The Importance of Taking a Break

skyrim vacation

skyrim vacation

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Some mornings I wake up thinking about all the things I have to do and I panic. I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling paralyzed. I’m not afraid of work, or working a lot. I’m terrified of forgetting something.

Since September, I’ve increased the amount of things I do and I’m not just talking about taking care of a baby Dragon. I’ve written a few more short stories, added a few more jobs, laid out more books, and roasted more coffee than ever before.

I’m extremely lucky both in the quality of my clients and that I had this wonderful opportunity to watch my child grow up right before my eyes. That said, other than a week at Disney that was a lot of fun but not relaxing, I took a few days to myself after Christmas.

I’m starting to feel like butter spread over too much bread. I know my limits, and with my parental leave quickly running out, I need some time to recharge.

If you don’t force yourself to take some time off from doing all the little things that stress you out, you’re never going to get the chance.

So I’m taking next week, the 15-19 of May, off to relax, watch some TV, and play some video games. Hopeful the weather will be nice and I can take the Dragon to the park. No plans, no big obligations, just me, my wife, and baby Dragon.

After that week, I have to start preparing for my return to work, and I’ll have 3 books to work on, along with more conventions.

Later Days,

Éric

Revenge of Bumkins

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

A few weeks ago I complained to Bumkins about their product. I received an email two days later asking for pictures of the defective products, our address, and receipts. I sent all the information and have yet to receive an email reply.

What I did get instead was a facebook comment:

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Now, I expected they were going to send a refund. I was wrong; instead they sent a “Gift Package.”

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I complained that, “…they are not one size fits all. Although our six month old daughter is long and thin, it seems ridiculous that we should choose between deep red indentations that irritate her skin or changing her clothing three times a day.”

So who over at Bumkins thought that sending more diapers that don’t work was a good idea?

On top of that, because it was a “gift” and came from the US, we had to pay $47 of taxes and duty for the package.

Here’s my reply to Bumpkins:

Hello,

I sent an email complaining about the quality and poor fit of your diapers and was asked to send my address, images, and receipts.
Today I picked up your package, which cost us $47 in taxes and duty. I’m not sure why you thought, after our complaint, that we’d want more diapers that do not fit and fall apart. We didn’t request the package and if you’d asked we would have said it wasn’t what we wanted.
We have now spent over $300 on your products and packages. Your gesture, although well meaning, is both insulting and useless.
The Wonder woman bib is cute though.
Regretfully
Éric and Jen Desmarais

There’s a lesson in customer service that we can all learn here. Don’t assume that people are complaining just to get random free stuff. Talk to your customers and don’t assume.

The Wonder Woman bib is cute, but not $47 worth.

Later Days,

Éric

Dil, Tabitha, and baby Dab

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My sister introduced me to Dan (Twitter) and Phil (Twitter) just after Keladry was born, so she has “grown up” with their voices. It just made sense for her first cosplay to be Baby Dab, from DanandPhilGames play the Sims. I cannot recommend these two YouTubers enough, on both of their own channels (AmazingPhil and Danisnotonfire), and on their collaborative efforts.

Also in the picture with Baby Dab are Dil (cosplayed by Lindsay (Website, Twitter)), and Tabitha (cosplayed by Victoria (Instagram, Twitter)), and Dan (held by Dil) and Phil (held by Tabitha) plushies.

(The TARDIS is hidden…can you find it?)

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Bumkins Cloth Diapers Review and Complaint

bumkins

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When we were expecting little Dragon, we knew diapers were going to be expensive. We decided that an upfront cost was worth it for an overall cheaper price. So we went with cloth diapers. I did countless hours of research that ended in total and complete confusion.

We finally decided on Bumkins Two Piece Diaper System. It seemed like the perfect choice. We loved the idea of shells that could be reused and inserts / soakers that would let us control the amount of absorption. The clincher was the idea that she could use them for her entire diapered life.

They were terrible. Quite possibly one of the most disappointing purchases I’ve ever made. They seriously suck. I’m sure part of my issues are due to the complexity of cloth diapering but most were due to the shoddy quality of the diapers.

bumkins

See the letter I sent the company below.

Later Days,
Éric

Dear Bumkins,

I’m writing to express my extreme disappointment with your Two Piece Diaper System.

My wife and I decided on your system because of the flexibility of your one size fits all, your price, and because of the softness of your materials.

We purchased a dozen your shells in various patterns, thirty of your soakers, and twenty inserts. It was a rough start, but with the help of other parents that swore by cloth diapers and your product we came to get the hang of them.

Over the past five months we’ve had countless problems with the quality of your product.

First, the shells were so poorly sewn together that we needed to repair more than half of them, some multiple times. After a few months of use, the shells’ waterproof material thinned and let liquid through.

Second, the seams on the soakers are just as terribly put together. For a few nights, I needed to trim the loose threads every time before putting them in the diaper.

Third, even with the inserts, our daughter couldn’t go several hours of napping without wetting her clothing and soaking through your diapers. It became such a problem that we worried she was peeing an abnormal amount. The problem completely disappeared when we started using regular disposables at night.

Fourth, they are not one size fits all. Although our six month old daughter is long and thin, it seems ridiculous that we should choose between deep red indentations that irritate her skin or changing her clothing three times a day.

Fifth, the soakers and inserts do not draw the liquid away from her body. They will soak in one location and stay there instead of being absorbed. This means even a small amount of urine will rest against her skin and cause a rash.

My wife and I had high hopes for your product, but its poor-quality construction and worse design mean we will certainly dissuade our friends and family from using your diapers.

Sincerely,
Éric and Jen Desmarais

Dear Dragon – Six Months

Six months

Six months

Dear Baby Dragon,

You turned six months old on Sunday and as I write this you’re playing on your mat making adorable sounds and rotating to the toy you want to chew on.

The past week or so has been tough; you caught your first cold and have been leaking from your nose. It’s gotten to the point where you start screaming when you see a tissue. You’re getting better now and I look forward to not hearing you be all phlegmy.

Crawling is about to happen any day. You get up on your hands and knees and rock back and forth. Sometimes you’ll army crawl. You also love to pretend that you’re skydiving.

Added to your screeching (Curse you DanIsNotOnFire) is growling, babbling, and a lot of giggles. Honestly, there is nothing better than hearing you laugh. It’s filled with such pure joy and love. I could listen to it all day.

One thing I really wish you’d stop doing is grabbing and pinching. I know you don’t understand that it hurts us and you’re just trying to keep your balance but it’s a real pain.

It’s been a wonderful six months with you and I wish I could spend more time but you’ll be eight and a half months when I have to go back to work. I’m doing everything I can to remember and appreciate this time together.

Well, I have a diaper to change.

Love you lots and lots my Little Dragon,

Your Papa

 

 

Let’s get Cynical

Borrowed from https://www.instagram.com/_12drawings_/

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

By reading this blog, I’m sure you noticed I’m a rather optimistic kind of person. I tend to assume the best of people and believe hope is important.

That being said I have my cynical moments. Last night as we were getting the little Dragon to sleep, I came to the realization that there are two kinds of cynical. When things don’t go your way or go badly, you can fall on two extremes of cynicism; Conspiracy or Stupidity.

Borrowed from https://www.instagram.com/_12drawings_/
Borrowed from Kenzie AKA _12drawings_ on Instagram

Conspiracy

Let’s say, for examples sake only, that your baby doesn’t seem to be going to sleep (just an example, I swear…). If your cynicism leans towards conspiracy, you’ll assume that the baby is trying to stop you from sleeping. Possibly for some sort of nefarious plan where she steals all your energy.

This is the extreme that you see a lot of with big businesses or with government. They’re all out to get us/me/you! It makes us feel special, because someone wants to get us, and makes us feel like there is purpose in the world.

Stupidity

This is absolute opposite side of cynicism. Instead of assuming the baby is trying to stop you from sleeping, you assume the baby has no idea what it’s doing and has no sinister motives. It’s just a baby that hasn’t developed enough to realize that it’s time to sleep and that you haven’t abandoned her in a crib for ever.

This is the harder form of cynicism. It assumes chaos and it assumes you have nothing to do with what happened. Humans tend to assume everything that happens around us is about us; we are a self-absorbed race. It is freeing to realize that everyone is just blundering about trying to get to their goals.

 

I’m trying my best to be hopeful and grotesquely optimistic, but the times I am cynical I lean towards the second option. I’ve worked in government, retail, big business, tourism, etc (seriously, I’ve done a lot) and one thing I’ve noticed is how, as a society, we are extremely hard to organize. It’s always more likely to be incompetence or stupidity rather then maliciousness. (That’s Hanlon’s Razor)

Where do you fall on the cynicism spectrum?

Éric

Top 5 Things you Shouldn’t Do/Say to a Baby

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5. Judge their behaviour

Seriously. I see you over there tsking at the parents whose kids are crying or being loud.

Not every child deals the same with different stimulus. It’s not that they’re badly behaved, it’s that they have no methods for coping with stuff. Infants and babies literally have never experienced anything as terrible as what they’re going through. Cut them some slack.

4. Complain about their clothing

Not all parents can afford designer clothing, some parents are geeky, and not all parents follow your gendering ways. If a parent wants to put their girl in a batman outfit it’s none of your business. Same with if they want to put their boy in a pink wonder woman shirt. It’s none of your business.

3. Touch them without permission

The parents don’t know where your hands have been, the child can’t give consent, and it’s down right creepy. Check with the parents, and then if they’re ok with it, go nuts.

How would you feel if someone came up to you and started poking you, messing your hair, or grabbing your hand?

2. Insist they smile at you

Baby smiles are awesome. I understand that everyone loves it when a baby smiles at them. That doesn’t give you the right to stop the baby and parents and insist that the baby smile at you. If the baby smiles in passing, yay. If not, move along.

Having someone stop you in public to explain to your baby why they should smile is creepy.

1. Smoke in their vicinity or living area

At this point you either understand the dangers of smoking or you don’t want to understand. That’s perfectly fine but you forfeit the right to complain when someone tells you to move away from a baby.

Second hand smoke and third hand smoke (the smoke that stays on your clothing) can cause severe respiratory issues in babies for their entire life.

If you smoked in that clothing, you should not be holding a baby.

 

Anything I missed?

Éric

Dear Dragon – Monsters

Hi Dragon,

Watching the news today, I held you tight and warned you about the monsters. They don’t have bolts in their neck, and they don’t get burned by sunlight. They look like us and walk around in daylight, but they exist.

This will be history for you when you read this, but one of those monsters shot at innocent people in a place of worship yesterday. He killed six innocent people and hurt a lot of others. His actions are inexcusable and monstrous.

That’s the difference, my little Dragon, between fictional monsters and real ones. Fictional monsters do terrible things because it’s in their nature, or they were made that way; real monsters make themselves from their actions.

Of course, there are other factors that help create real monsters. Hate, fear, intolerance, and anger help feed them, but in the end, it’s their actions that make them monsters. This means we are all capable of being monsters.

There are ways to help prevent monsters and they are so simple they seem silly. These ways are simply to keep love in your heart and share it with others. Treat people with respect, even when they don’t deserve it, help your neighbour, and be the kind of person who helps others.

Help, not through grand gestures, but through small acts of kindness. The small acts add up to bigger ones. We are all capable of being monsters, but that means we are also capable of being the opposite; Helpers.

It may be optimistic and it may be naïve, but I believe we can all make the world a better place by helping more.

Be a Helper and, as always, have hope!

I love you so much my little Dragon,

Your Papa

Dear Dragon – Your First Trip

Dear Dragon,

As I write this, you’re a day away from going on your first vacation. Tomorrow, at an insane time, we’ll get you up and bundle you and all our luggage and head to the airport. Then we’re off to Disney and Universal with your Aunt and Grannie.

You’ll grow up travelling a little bit everywhere. It’s a perk of your Mum being a travel agent. I hope you appreciate travelling. I hope you realize how lucky you are to be able to go to all the awesome places you’ll be going.

I also hope this new phase of screeching doesn’t last too long. If it does it’ll be an interesting plane ride.

It’s mostly joyful but people can get really cranky when they fly so hopefully you’ll stick to the cuter noises.

I know you won’t remember this trip, but I hope you’ll have as much fun as we will. Someday we’ll go again and I’ll love seeing your excitement. Until then, we’ll just get hundreds of adorable pictures of you at the parks.

Your excited Papa

Top 5 Ways Having a Baby is like Joining a Cult

Image from ScaryForKids.com

Brainwashing is no longer considered the reason most people join cults. Instead, it’s theorized that it’s a combination of indoctrination and acceptance that leads people to follow dangerous or benign cults.

Having a child, you go through a similar experience and the two are scarily close.

*Warning*
This is meant as a humorous article pointing out the obvious and making exaggerated claims, not as a serious scientific debate.

Image from ScaryForKids.com
Image from ScaryForKids.com

5. Eating and Sleeping

The human mind depends a lot on its body functioning and reacting in a predictable way. Changing its patterns and starving the body of sleep or food can completely alter the way the mind reacts to situations.

For that reason, cults will often wake up their members every couple of hours to meditate, pray, etc. They will also under-feed or change the eating habits of their members for the same reason.

When you have a child, it does the same thing; waking you up multiple times a night and making sure you never have a warm meal or a meal on time again.

4. Isolation and Inclusion

The first thing that a cult will do is try to isolate new members. If they don’t have a strong support structure, they’re more vulnerable to what appears to be a warm and inviting environment. Once the members are isolated, they make sure that the other members become a new, self echoing, support structure.

When you have a baby, it comes first. A lot of the people you saw all the time disappear into the background and you find yourself meeting other parents at Ikea or the Disney Store.

At first it’s like everyone has abandoned you and then you meet other parents and they understand how you’ve suffered. Suddenly you have a completely new structure of friends.

3. Constant Fear

Cults, and extreme political parties, often like to reinforce how awesome they are by contrasting to an enemy. It could be another cult, another culture, the government etc. Sometimes it won’t be a person or group of people but an event or idea. Conspiracies, end of days, etc.

As a new parent, you will be bombarded by advice from scientific articles, friends, family, and random strangers. Each and every one of which will contradict each other or itself. The advice will be dire and terrifying. One friend will send you something like this, “Using a soother will warp your child’s gums and their teeth will be crooked and ill developed” and another will send you this, “Using a soother lowers the risk of SIDS.”

EVERYTHING will kill your kid or scar them for life and every parent will fight to the death for the thing they believe in.

2. Rituals and Repetition

Cults ingrain ideas and habits by repetition and rituals. Songs, chants, and speeches are common but so are exercises, flagellation, or repetitive actions.

As a new parent, what was once a fun cute rhyme is now a mandatory ritual. A favourite song becomes constant background noise.

Things start needing to be done in a specific order that you were daft enough to not write down and when the diaper is changed after the feeding instead of before, you’re lost to singing extra made up verses of their bedtime song.

Not to mention that watching hours of Pepa Pig, Paw Patrol, or Dora makes you wish for the flagellation.

1. Charismatic Leader

Really dangerous cults have an extremely charismatic leader. Someone who can, with a smile and a well-placed word, make you feel like the most important person in the world. A person so lovable that everyone wants to be around them.

A baby will scream, poop, puke, pee, scream, pull your hair, and hit you with every body part. At two AM you’ll wake up, hearing them make a noise and you’ll beg every deity you’ve ever heard of that they don’t wake up.

Despite all that they’ll look up at you with those big eyes and make a cooing noise that will melt your heart and you’ll instantly forgive them. Their smile makes you feel utterly filled with love and when they snuggle into you, you feel a love like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. (Snuggling may actually be a baby’s way of trying to burrow into your chest to steal your heart.)

 


One big difference, thankfully, is the fact that parenthood rarely results in mass suicide.