supermarket and post office. That ain’t real life.

Real life is filled with diapers, light sockets, puking beagles, flat tires, cold coffee, crying co-workers and unresolved expense reports. The expectation that I could sit down and write 1000 words a morning is not only unrealistic, it’s downright ludicrous.

So we’re moving on. Raising Elle will still be open for business, but just no new business. Also, IKnowYouGotSole is no more. I’ve taken it down and in its place I’ve created a Tumblr site named NoSleepTillWolflin. This will be the location for all activity moving forward. Call it a “much needed, much anticipated downsizing.” The intent is to marry both the Ellison Jayne element of my waking life and, well, everything else. And a little tip for my mother and others who could care less about everything else, just save this link: http://nosleeptillwolflin.tumblr.com/tagged/Ellison_Jayne and that’ll take you directly to only the Ellison-related content.

We needed a site that was easier for quick posting. We need new posts to be somewhere between a tweet and a blog entry. We needed a site that was easier to read on mobile devices. We needed a site that was easier to post up on from mobile devices. We needed a site that had better mixed media functionality. Again, all for the dad on the go. These are things that Tumblr offers much better than WordPress. The new site, I believe, better positions us for future expansion too.

So why not RaisingElle.tumblr? What is this NoSleepTillWolflin crap? Change in direction, I suppose. I wanted to liberate the concept a little. I’ll put it this way, if you had 200 channels on your satellite offering, but I told you could you only watch the History Channel, I would imagine the amount of time you spent watching television would dramatically decrease. It’s not that don’t like the History Channel, but to be restricted to watching just one channel all of the time is ultimately going to result to less television. That’s what was happening at RaisingElle. I felt it was necessary to not deviate from one central concept. Problem was, I wasn’t always in the mood to write about Ellison. And I rarely had the time and energy to write at great length about Ellison. So, instead, I wrote less.

Well, we got our 199 other channels back now. Doesn’t mean we’ll watch all 200 channels and, trust me, we’ll still watch tons of the History Channel. And I ask you to trust me. I’ll be your guide through the entire transition. So, now, I present to you:

And, to welcome you for making the trek over, there’s an exclusive video of Ellison…and a doggy door. Enjoy.

Parental Annoyance: When Parents Talk For Their Babies

In Daily Operation on October 23, 2011 at 6:30 am

You’ve heard it, however, you might not notice it. It’s prevalent. Everywhere.

I first noticed it by watching pet owners talk for their pets and now notice that it happens with babies too. And maybe more often.

Take this example:

Acquaintance is holding her baby daughter and I approach to greet both of them. I lean in to the baby cautiously with a big smile and say, “Hey there, sweetie! You’re getting so big!” The baby scowls at me nervously. The mother then says in an attempt to be humorous, “She’s like, ‘I don’t know you so step off!’”

Wait, the baby didn’t say that. Why did the mother say that she said that. Or is the “she’s like” part her saying, “If she could speak, she would say this.” Yeah, but she can’t speak so she didn’t say that. She’s a baby. Can’t she just have a natural reaction to a stimulus without someone attempting to speak for her?

I was speaking to a friend of mine one day while Ellison made her way around the room and probably twelve to fifteen times during our conversation, as he watched Ellison wander around from corner to corner taking in the room, he broke our conversation to speak for Ellison like some outtake of Look Who’s Talking. “She’s like, ‘Hey, this is cool!’” “She’s like, ‘I love light plugs.’” She’s like, ‘Where’s daddy?’” “She’s like, ‘Man, that guy’s shoes are cool.’”

Every time I hear him do this, I felt like asking him to stop. It’s incredibly annoying. And, what’s worse, is I’ve found myself doing the same thing. I try to catch myself when I do it, but sometimes, it’s unpreventable. Maybe it’s a nervous tick. For instance, when you’re talking with someone and you run out of words, but there’s still moments left in your conversation so you just fill it up with really bad comedic material. Stupid, lazy comedic material that includes trying to speak for babies and be funny about it.

What I love about babies is that they can’t talk. Their wonderment in the world is in their eyes, their expressions. Their grunts, screams, laughs. While they can’t speak in clear sentences, they do so with every other part of their face and voice. It doesn’t have to be a running joke for parents to write the punchlines. We don’t have to play the “what if dogs could talk” game with our babies.

And now, for my mother, a photo of Ellison.

Spirited Toddler Quiz, Pt. 4

In Parental Advisory on October 20, 2011 at 6:52 am

You know, it only seems appropriate to post these after you spend a night staring at the ceiling for two hours in the middle of the night wondering why your child won’t let you sleep. Dealing with the midnight moans right now with Ellison. Girl was going last night. We went to a later sleep time in hopes to achieve one long continuous night sleep by keeping her up later. Worked a bit at first, but now she’s contracted the wakeups and then I spend two hours thinking about deadlines, the book of Daniel, retirement, Sun Ra’s impact on Funkadelic, fair trade coffee and how truly fair it is or isn’t, haboobs, Herman Cain, skiing, Theo Epstein (just a for a few seconds) and when I’m due for an oil change among other things. Not me but the Subaru.

Wake up three hours later with a crick in my neck and a nice dark cup of coffee and an Osibisa record. Gonna need it today.

Today’s topic is “perceptiveness.” Writes our author:

Perceptive kids notice the four-leaf clover in the grass; the color, make and model of the car that just passed; the Christmas tree hung on the construction crane; and the ant crawling on the window glass. It seems as though perceptive individuals have antennas out, picking up all of the extraneous information and stimulation around them. As a result it can be very challenging for them to sort out the most important information or to remain focused on their original goal.

Again, we’re going to attempt to objectively assess Ellison’s perceptiveness even though, as a 13-month old, she’s still developing many of these traits literally as we sleep. But in our pursuit for the truth of Ellison’s spirited nature, let’s proceed as best we can. Let’s go to the workbook.

Let’s start at the top: “stays on task and isn’t watching the birds outside of the window” or “notices things most people miss” as being the most perceptive. I’m going to score her a 2 outta 5 on this one. She generally gets locked into something and sticks with it. Now, where I struggle answering this is that it’s sometimes difficult to direct her to do something like, say, stay still for photos because she keeps walking off, but in that case, I see myself as the distraction to her intention which is to stand up, notice where she wants to go and then proceed to walk there. Might not be the task that I want her to stick to, but when she’s destined to go there, she’ll throw up a stiff arm like Heisman to get there. Birds? What birds? The bird would have to knock her over for her to notice it.

How about noticing rainbows in oil spills? I’d say no, although, we haven’t seen many oil spills around town. I will say this, though, last night we went to the park and around the park there were small plastic bottle caps on the ground. Some would be partially buried and others would be hidden amongst some grass. She’d lock in on one from about five or ten feet away and would dig it up using her small little fingers. She’d pick them up, hand them to us and then keep moving. I know it’s not the same as watching rainbows in oil spills, but she sometimes notices stuff that I’d just walk right by. Most of the time, it ends up in her mouth, but that’s just life with a toddler, right? I’m giving her 3 outta 5 here.

Lastly, Ellison’s abilities to follow multiple directions. This one’s tricky. One day, I spent five hours trying to teach her how to change out the bag on a vacuum to no success. Two days ago, I tried to teach her how to simply change the batteries out on her crib aquarium so that she could do it herself. Her look of both amazement and confusion made me realize that she’s not too good at following directions. Only “NO” at this point. She has competency to follow directions of a baby chimp or caveman. “Oven hot!” That’s because she’s only 13 months old. We’re gonna go ahead and defer on this one. Too early to tell here.

So, scoring 5 outta 10 or, to scale, 2.5 out of a possible 5 on perceptiveness. That brings our total score now to 2.91 outta 5 on the SPIRITED SCALE, slightly down from last time where she was at 3.05.

You’ll notice my posts have become even more sporadic and random. That’s life with a toddler. You can’t just lock her in a closet anymore (that’s a joke…a bad one, mind you). I’m working on the top ten realities of life with a toddler maybe for this weekend. One thing’s true though, once she hit her feet, the entire world changed.

And, if Ellison’s not the best dressed girl on the block thanks to Mommy who has an incredible fashion sense.

And like I need a mirror to better accentuate my forehead wrinkles, how about this photo from a couple of weeks ago.Coming soon: Life with a Toddler: The New Norm, Highway to Elle: Traveling with our Baby, and Who Needs Sleep?

 

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