Offbeat Dad

This should come as a shock to none of you at this point, but I’m not exactly a “color inside the lines” kinda guy. 

I’m eccentric. And that’s likely putting it mildly.

But hopefully these idiosyncrasies are part of what make me a decent daddy… Or, failing that, at least an entertaining one.

Take, for example, my time spent as a nightclub DJ. (Yes, really.)  While late nights spinning Underworld, Chemical Brothers, and Roni Size did a number on my hearing, it also made me very comfortable paying attention to two separate sources of sound, entering two different ears.

*Man, this new Mudhoney album is pretty fire. I wonder– Wait, that was the curtain string being pulled.*

Or perhaps consider the many years I spent as a Dungeon Master for my friends, back when we played D&D. While I’ll grant you that’s unassailably geeky, it did work my chops as a storyteller, and forced me to come up with a wide range of distinct voices for my characters. Both of these practices have translated pretty well into the hours and hours (and hours) of reading that I’ve done with Daphne.

Like, for example, this BumbleDad rendition of Eek, Halloween! by Sandra Boynton.

(Yes, the fall books have officially moved into rotation.)

Now I’m not saying I’m Superdad (hell, I don’t think I rank as a competent one most days), but every so often the weird things I’ve done in my past bubble up. And they become peccadillos that make my daughter furrow her brow at me and giggle.

And when that happens, just for a moment, the world lines up and it feels like the parts of my life gone by are still somehow relevant today. Like, the things in my past that make me, me, are things that my daughter happens to like too.

I don’t know if I’m doing a very good job describing this. But I truly hope you other parents out there know what this feels like.

Because it’s pretty awesome.

Okay, enough of this nebulous sentimental stuff. I promised you some new swimming videos of Daphne in the big pool, didn’t I?

And there you go. 

Okay folks, see you next week! Thanks for coming by.

j.s.

Little Fish, Big Pool

Hi there.

Yep, it’s been a few. But honestly there hasn’t been a whole lot to report. We’re into a solid groove with our daily schedule, insomuch as there’s ever a “groove” involved when getting kids up and ready for school.

“I could ‘groove’ right back to bed and catch a few more hours of sleep, Dad.”

Jen’s school year is going along like they do, and it sounds like it’s going pretty well for the most part. She actually took last Friday off so we could go to the Lord Huron concert downtown without the need for a 4am wake-up call the following morning.

That’s they.

And the concert was great. Although it did become apparent, after standing on a concrete floor for 4 hours, that we’re getting a bit old to be among the “early arrival” crowd.  By the time Lord Huron came on it felt like I’d need to Uber a Hoveround just to get back to the car.

It was a good time. And Daphne was well-behaved for my mom, who came into town to watch her while Jen and I had our date night.

We did learn, however, that Daph is NOT a fan of that “Under the Sea” song in The Little Mermaid though.

That pinchy little devil has a plan…

She apparently became inconsolable for quite some time after that song came on. And I tried it the following day with her and got the same result.

“Wait…is that the crab song?”
“No, no! Not the crab song!”

Message received.
Zero distortion.
That song is a loser.
Got it.

Fortunately, it just so happens that I have the cure for the evil hymns of Jamaican crustaceans…

Beard snuggles to the rescue!

That crab’s got nothing on me.

Finally, as of Monday, Daphne graduated from her lessons in the baby pool, and is now taking swim class in the “big pool.”

I will attempt to get some pictures of this, however she’s much farther away than before so I’m not sure how well they’ll come out. Also, she shares the pool with other kids who are taking their lessons, and I’m naturally hesitant to start snapping pictures of other people’s kids in a pool. (The facility actually expressly forbids this, but her teacher allowed me to take the few pics/videos you’ve seen here, as long as I didn’t get any other kids in the background.)

I’ll do what I can though.

Okay, I’m off. See you soon.

Malaria Lair

 The mosquitoes…are everywhere.

For those who don’t live in Dagobah the greater Houston area, you might be unaware of how steady the rain has been over the past 3 weeks.  

The normal, “turned up to 11” humidity has doubled down this month, and  the almost daily thunderstorms have created an oppressive blanket of airborne muck that has swaddled our fair city.

And all this water has, in turn, brought the mosquitoes.

They’ve gotten so bad that instead of holding hands and leisurely walking to the car in the morning, I now pick Daphne up before opening the door and we run to the car amidst a whirling, whining cloud of winged bloodsuckers.

I actually just went out to see if I could get a picture of all of them, but obviously they’re too small to photograph and I ended up with a rather unexciting picture of my front door.

Just imagine this, but covered in little black specks that want to kill you.

The only thing this accomplished was to rile up the dogs Alex, since he thought someone was creeping around the front door.

“There’s someone out there, fool! I heard them! Call the police!”

Jib, however, has remained unfazed.

“Eh, you go check. Come get me if they make it inside.”

I also couldn’t help but notice that there haven’t been any mosquito trucks out spraying recently. After a quick perusal of their website, it seems that Fort Bend County doesn’t spray for mosquitoes unless there’s a “public health hazard.”

Those pins are spray trucks, sitting idly in the parking lot of the place where all our taxes go.

Well what do you call this?

Look at the size of that thing.

That’s not a bug, it’s exsanguination with wings.

Okay, I think I’ve ranted about the mosquitoes enough. Suffice to say, they’re bad right now and I’m very ready for the first cold snap to come and wipe them all out. Moving on.

Daphne is doing well. She’s settled down into a pretty good school routine. And we know this, because we get these little sheets from her teachers every day:

Those numbers are how many times it takes to convince Daphne to do a thing. So if she had to be asked twice, they’d circle the 2 before putting the “+” sign for successful completion of the task. 

If she completely refuses to do an activity, she gets the dreaded “” mark, which is actually what we’ve been getting for “puzzle time” all week. (Apparently she doesn’t want to sit down to do them…)

Honestly, I’ll take the negative marks there rather than during lunch though, which is where she had been refusing to sit down the past couple weeks.

Overall though, she’s doing very well. 

I, however, completely screwed up swim classes yesterday.

I’d had a moderately busy morning, doing the dishes and laundry, making the bed, scheduling the A/C check-up, and replying to a couple potential new clients for my nascent business...

And in doing so I became distracted and forgot the damn swim bag on the bar stool at home, which held Daphne’s bathing suit, towel, hydro-diaper, etc.

Don’t leave home without it, dummy.

Naturally I didn’t realize this until after I’d picked her up and we’d just started to pull away from school.

“Oh no…”

Oh yes.
Totally spaced it.
Duh.

Unfortunately that meant we had less than 20 minutes to make it home, run inside to grab the swim bag, and then zip back over to the swim academy.

Now I didn’t break any speed laws attempting to do this…but I might have bent them to a point of being slightly misshapen. 

Still, we were still 5 minutes late for a 15-minute class (by the time I got her changed we probably would’ve only had 6 or 7 minutes left); fortunately, her wonderful instructor rescheduled her for 1:30, so she was still able to get a full class.

I, however, was fuming by that point. Given that my absentmindedness might have contributed to Daphne being unable to take her swim class, which she loves…  Ugh.

I’m still a little aggravated with myself over it, to be honest.

Okay, see you guys next week.

j.s.

Subsidized Swimming and Sleeping

Hi there.

I apologize for yet another lengthy delay in posting, but I’ve been updating the back-end of this site to help ensure that it, and everyone browsing it, is safe from the less-than-savory types that lurk in the darkened corners of the Interwebs. You know, the ones with neckbeards and meme t-shirts (in size “husky”), wearing fedoras and peering angrily through a haze of vape smoke.

And honestly, it’s been a bit of a hassle.

However! Chrome users should note that the dubious “NOT SECURE” tag next to the website URL above is now gone.  And at some point McAfee will get around to verifying the site and they should add a little footer at the bottom to reassure everyone that the site is secure.

So there you go. Safe as BumbleHouses. Moving on.

There have been a couple of developments with Daphne’s swim classes. The first is that she has completed her beginner “survival swim” lessons. And here is the moment where she graduated…

I won’t lie. There was a moment of concern when it took her a while to come back up…

And so, in a perceptibly proud moment, her teacher came over after this class and handed her a little t-shirt badge that allowed her to go to the front desk and collect her official Texas Swim Club t-shirt.

We’re very proud of our little fish. And Texas Swim Academy has been fantastic to us throughout the (nearly) 4 months that we’ve been going there. I can unquestionably recommend them if you’re looking for swim lessons for your little one, neurotypical or otherwise. (And no, they’re not subsidizing that comment in any way.)

But speaking of subsidies…

A while ago we were given an application for a “scholarship” from a program called KNOWAutism. The focus was to help kids with autism pursue extracurricular activities like horseback riding, adaptive yoga and…yes, swimming classes. 

So I filled out the paperwork, wrote a little letter to them about Daphne (you know, like I’m wont to do), and last week they emailed me back an approval for a scholarship for our favorite little one.

So Daphne’s swim classes are now completely paid for through the end of the year, thanks to KNOWAutism and the wonderful people who’ve donated to them.

Quick pause with a mouthful of Cheerios to celebrate.

So, from my entire family, thank you all very, very much. It’s been a pretty challenging year, and that money will help us more than you know.

Thank you.

But you know? This little girl has worked really hard at her swim lessons.

So I think she’s earned it.

Regardless, congratulations on both of these, Daphne. Mommy and Daddy are very, very proud of you and we’re so happy that other folks are getting to see what a wonderful little person you are.

Now, that being said, we need to talk a little about your sleeping habits…

Up until now, sleeping through the night has been one of the things that we thankfully didn’t concern ourselves with too much. Aside from the normal lack of rest that comes standard with a new baby, Daphne has always been a great sleeper.

But recently, she’s taken to waking up at around 3am and crying and/or playing for a couple hours before going back to sleep.

This has, quite obviously, wreaked havoc on our morning schedule.

“No juice. Coffee. Coffee now.”

To go from her usual 9-10 hours of rest, to suddenly getting less than 7 has clearly been rough.

“I think we need to call in a ‘snuggle day’ from school. Do they have those?”
Seriously Dad? I’m exhausted, and I’m just trying to get through this applesauce. No pictures.

It hasn’t been an every night affair, but I’d say it’s happening about twice a week? Enough to where we’ve gone back to the days of audibly instructing begging her to sleep through the night when she goes to bed.

And last night was a rough one too.

Hopefully this is just a phase or something and she’ll go back to her 9-hours-of-uninterrupted-sleep self soon.

Hopefully.

j.s.

After School Specials

Hi there.

So this is slightly awkward, as WordPress has created a new interface called “Gutenberg” (presumably Johannes and not Steve) which is making for a very strange text editor. I guess I’ll get used to it, but right now it feels like I’m tweeting or something…

Anyway, as I mentioned about a week ago, Daphne has started school again and is doing quite well. **knocks on wood**  Granted, there have been a few small bumps here and there, but they mostly involve the other children and their penchant for crying rather than eating their lunch. (This in turn causes Daphne to cover her ears rather than eat her own snack…) All in all, things are going well though.

That said, we think it’s really important that she continues her physical activities. And so we’re continuing to take her to swim class…

Her jumps are getting better and better

and I brought her with me to the rock gym for the first time last week.

Lemme get this straight. I hold on to these things…
And use them to climb up there?
That. Is. Awesome!

At one point, after no small amount of coaxing and reassurance, she wandered over to the wall on her own and began her very first climb.

Okay. This is harder than it looks, Dad.

Not wanting to push a good thing too far, we left the kids’ climbing area after this and I let her just run around the bouldering area.

Yes, we had as much fun as it looks.

When we’re not at school, or the natatorium, or the climbing gym, we’re hiding inside from the brutal Texas weather. 

This is the part of the year where I start to get a little freaky about the heat, and desperation for a cold front begins to manifest. I start to eye my sweaters longingly, sigh when passing over my corduroys in favor of a pair of “dadcore” cargo shorts, and I start to organize my hoodies…you know, just in case.

Daphne seems to have a similar idea as well, as she’s been getting on her tricycle and into her wagon in the afternoons. And I have to sit her down and explain to her that, no sweetie, we can’t leave the house because the Earth has somehow shifted in orbit to 30 miles away from the Sun, and the climate outside has become demonic. 

She’s taken it in stride so far.

You are a strange and silly man, Daddy.

Sadly, we’re about 2 months removed from any serious change in the weather to allow such things. So, if you’re looking for us, until then we’ll be found anywhere there’s air-conditioning.

See you later.

j.s.

Elementary Elements

Hey there.

Yes, today was the first week of school.

Yeah, I know that isn’t exactly Annie Leibovitz material. Sorry. Daphne wasn’t exactly being cooperative with the sign.

Okay, now can you hold the sign up? Wait! Don’t get chalk on your jeans!

And I’m happy to say that she made it with a minimum of fuss, although there were indeed a few tears when I dropped her off. (Some were even hers.)

And after I drop Daphne off at school, I go directly to Momentum Rock Gym to work out, the membership to which was my birthday present. (From various sources, but the idea was Jen’s.)

This place.

Just between you and me, Internet? The BumbleDad has gotten more than a little beamy from being home all the time and generally eating terribly. So doing a bit of exercise/climbing has been a great way for me to start the day. And since I’m more than halfway to the gym when I leave Daph’s school, it works out pretty well.

After climbing I go back home, clean up (the carnage of a speedy breakfast is always rough) work on some proofreading/job hunting, and then it’s just about time to go get The Little Girl again.

One who seemed none the worse for wear when I picked her up after her first day…

This ‘Tom’s Diner‘ song is fire, Daddy!

Daph is still adjusting to the schedule though. I had She had gotten used to sleeping in until 8:30, and lounging around the house before a leisurely breakfast at around 10.

She comes home pretty tired in the afternoons, and has even started putting herself down for her nap.

No, I’ve no idea why the flash cards are in bed…

Yesterday we pushed it even further, and she had a swim class right after school.

She’s getting really good…

From there, she went to her grandparents’ place and played for the rest of the afternoon, sans nap. All of these things combined to make for a very tired little girl last night, and she was asleep a little after 9:00.

So the schedule slowly, methodically, gets whacked into some semblance of normalcy after the chaos of summer.

We’ll see if we can keep it up next week.

Until then!

j.s.

p.s. These were from this morning and were too adorable not to share. Even the teachers on door duty pointed and clasped their hands to their hearts as she walked by.

 

Where’ve You Been?

Hey.

Sorry about that. I’ve been pretty busy with a non-stop barrage of editing assignments, job hunting and sojourns throughout Texas.

The first I can’t really go into because of NDA stuff, but it’s been a goodly amount of work and I’ve another 2 projects that I’m in the midst of right now. Sadly it doesn’t quite pay the mortgage, but it’s been a not insignificant amount of money that I’ve earned with them the past 6 weeks. So it helps.

Speaking of which, the job hunting thing continues. I was actually quite close to accepting a job in Plano last week but Jen and I determined that uprooting isn’t the best move for Daphne right now. She’s doing so great in all of her therapy and classes that it just didn’t seem like the right choice..

I did, however, have a rather interesting stay at a hotel up there.

I rented a car through Expedia (I didn’t want to put 500 miles on the Juke in 105° heat) and they gave me a really good deal on a room at the NYLO Plano.

Looks nice, right?

I checked in, got my room, and upon opening the door I found that it was nearly identical in size and shape to a freight container.

Replete with water-stained concrete ceilings!

Which, you know, was fine. Not great, but I just needed to stay the one night and then head home after my interview. Who cares if I’m sleeping in a Cinder Block Simulator?

I got settled atop the comforter, and worked on my proofreading until I was so tired that I’d read the same paragraph 5 times on a loop without realizing it. At which point I pulled the comforter and sheet back and found…a mattress pad.

Now I was pretty tired, so it took me a second to figure it out, but it seems that the maid service skipped the whole “fitted sheet” step, and just tucked a flat sheet in over the mattress. I stood there confused for a moment, then gave the equivalent of a mental shrug and climbed between the sheet and comforter.

And I’ll tell you, fitted sheets are a thing for a reason.

Without them, the flat sheet and mattress pad combo tends to bunch up as you move in your sleep, and you’ll subsequently awake at various points in the night contorted around a strange topography of bedding. This, in turn, prompts what I’ve called the “Smoothy Bounce.” That’s where you bounce your whole body up off the bed (while still laying prone), grab the sheets with both hands, and shoot your arms out sideways mid-air in an effort to create a small flat area for you to go back to sleep on. I did this several times that night…

The next morning, tired from lack of sleep, I slowly padded over to my personal Keurig machine for some “coffee” (I’m decidedly anti-Keurig, but that’s a post for another time), popped the lid, and was confronted by another man’s used Keurig pod, still sitting in the hopper.

Again, this is not a huge deal. But it’s not the way you want to start a day. Particularly when you have an interview in a few hours and you’re already tired from performing the equivalent of a Gabby Douglas floor routine all night in an effort to smooth your bedding.

So I (gingerly) removed the expended plastic caffeine nugget, replaced it with a fresh caffeine nugget, and went about my day.

When I mentioned these issues to the front desk as I was checking out, the young man just stared blankly at me for a few moments, then said “okay, I’ll make a note for housekeeping.”

Fantastic, Gustave. That’s very helpful at this point, since I’m checking out and all…
Wunderbar.

Okay, that’s enough complaining about my temporary accommodations; let’s talk about Daph.

Yeah, I guess that hotel story did go a bit long…

Daph is doing great. There were minor hiccups in her speech class this week, but her swim classes are still going, er, swimmingly.

She’s able to float on her back by herself now, and is starting to get the hang of doggy paddling. Her teacher even allowed me to take a quick video last week, since there weren’t any other kids around:

Awesome, right?

Shortly after we took this, we packed up the Juke and headed to Seguin to visit the grandparents. (Leg two of the earlier referenced “sojourns.”)

There was the requisite amount of relaxing there (I actually got a lot of work done, as I had a deadline looming) but Daphne did her usual swimming and swinging thing.

We also dropped in on my brother- and sister-in-law in Georgetown while we were nearby (leg 3), who both seem to be doing fantastically well. Was great to catch up with them.

And today, Daphne is wrapping up a quick speech therapy session before we hit her last swim class for the week. Actually this is a make-up day, as the pool was ominously closed yesterday for “decontamination.”

And given my squeamishness about handling a used Keurig pod, I really don’t think I want to know what that means.

Talk to you soon.

j.s.

Just Ask the StoryBots

Hey there.

So it seems Little Baby Bum has finally met its match, and is slowly being replaced by the StoryBots. (And there was much rejoicing.)

In essence, StoryBots are little automations that live inside computers and do nothing but help answer questions for inquisitive kids. Things like “Why does night happen?” and “Where do french fries come from?” are standard fare.

The best part about this is that Jen and I have become fans of StoryBots too; the songs are catchy, and the dialogue and animations are often quite clever.

Strangely enough, we actually heard about StoryBots at a “Gamer Parenting Strategy Guide” panel back at the Pregnancy PAX. (I even wrote about it HERE.) After which, Jen and I both forgot about it completely for over 3 years…until last week, when we happened to catch them on Netflix.

Turns out the show was nominated for six Emmys. Who knew?

Anyway, if you have small kids, definitely check out StoryBots. There’s a ton of content on their site, and they even have an app.

Here’s the link to Apple’s App Store

In other news, we’ve been trying to expand Daphne’s gastronomic palate a bit. These past few weeks we’ve successfully added things like nectarines, peanut butter on toast, tortilla chips, and bananas to her diet.

I had had zero success, however, with my attempt to get her to try “hamburoni,” which is an old family recipe.

“Hambi-what? Sure, I’ll try it…”

“Um…on second thought, I’m not really hungry.”

“No. No thank you. Really.”


“Didn’t get the hint, Dad? Fine. Get that hideous gruel away from me before I throw up in it. Not that anyone would notice.”

We’ll work on it.

See you guys next week.

j.s.

In Dependents

Hey there.

So I realize it’s been a while, but honestly there hasn’t been a whole lot new to divulge.

Daph is still doing her swim classes…


She’s getting really good at floating on her back.

and she still has her speech therapy on Mondays and Thursdays which, I’m happy to say, have improved.
I think we’ve all noticed a few more words and/or repetition of sounds from her lately, albeit randomly, which is a wonderful and disorienting shock each time it occurs.
Whether that’s attributable to the lessons or not is up for debate, but they certainly aren’t hurting.

Yesterday was Independence Day, and we had a good part of the family over to grill hot dogs and corn on the cob. The weather, however, had other plans…


This city… Seriously…

And so we boiled the dogs and corn on the stove instead. Regardless, it’s always nice to have family in one place for a while.

Stuck inside on the 4th…

Later, after Daph went to bed, Jen and I eschewed my semi-traditional Independence Day viewing and reading of the Declaration of Independence, and replaced them with a late-night showing of Jaws, which is a vastly superior holiday film on all counts. (Although the editing of that movie is really, really bad…)

And now we have the rest of the week, sans swimming/speech, in which we must come up with clever ways to entertain our daughter while trying to stay cool. We still have another 3 months of 90-100° heat coming, so we’ll be A/C hopping until Octoberish.

I don’t know how long Jen will be able to keep up those monkey sounds..

Okay, see you guys soon.

j.s.

The Life Aquatic

Hey there.

So Daphne is in full swing with her summer regimen. On Mondays she has speech therapy, and I wish there was more to report on that front. Sadly, there hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of movement there. In fact, yesterday was one of the worst vocal stimming days we’ve heard in a while. (For those unaware, kids with autism often make a constant noise while playing/handling things. In Daphne’s case, it sounds like a sustained “uhhhhhhhhh, uhhhhhhhhhh.” This is referred to as “stimming,” a derivative of “stimulus.”)

However, in entirely brighter news, she’s also started swimming lessons.

She goes 4 days a week to the local Texas Swim Academy and she’s doing fantastically. She loves going underwater, she’s getting to the point where she can float on her back by herself, and today she actually kicked and moved her arms underwater for a short way to reach the side of the pool. And all this after just 2 weeks.

The Texas Swim Academy itself is a great little facility, although if we’re being totally honest here I do find the biblical graffiti that’s scrawled all over the walls (in paint pen) a little unsettling. But that’s a tiny issue; the instructors there have been really great.

Honestly, the hardest parts about these swim lessons have been:

1. Getting her to wait in the lobby beforehand. She takes my hand, walks me over to the glass door that leads into the natatorium, and points forcefully at the pool as if to say “Dad. Seriously. What are we doing just standing here? The pool is right there. I’m already in my swimsuit. Do I have to spell this out for you?”

“Come ON! Let’s do this!”

2. Consoling her once they’re over. Each daily session is only 15 minutes long, which goes by in a blink. And when her instructor tells her what a great job she did and that it’s time to get out of the pool, there are often a few tears and protestations. Hey, the little girl loves to swim.

Not today though. Today she wanted to dole out the wet pool hugs.

And better that than the howling shrieks of the other little ones we’ve encountered there, who have ZERO interest in being dunked underwater.

The other great part about these lessons is that we decided to do this as a family. So all of us get in the car every day to drive over to the Swim Academy together. Not only is it huge amounts of fun to watch Daph in the pool, it forces us to get up, get dressed, and get out of the house each day. Whereas otherwise, there isn’t much of a call for such things right now…what with me unemployed and Jen on her summer break.

We’ve gone through enough school breaks to know that if you don’t get up, get going, and do something every day, the summer rockets right by and Jen feels like she missed it, or didn’t make the most of it. So having a daily errand/to-do is a really good thing.

And finally, I want to wish a happy 11th birthday to one Señor Jib.

It was 11 years ago today that I drove him from the cage at the SPCA, and brought him home to my little garage apartment in the Heights, where we became the bestest of friends.

I’d had him about 6 weeks when this picture was taken.

Happy birthday my Jibbous.

Okay, see you guys soon.

j.s.