Happy First Birthday Dragon

Dear Baby Dragon,

It’s been a year since you were born. It was a time of change, learning, crying, and general confusion… but enough about me.

The first few months, we were worried that if we mixed you in with other babies we wouldn’t be able to tell you apart. It was a great relief when we found the freckle on your left hand. Now you’re old enough to tell us from the other parents so we’re good.

It’s been a fantastic year with you. I was lucky enough to spend the first nine months of your life with you and I wish it had been longer. You grow and change every day, it’s wonderful and terrifying. Since I’ve gone back to work you’ve learnt how to walk, say, “Hi”, sort stuff, and climb up and down furniture.

If the stories your Grannie and Gramma have told us are true, you are right in the middle of your mom and I in terms of personality. Your mom was a ridiculously clever baby with a calm and happy temperament. I was an average baby with an exuberant and happy temperament. You are just as clever as your mom and just as exuberant as your Papa. You also have the stubborn streak that runs in both families and a temper that burns hot and quickly fades.

You already have a mischievous side. When you know you’re doing something you’re not supposed to, you look at the closest adult and smirk. You both want to do the thing and also get chased. I hope you grow out of that before your teen years.

Your Mum and Grannie are covered in bruise from your sharp little teeth. Teething hurts and you bite a lot. You’ve left your dental impression on, toys, furniture, family, walls, your crib, books, and clothing. I really hope you grow out of biting soon.

You frustrate me at times but more often you warm my heart. You’re warm, happy, talkative, excited, and just wonderful. I’d love to take credit but it’s all you.

You give the greatest hugs, they are filled with affection and I hope you never grow out of that.

It’s been quite the year and I’m so proud of you. I’m enjoying watching you grow and become you. It’s something that I will enjoy for the rest of my life.

I love you little Dragon,

Your Papa

Blush: How could someone not know?

One of the many mom groups I’m in on Facebook has a member who just found out she is pregnant – at 26 weeks 5 days. Some people (in her real life) are questioning her about how she didn’t know. I don’t know the specifics of her case, but the point is, she didn’t know. Here are some reasons why she might not have known:

Pregnancy tests are crap

Pregnancy tests look for hCG in your urine. There are ways to get false positives (like some fertility treatments – how awful is that?), but it is very easy to get a false negative as well. If your levels of hCG are low, it won’t be detected by home pregnancy tests.

Weight gain is inconsistent

Not everyone gains a ton of weight when they get pregnant, or look like they’re smuggling a beach ball, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. In my personal experience, I lost 9 pounds over the first 4 months of my pregnancy. And I didn’t get a noticeable pregnancy bump until around 5-6 months, because I already had a tiny bit of extra in my lower abdomen. Someone who is extremely exercise conscious, who is tall, who has extra pounds, who is stressed (all different cases there) could easily not know they are pregnant. They may not have this symptom, or it might go unnoticed.

6 months
6 months
6 months
6 months
7 months
7 months
9 months
9 months
2 days overdue
2 days overdue

 

“Morning sickness”

I didn’t get nauseated in the morning. I got it at 5:30 pm, like clockwork. However, if I ate small snacks throughout the day, or took a nap in the afternoon, I didn’t get it. And I only felt a little queasy – I didn’t have any vomiting.

But morning sickness can show up all day, at any time during the day, or not at all. If they are one of the lucky ones who fall into the latter category, then this symptom wouldn’t help to define pregnancy.

What about menstruation?

Sure, if you’re regular, you might notice that you’re not menstruating. But irregular periods happen… er, regularly. There is also a chance of period-like bleeding happening whilst pregnant. I was told by my doctor to keep an eye out for spotting, so it’s fairly common.

Baby movements

Not all babies move in distinct ways. Personally, I didn’t realize that the uncomfortable gas bubbles I thought I was feeling was actually the baby moving until week 19, when she made my stomach pop out a bit. I can see how someone who didn’t know they were pregnant would just think they had bad indigestion or something.

Also, my baby moved A LOT. Some babies don’t. We’re told to count 10 distinct movements every day. I had 10 in under a minute. The doctor counted. He said that he didn’t often feel them moving that much…and this was well after the 6 month mark, because my baby was shy when somebody else’s hand was on my belly (including my husband!).


There are many more reasons, including existing health issues, contraceptive use, infertility, etc that might hide a pregnancy from all involved.

Do you know anyone who didn’t know they were pregnant? How did they find out? When did they find out? Tell me the story in the comments!


Reference

http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/issues/10-reasons-you-might-not-know-you-are-pregnant11.htm


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

The Importance of Taking a Break

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

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

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

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

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

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