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Monday, August 31st
The Pause.  Every parent knows "The Pause."  It's part of a four step process associated with boo boo's and probably nature's subtle way of notifying parents how bad a boo boo is going to be.  In general, the longer The Pause, the worse the boo boo'll be.  Here's how it works: 

Step One: you hear the crash, bonk or kerplunk that caused the boo boo. 
Step Two: comes the initial scream or wail. 
Step Three: comes The Pause or silence.  Sometimes you hear inhaling or panicked gasping, but the longer The Pause, the more you should worry.  The Pause is usually associated with the child catching his or her breath and deciding just how badly he or she needs to scream during Step Four.
Step Four: the Full Wail.  The child has had time to fully inventory him or herself and decide whether this should be category-1 or -5 level drama. 

The Pause is actually quite helpful.  Compared to screaming or crying, The Pause is not something kids tend to fake.  It gives you the best sense of what's really going on and how quickly you need to run up the stairs to your kid's side.  We've never been the type of parents that freak out over every trip, fall, bump and bruise, so The Pause is actually a good indicator of those times when you really do need to jump up and react.

This afternoon Caden was jumping on the bed (and fell off and bumped his head).  The Pause was one of the longest ever.  Uh oh... and for good reason.  By the time I got to him, he had one respectable welt on his forehead.  After a few minutes of category-4 level crying, he was finally consoled by the offer of a kiss-to-make-it-better and watching Barney.  He actually held the ice pack on his head all by himself this time.  Becoming a true warrior.




Friday, August 28th
A friend of ours is planning to walk in the three day fundraiser walk for breast cancer later this year.  I've heard awesome things about this fundraiser from several other friends who've participated in past years.  Breast cancer is a horrible disease.  We have a close friend who is very ill and I pray that she and her family find the strength and peace to overcome the incredible challenge they're facing.

In the spirit of showing support (and raising a few bucks), I bought us t-shirts to show our encouragement.  If you've got a few extra bucks that you can throw at the effort, please consider plunking it down on my friend's team in preparation for their walk this November.  If you want one of the shirts, you can find them here.



Tuesday, August 25th
Skunk: 1 ... Possum: 0 ... Dave: 0

There's a feral cat that's been showing up on our doorstep like clockwork for almost five years to be fed, to which we've happily obliged.  Every blue moon or so, a raccoon or a possum shows up to steal some of his food.  Last night, well ... was a little more of a shock.  Standing there on the front porch, eating cat food, was a stinky, awful skunk.  Craaaap.

We pounded on the window just enough to get it to scurry off into the bushes. And not more than 15 seconds later does a possum emerge and start helping himself to the food.  Being the idiots that we are, we pounded on the window and scared him into the SAME bush, only to see a mushroom cloud of skunk stink immediately appear.  The whole front perimeter of our house smells horrible and I kinda feel sorry for that possum.  Ok, no I don't.  Damn varmints.



Saturday, August 22nd
Caden went to a birthday party today for one of his toddler buddies at a farm in Half Moon Bay with ponies and animals.  Afterward, we went to the County Fair nearby, so Caden definitely got his fill of animal petting, pigs squealing, cute baby goats and mooing cows.  We got some great photos.



Friday, August 21st
We took Caden to the Ringling Brothers Circus last night.  Being the bleeding heart, animal-loving, crack-pot liberal that I am, of course I struggled with the idea of whether we should go or not.  I've heard some of the controversies about their treatment of animals.  But I decided that I wanted to see it for myself.  So I bought tickets.  And then by complete coincidence, not two hours before we were supposed to leave for the arena, I came across a controversial PETA video showing their circus workers beating some of their elephants.  Oh great.  We decided to go anyway.  I still wanted to see the show for myself.  When we arrived at the arena, there were protesters outside holding up huge signs about animal abuse and handing out informational brochures.  We went in anyway.  I needed to see it for myself. 

So how was the show?  Here's my nutshell review: I was surprised how many animals were included in the show, such as Asian elephants, tigers, Arabian horses, zebras, and performing dogs.  The animals were incredible.  So awesome and so amazingly beautiful.  It was such a treat to see them.  The human performers were all pretty basic and somewhat corny.  The acrobats were pretty cool but nothing we haven't seen before.  The clowns were kind of lame.  As he does at most events and shows like this, Caden sat in his seat with his usual "positive O sign" meaning that his eyes were big and bright and his mouth was in the shape of an "O" the entire time.  I think he only smiled once.  He becomes entranced.  After every act finished up, he'd panic and beckon for "more ... MORE?!"  So I think it's safe to say that he had a good time.

Me?  Well, that's another story.  We went there to see it for ourselves and we did.  And my conclusion is that we will probably not go again.  As beautiful as the animals are and as incredible as it was to see them live, I just can't get past what I saw on the video; images of Ringling employees beating the animals with metal hooks.  Early in the show one of the trainers walked out into the arena leading along an elephant and as soon as I caught a glimpse of his face I think my jaw must have dropped.  It was the same guy from the video seen beating one of the elephants.  That was it for me.  We'll stick to Cirque du Soleil or Disney on Ice from here on out.



Thursday, August 20th
Am I just being stupid?  We're still changing Caden's diapers on the same changing pad we've used since he was an infant.  Consequently, his legs hang off the end and practically knock everything off the dresser.  I guess I just keep hoping that sometime soon diapers will become a thing of the past for us, which is probably dumb because we're not really pushing any potty training right now.  We're kind of waiting for a few more milestones to appear, like his ability to pull his own pants up and down and his ability to tell us he needs to go.  Don't get me wrong, the kid loves to sit on the potty and can pretty much pee at will.  Poop on the other hand, has been a little more elusive. 

He actually had his second-ever poop in the potty the other morning.  I sat him on the potty after he woke up and I could immediately tell he was up to more than his regular business.  Within a minute or so, he stood up and, HOLY GOD, there smoldered one of the biggest craps I've ever seen.  Did that really just come out of you?!  It even scared him.  He took one look at it and started running.  I had to chase him down and whenever we'd walk by the bathroom the rest of the day, he'd peer in the door like a monster was waiting around the corner.  Of course (being me) I had to take a picture of it so John could see.  I'm thinking after that experience, Caden might be a little poop shy for awhile. 

Speaking of second-evers, Caden got his second-ever haircut this week.  And now that I think of it, the last time he pooped in the potty was the last time he got a haircut!  This is going to be one long potty training process at the rate his hair grows.  Anyway, after our experience with his first haircut and his fabulous behavior, I was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing.  Wrong.  He acted like a little twerp.  I don't know if it was because he had to sit in the pink girl's Jeep or if he didn't like the video they were showing, but he kept swinging his head around, swatting her hand away and pulling his gown up over his head.  And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, he decided to poop.  WHAT would make him think that it was a good time to poop?!  Let's just say, she worked more quickly than I've ever seen.  "Daddy, look good?  How it look daddy?  All finished?," she beckoned.  The 25% tip wasn't nearly enough. 



Tuesday, August 18th
I ran into a friend of mine the other day who I haven't seen since before Caden was born.  We were catching up and he asked me if parenting is everything I thought it would be (he doesn't have kids).  I had to think for a second but was surprised how quickly the answer came to me.  Perhaps one thing I didn't quite expect was the extent to which you relinquish your home to your kid.  Surrendering what was once a smartly decorated and orderly dwelling to ... Fisher-Price, Hasbro and Playskool. 

I remember when the first "thing" arrived in our house and I thought to myself can we stick that in a closet somewhere?  It was his baby swing and I remember feeling like it stuck out like a sore thumb amidst all the furnishings in our house.  Amazing how far we've come.  Every freaking corner has something in it.  And every day we're stepping over some object that I swear I just put away ten minutes ago.  Stuff.  Everywhere.  And of course everything shines brightly in one of seven primary colors. 

I once visited a college friend's home whose parents built two sides to their house.  One side was the family area where the kids lived, ate, slept and played.  The other side of the house was the parents "retreat" where no toys were allowed and the kids were allowed to enter only under certain circumstances (like when one of them wasn't breathing).  The parents would go there once the kids were fed and went to sleep.  At the time I thought it was pretty weird.  Now?  Well, you can only imagine what I think of the idea nowadays.



Monday, August 17th
"You've made your bed, now lie in it."  That saying kind of summarizes an Associated Press article today regarding the current culture in the Mormon church as a result of their very active support of Proposition 8 last fall.  Apparently their involvement has really created a public relations nightmare and may "frustrate the church's image for years to come."  Ya think?  Even though some people may not completely understand and support marriage equality, at a very visceral level I think most people realize the crazy and inappropriate crossroads of a non-profit religious institution becoming the driving force in shaping civil rights and people's liberties.

The article states that the church itself contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign supporting Prop. 8 and individual church members donated tens of millions more.  According to the reports made public after the campaign, one of our Mormon neighbors contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Yes on 8 campaign.  What's worse were the incendiary and inflammatory signs he put in front of his home directly attacking families like ours.  We might think the Mormon church earned a bad reputation through all this but just think about the harm done within our communities.  I hope I never see this guy in public.  Ever.  But part of me feels like people in his position can't feel particularly happy with their victory or the support they provided.  I have to wonder how well he must sleep at night knowing what he's participated in.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who was raised Mormon in Utah, is among those quoted in the article, saying "What I hear from my community and from straight progressive individuals is that they now see the church as a force for evil and as an enemy of fairness and equality." Church insiders say Prop. 8 has bred dissent among members and left families divided. Some members have quit or stopped attending services, while others have appealed to leadership to stay out of the marriage equality fight.

Speaking of Kate Kendall (who I think is awesome), recorded the video below on the day the California Supreme Court ruled on Proposition 8.  It's worth watching because it summarizes what needs to be done to overcome the lies and appalling strategies of people fighting against equality.





Sunday, August 16th
We went to church this morning and, as is part of the usual morning service, Pastor Bea asks all of the kids to come forward to the front of the church for a children's talk.  It's also the most unhinged part of the church service.  Caden loves going up there and we've been taking him up since before he could walk.  Of course nowadays he's such a big shot and walks around like he practically owns the place so you never know what you're going to get up there from Sunday to Sunday.  Most often he's charming and pretty respectful - for a two-year-old.

Pastor Bea puts colored squares down on the floor for each kid to sit on before they arrive up at the front.  It's a good idea because it keeps them from wandering around and clues their tiny brains into the notion that there is a seat for them - and they need to find it.  Today, she started into her message and was asking the kids a couple of questions.  Caden was paying attention pretty well but I was a little worried because he was sitting next to his buddy Josh and that typically results in shenanigans.  Everything was fine for about 90 seconds and then Caden decided it was time to fulfill his prophecy as a terrible-two.  He pulled out the colored square from under his butt and proceeded to start beating Josh on the head with it.  Oh cripes.  Before I could even leap to my feet and get over there to put a stop to it, Josh had given in and started to beat Caden on the head with his own colored square.  At this point it didn't matter what Bea was talking about because the congregation was laughing and there was chaos at the front.  And that was the end of the children's message.

My kid.  Gotta love him.  Short leash.  Short leash. 


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Saturday, August 15th
We took Caden to a baseball game tonight to perhaps partially fulfill his current infatuation with sports.  This kid is a certified sports nut. Whether it's baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey; it doesn't matter.  Anything involving a ball, puck or net gets this kid very, very engaged.  I bought him a toddler basketball net this week and I think he's played basketball for 96 hours straight.  It's pretty amusing to watch, especially his celebrations and fist pumps in the air when he makes a basket or gets a goal.

Anyway, we went to the San Jose Giants game tonight with a co-worker of John's and his two sons.  They are 6- and 7-years-old and were extremely sweet to Caden so he was in heaven all night long, hanging out with the guys.  The San Jose Giants are a feeder team to the major league team and they run a pretty informal and fun game.  When the first batter got up to the plate, Caden was glued watching the action.  As soon as the player was done batting, Caden started to freak out thinking the game must be over and started yelling "more, more!"  I explained that there would be plenty more outs and plenty more innings to come.  But every time a batter would finish, he would panic and yell, "more!"

He had a blast tonight and when it came time to leave, it wasn't easy.  There were no tantrums, but the walk back to the car was met with a chorus of "more" and "more baseball" so we promised him that we'd come back to a game soon.

If you doubt my use of the word infatuation, just look at the video.  This is a typical day in our house.  We're almost always playing some kind of sport: baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey ... while all of his expensive and wonderful toys sit like misfits waiting for attention.


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Friday, August 14th
Ahh, milestones.  Some you can be proud of.  Others, well, you just hope it's the first and last time they ever happen.  Today was our first telephone call to the poison control center.  Just lovely.  And no, it wasn't for one of the cats.  I got stuck on a telephone call this morning and Mister Snazzy was upstairs causing his usual amount of upheaval.  Today he managed to get through a number of layers of security and open some prescription medication.  By the time I got up there, he'd dumped the entire bottle on the floor and had pill residue on his hands.  Luckily, I knew exactly how many pills there were supposed to be, so I was able to account for all of them.  It turns out he took a lick on three of them but apparently didn't like the way the coating tasted.  I knew he was probably going to be fine, but it's better to be safe than sorry and I figured a call to poison control couldn't hurt. 

I threw him on the scale knowing they'd ask his weight, gathered up all the medication information and got them on the phone.  It turns out that he would have had to have swallowed at least four pills in order to even have any effect.  Just licking a couple doesn't really constitute an emergency.  But it was a good lesson for everyone nonetheless.  Caden got a good little toddler-level lecture and Papa needs to establish better security for dangerous stuff like that against a kid who will always manage to outsmart, outwit and outlast me.


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Thursday, August 13th
Caden's new school had a family picnic tonight to help folks get acquainted before the school year starts.  It was meant to be kind of an informal mixer, bring-your-own dinner thing.  We weren't there two minutes and Caden was out on the field playing soccer with the big kids.  And he remained there for the rest of the evening.  I felt kind of bad because it was his first real exposure to "age bias."  Here were groups of 4th and 5th graders trying to play soccer or throw around the football and along comes Caden, all of 35 inches tall, expecting to play.  They all stared at him with looks on their face like, "you're kidding right?"  A few treated him like a baby and threw the ball really gently to him but then after awhile they could see how well he could kick and catch.  Some kids still wouldn't share with him though and just didn't let him play because they thought he was too small.  At one point, Caden yelled a very loud "HEY!" at one kid who wouldn't kick him the ball.  But he kept his chin up and never got frustrated.  I was surprised how much it brought out my parental instinct to defend my kid, but I tried to just let him deal with it as much as he could.  In the end, he did more running back and forth on that field than everyone combined though.  We kept trying to divert him over to games with the smaller kids, like blowing bubbles.  But sure enough, he'd always gravitate back to the soccer or football game with the older guys.

Chasing him around the field made it kind of difficult to meet many people, but we did have a chance to introduce ourselves to Caden's preschool teacher.  We were standing there chatting and Caden went up and put his arm around her and gave her a big hug.  She beamed.  I turned red, claiming that I did not tell him to do that and that my son is no suck-up.  Just gregarious.  This preschool thing is going to be very interesting indeed.



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Wednesday, August 12th
Transition trauma.  We're having it - big time - right now.  Caden just doesn't want things to end.  Not all things.  Just fun things.  Or the day; he doesn't want the day to be over.  And when it is, he's pissed.  I think he's high on life, and we might need to consider an intervention. 

For a kid who used to be the easiest transition-er in the world, we're sure going through a tough phase right now.  Stopping any kind of sports play is an especially bad suggestion.  When it's time for him to go to bed, we've always sung a little jingle to get him "notified" and to start winding him down.  Lately, we can't even get the first one or two words out before he greets us with an emphatic "NO!" and starts running away.  *sigh*  I don't want to complain about having a happy kid; I just wish the transitions were a little less dramatic.


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Monday, August 10th
Boy, what a knot I felt in my stomach today.  I want our child to stop growing up so fast, immediately.  We signed him up for preschool today.  I can't really wrap my head around that.  Of course, he's only two-years-old and it's really more like pre-pre-school ... but still.  Then next thing we know, we're going to be packing his things for college!  It makes me sick to even fathom.  Anyway, we decided that Caden might benefit from more exposure to other kids in a more formal classroom environment since his only real exposure right now is around sports or play dates.  There's a great program at a private K-through-5 school that also has a toddler preschool.  It's only one morning a week and includes 100% parent participation, so either John or I will be there every class (although Caden would probably be quite happy if we weren't.)  It's every week until June, just like a regular school year.

We went to the school today to take a tour and submit our application.  It's a pretty nice facility.  Caden immediately found some balls and started kicking them and throwing them around the room.  (Effectively immediately, we've enrolled Caden in a crash course home-school immersion program on how to share, take turns, stand in line and listen.  Hope it sinks in prior to September 15th!)  Seriously though, I think this is going to be a lot of fun and his buddy Layton is going to be in the same class as well so the two of them will likely do plenty of damage together.


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Saturday, August 8th
Two women from the Jehovah's Witness Church showed up at our door this morning to deliver "a positive message about the Bible."  They immediately opened the Good Book and started reading scripture right there on my porch.  Most people would probably just say "no thanks" and close the door.  Not me of course.  I let them go on for a minute and then asked them their view of homosexuality.  The one woman stammered for a minute and then quoted something about an abomination.  So I asked her if she considers shellfish an abomination and stones her children to death when they misbehave.  These, too, are quotes from the Bible that we should be abiding by, right?  Twenty minutes later I'm not sure they knew what hit them.  I was very respectful the whole time but managed to question every argument they had. 

I'm getting pretty good at conversion therapy.  When they heard that I'm Christian too and regularly attend a church that also reads the Bible, it seemed to cut down their argument a bit.  The difference is that my church doesn't pick and choose Bible passages as a way to persecute people.  We accept people for the way they've been created by God.

I really encouraged them to watch one of two movies: Prayers for Bobby and For the Bible Tells Me So.  I sincerely hope they do.  We just watched Prayers for Bobby last night; it's based on the true story of a mother blinded by her religion who rejects her gay son. It's horrendously sad and not terribly well done but worth watching.

The ladies argued that the Bible says it's possible to change.  You don't have to be gay if you don't want to.  Simple as that.  Pray the gay away!  Hmmm.  Let's look at the evidence here: (1) a single passage in the Bible or, (2) the 83 scientific studies cited in a new resolution released this week by the American Psychological Association repudiating gay-to-straight therapy as being "harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies."   And what was their response?  The Bible has been around longer ... 5,000 years or something.  Ok, let's tell that to all the gay youth about to jump off a bridge or swallow a mouthful of pills.

It seems these days that whenever you hear people tout the Bible as the "word of God" it turns out they're the very same people who use it as a book of rules to wave in the air as evidence of someone doing something wrong.  If you want to hear the word of God, pull that big plug of righteousness out of your ear and just listen.  God is speaking to us through our experiences every day and we need to open our hearts and minds to see the world for what it is and live the way Jesus did by loving and accepting others.  When it comes to raising Caden, we hope we can impart these same values and beliefs.  One thing I love about our church (da Lutherans) is that we believe everyone is a sinner.  No one is in a position to judge anyone else and there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less.  There are no limits of God's love for you and no one is outside God's love. 

In the end, the two evangelists standing on my porch ran out of ammunition and stood there mute in front of me.  (I hope it didn't have to do with the fact that I was standing there still in my boxers and most ratty t-shirt).  But I smiled and thanked them and reminded them again to go rent and watch those two movies.  I told them that God loved them and thought perhaps they were sent to my doorstep for a reason.  Maybe the message delivered today was not the one they were expecting, but it was definitely worth considering.  Whether they're willing to open their hearts and minds to hear it is another question.


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Friday, August 7th
There's a new horse wrangler in town.  My friend Sarah and I took Caden and her son Layton horseback riding this morning.  They barely made the age cut-off so the two of them were looking pretty big for their britches out there.  And this was no lame pony ride like you see at the county fair.  We actually hiked solo up a couple of trails and rustled up a couple hundred head of cattle.  Ok, maybe the cattle part is a little embellishment but the rest is true.  And the stables are near a winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains so we rode along the grapevines amidst vast views of the mountains that were beautiful.

The hilarious part is how Caden reacted to it all.  You would have thought he'd been riding horses for 20 years.  He kept talking to his horse "Pumpkin" and encouraging him on and patting him on the butt.  Calm as a cowhand and a real cowboy at heart I guess.  The horse flatulence even generated a wide grin.

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Thursday, August 6th
Happy National Minty Fresh Breath Day!  Apparently one in four people have chronic halitosis.  But do they know it?  Hmmm. They say checking your smelly breath by blowing against your hand doesn't really work.  So maybe we're all just walking around with bad breath.

In a completely unrelated and sad story, there's an article in the local newspaper today about the police likely averting a planned workplace killing after being tipped off by the son of a disgruntled employee en route to his former workplace for a grievance meeting.  He had a gun strapped around his ankle and left a note for his family indicating that he probably wouldn't be back.  Luckily the local police took it seriously and not only locked down the facility, but pulled over his truck before he reached the site.  It's really sad when someone reaches a point to be filled with so much anger.  I couldn't help but think about how many grievance meetings I sat-in on as the employer's representative when I worked in administration.  It was never pleasant and I won't hesitate to say that we fired some real weirdo's that scared the crap out of me while it was all going on.

I saw a poll on a website recently that asked the question, "Are you afraid of death?"  When I was younger, I would never hesitate to answer this question emphatically "no" for a lot of reasons.  As a paramedic, you quickly realize the utter lack of control you have over death anyway, so why fear it?  It's going to happen when it's meant to happen.  I always felt like I had a healthy appreciation for death and never worried about it too much.  When it was my time, then so be it.

But having a child changes everything.  I think I fear death unreasonably; worrying that if my death were to occur prematurely, there would be no one to fulfill Caden's every possible need.  I mean, I know John could do it.  But it wouldn't be me doing it.  There is something very unique about the bond between parent and child.  It's more than a love bond.  It's a provider bond.  And anyone with a kid knows what I mean.  So do I fear death?  Hell yes.  Is death still going to happen when it's meant to be?  Sure.  But I pray that it'll wait at least until he's grown up and I can perhaps transfer my provider bond to someone else - his wife or partner - or until he's ready to push my crotchety old man ass over a cliff in my wheelchair.



Wednesday, August 5th
Caden still uses a pacifier.  There!  I said it!  I admit it! 

Well, not anymore actually.  We hope.  When he was an infant, he didn't really like them and promptly spit them out.  We felt like pacifier-pushers trying to get him to use one so we just gave up. Then as he got a little older, we found ourselves out in public at times when we wished we had - this is going to sound terrible - something to shut him up.  Don't get me wrong; he'd always been a very happy baby.  But he can be quite loud when he wants to, usually at the most inopportune times of course.  So we decided to try a pacifier again.  This time we purchased some wubbanubs, which he loved.  He (and we) have been addicted ever since.  He uses them to sleep.  He uses them for nap time.  He also uses them at the hockey games and church when it's time to shut up.

But now of course the chickens have come home to roost.  He's turned two and it's time to give the pacifiers the boot.  Our first approach was to just go logical by simply asking him, "Can you throw away your pacifiers now?"  Before I'd even finished the sentence, we received an emphatic "NO."  Then we fed him this whole line about the Pacifier Fairy and how she'd bring him a toy, blah, blah, blah.  He wasn't buying it.  We even bought a book called "No More Pacifiers" which he thinks is funny, but is getting him no closer to handing them over.  It seemed like the more we talked about it, the quicker he got at saying "no."

So one night when it came time to go to sleep and I thought to myself ... if logic is not working, what will?  What is the opposite of logic?  Why not play dumb?  So while he was brushing his teeth, I took all of his pacifiers out of his bed and hid them.  When it was time to go to sleep, we just didn't say anything.  When he asked where they were, we played dumb.  Pacifiers?  What pacifiers?  Then you distract. The result?  Except for one or two times when I'VE fallen off the wagon, he's slept for a whole week without them!  I even tried to congratulate him one morning (which goes against my "playing dumb" technique) and he got quite angry and started yelling for his pacifiers.  I guess I won't do that again. 

Here's the bottom line though.  Pacifiers are a parent crutch first and foremost.  Yeah, our kids use them and become addicted to them, but who's the first person to shove one in their mouth?  Mom or Dad.  And who'll be the first one to make the kid fall off the wagon?  Probably Mom or Dad.  Let's hope our "playing dumb" technique continues to work.  I can't say it would be my first choice in approaching a situation with my child, but who says that the Pacifier Fairy is any healthier?



Monday, August 3rd
It really doesn't take much to entertain a toddler.  A simple imagination really.  Oh, and he's becoming quite a dancer.



Sunday, August 2nd
Finally got all of our trip updates and photos posted.  Sorry for the delay.  They're in last month's bloggy area.  

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