dad from day one: Parenting a Tongue Tied Baby

Week 5.

I chose not to go public about Jack being tongue tied, maybe in a subconscious attempt to avoid being overwhelmed with polarizing schools of advice before my wife and I had time to assess the situation ourselves and learn what would truly be best for him.  We realized after just the first couple of days after Jack was born that he wasn’t able to feed like other babies.  He could never get a good latch nor could he take more than a few sips of milk before crying and making a gurgling sound.  Actually, I never knew that being tongue tied was a real thing.  I just thought it was a phrase people used to describe momentarily not being able to successfully speak.  In case you haven’t already clicked on the Wikipedia link in the first sentence or already know this, some babies are born with that “skin bridge” attached too closely for them to stick out their tongues very far.

In Jack’s case, it meant extreme difficulty in feeding.  For more extreme cases, a tongue tied baby may grow up to become a child or adult with a speech impediment.  So last Thursday, we drove back to Vanderbilt in Nashville and had Jack’s tongue clipped.  I consider it a 2nd circumcision of sorts.  In fact, I was offered the chance to watch the procedure, so I did.  It was everything you would imagine. Just a few quick cuts.  I highly recommend it if your infant or child is tongue tied.

Since Thursday, the silver coating the doctor sprayed on the lacerations has been slowly peeling off.  So in a few more days, he should be out of pain and be able to begin learning to feed normally, with a tongue that can reach past his lips.  So if you have a tongue tied baby, and you’re asking for my opinion, just get it clipped. It’s no big deal and it sure beats having to wonder how much easier feeding could have been and whether your child will have difficulty speaking.

Which Role Do You Play in Your Family?

As I a guy who doesn’t know anything about cars or building stuff, or even computers, or how to really fix anything, or sports (golf included), or politics, or business (investments and stock market crap), there aren’t seemingly many important roles left for me as a man in a family. 

Sure, I can tell you which actors from Saved by the Bell are Jewish and which songs were hits in 1983 and how tall Albert Einstein was and I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than five minutes every time, but how does that fill any kind of necessary void in family dynamics?

I am a walking Wikipedia with an unforgettable memory of life events, sometimes nearing borderline Asperger’s.  So by default, what is my role in my family of six?  And to see the full picture, what are the roles of each member of my family? (My parents, my sister, her husband, and my wife.)

Me: The storyteller, the writer, the historian, and the event planner.  What drives me are memories.  Good memories take place because of events.  So I enjoy planning the family’s activities. 

I tend to be the one in the family that decides what we will do with our time when we’re all together.  And if I didn’t have an agenda for everyone to follow, it’s possible we would all just sit around and do nothing.  It’s possible we wouldn’t know where to go to eat, and end up settling for something mediocre like Outback or Chili’s. 

But I take the responsibility on myself for the six of us to decide where those memories (including potential funny stories and inside jokes) will take place.  And because “life happens” around food and entertainment and going to new places, my niche is being the one to set the backdrop for those events.

My role doesn’t fall into any of the typical manly stereotypes; I am the Montgomery Moose, the Desmond Hume, the John Cusack, the Pat Sajak.  The host, the MC of the evening, the narrator, the journalist of past, present, and future.  I just can’t fix anything.

My wife: The organized one, the teacher, the nurturer, the listener.

My dad: The mechanic, the electrician, the carpenter.

My mom: The financial expert, the chef, the encourager, the conversationalist.

My sister: The interior decorator, the helper, the initiator.

Her husband: The computer whiz, the tech expert, the sports enthusiast. 

Not that anyone can limit the talents and capabilities of their own family members down to just a few roles.  Because family members are not just stereotypes or TV characters.  They’re family.

What brought all this to mind is by watching the wonderfully crafted sitcom/drama Parenthood.  I love the dynamics of the family and how they all interact.  It hit me that the members of my family all have specific roles like the characters on that show.  And also, it seems the entertainment world is oversaturated with superheroes. 

I just wanted to know what my “superpowers” are.  Now I know. 

(And in case you’re still curious, Screech and Jessie were played Jewish actors, on the show Saved by the Bell.)

Would you, the random or regular reader, be willing to share with me your role and your family members’ roles in your family by leaving a comment below?  This isn’t a clever marketing ploy to boost my numbers or make this post seem more interesting.  I am just truly interested in this topic and want to know what other random family roles are out there. 

Stranger than Deja Vu

Sometimes DJ’s read our minds…

Here’s a unexplainable mystery that has happened to everyone at least once in their lives. I get a random song in my head I haven’t heard or thought of in years, then it comes on the radio later that afternoon. What would cause that DJ to want to play the same random song and what would cause me to happen to listen to that same radio station at the exact same time he played it?

In August of 2007 I was in Dallas for the Great American Trucking Show (made famous from my photo albums on facebook). As I sat down in the hotel lobby to wait for the charter bus to take me to the convention center, The Beatles’ song “Hey Jude” was playing. In particular, it was the end of the song, “Na na na na… hey Jude…”

Ten minutes later I stepped up into the bus and as I found a vibrantly decorated New Mexico–style embroidered seat, the elevator music version of “Hey Jude” was playing. And it just happened to be the end of the song: “Na na na na… hey Jude…”

During my lunch break today I was in a store picking out a card when I heard the worst song ever recorded in history. I’d never heard it before. But it was awful. Sounded like they made up the melody on the spot. Or lack of melody, I should say: “I… miss… you”. Sounded like Amy Grant in the late ‘80’s. As I paid the cashier teen boy, also named Nick, I said, “So the radio station here. Sucks, don’t it?” He politely agreed.

An hour later I’m back at work. I call our legal guy to ask him a question about a title for a vehicle. I’m put on hold. There could only be one song in the universe that plays in elevator music form. Yes. It was “I Miss You”.

This “hear a song on the radio, then the next song I hear is that song, but the elevator music form of it” event has happened to me twice in the last two years. With a little help from some co-workers and a consultation with Wikipedia, I found out more about the worst song ever recorded in history. “I Miss You” was a 1985 hit by a group called Klymaxx.  It’s worse than any song a Hollywood actor recorded during the 5 months they tried to also have a career in music. It’s bad, man. Bad.

Not important in the grand scheme of things, but if nothing else, this “deja vu song” concept sometimes happens to us.  During what would have been another ordinary day. 

Do you, the random or regular reader, have any weird stories like that?  I’m currently collecting them in my mind.  It’s fascinating.  You can leave a comment about it.  I will care.  I will read it.  I will be fascinated.  I want to know this truly doesn’t just happen to me.

healthnutshell: What Exactly is a Doctor, Anyway?

Stupid question, but doctors should outlive their patients, right?


One of my favorite movies of all time is actually a documentary, Super Size Me.  As Morgan Spurlock goes on a 30 day fast food binge, he checks in with the three separate doctors to monitor his health.  But something I always thought about in the back of my mind when I saw one of the doctors in particular was “that doctor needs to go on a diet himself”.

Isn’t there something a bit off about that?  An unhealthy doctor?  A doctor who is in danger of a heart attack?  In my mind, a doctor is an expert on health.  Therefore, he should live out what he knows.

Consider a pastor of a church.  His career is over if he gets caught cheating on his wife (unlike certain celebrities who may lose their marriage over it, but not their careers…).  A pastor is held at a higher standard because of his profession.  Why aren’t doctors live by a higher standard as well?

Just like no one can take seriously a man under the age of 40 with a mustache, I can’t take seriously an unhealthy doctor.

I should find out what exactly a doctor is, according to Wikipedia:

A physician — also known as medical practitioner, doctor of medicine, medical doctor, or simply doctor — practices the ancient profession of medicine, which is concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease or injury.

What’s interesting in this definition is the lack of the word “prevention”.  So it’s a doctor’s job to maintain or restore human health, but not prevent a healthy person from becoming unhealthy.

According to the Wikipedia definition of a doctor and America’s general concept of them, doctors are there to help fix what is broken.  With medicine.

It’s no secret that doctors make money off of people sitting at home watching commercials targeted at unhealthy people who go to the doctor to buy the legal drugs they saw advertised.  I can remember a time, pre-1995, when I didn’t use to see commercials advertising for prescription drugs.  Doctors sell drugs, legally.  To people who, for the most part, were simply uneducated on how to live healthy in the first place.

If I break my nose, have strep throat, get a pregnant wife, or need to get “snipped”, I will go to the doctor.  If not, I do everything I can to avoid that place.  I definitely won’t go there to buy their new product.  I eat an apple a day, literally.

After suffering for years from a rare case of eczema, I did some research on Wikipedia to find out how to be relieved of the disease.  While no known medical cure exists, I followed the advice on Wikipedia and drastically changed my diet, and now, thank God, my skin cleared up on my hands.  Cost me no money and required no doctor’s visit.  Despite many people urging me to go for a visit.  I saved myself time and money.

Doctors are good.  They do their thing.  I do mine.  We already learned that a doctor’s job, according to Wikipedia, does not involve preventing the problem.  So I take it upon myself to do just that: prevent the problem.  So what do you call a person who does that?  I need a clever word for that.  Whatever it is, I am one.  And anyone can be one.

"Dr. H" from The Biggest Loser

As if looming Diabetes and heart disease weren’t enough of a reason to live a life of prevention, consider a new study done on doctors in India, which is said to be true in America as well.  Their average lifespan is around 58 years old for doctors, while the general population lives to be closer to 70 yeas old:

“Stress, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise were the main causes of death in these cases. [Doctors] tend to become obese and are under great stress… Most of them are hypertensive and diabetic. These conditions reduce their chances of living longer.”

Read the full article:

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=3&contentid=201002092010020901523931154144cbf

Typically, medical doctors have stressful jobs that keep them from spending much time with their families.  They don’t make time for exercise or plan healthy meals.  Doctors have easy access to antibiotics and other medical quick fixes.  And of course it’s not uncommon for a doctor to smoke.  Not that any of those traits are unique to just doctors; they actually all sound pretty familiar.

And that’s another reason why I choose to live like a nutritionist, not a doctor.  My role models?  Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dr. Huizenga (“Dr. H.” from The Biggest Loser.  Seventh Day Adventists.  Kosher diet abiding Jews.  My dad.

They are my doctors, with or without the M.D.

Rubik’s Cube Syndrome: Preventing Death by Boredom

So it turns out, there is a such thing as dying of boredom.  Therefore, I always have to be thinking.  Because seriously, there is always a new puzzle to solve.

Being that I’ve been writing for a website since August 2005 and have been averaging around 3 or more new posts a week, I have been routinely asked, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” and “How do you always have something new to write about?”.  The answer, my mind never really shuts off.

Some people’s minds never shut off because they continue to be overwhelmed with all the things they have to get done.  Some constantly worry about all the things they have no control over.  Not me.  I, instead, am constantly entertaining the random thoughts that float up to the surface.  Then I get near a computer.

But if I were to sit down in a therapist’s chair and really let my guard down and spill my guts, the psychiatrist would learn that I have a fear of being bored.  It’s more of an obsession of staying constantly entertained so that I can never enter a second of boredom.

I have these boring dreams sometimes where I realize I am dreaming and tell myself to wake up.  Seconds literally seem like hours in a dream. Usually, if I tell myself in the dream to lift my head off the pillow in real life, it works, and I wake up from the boring dream.

Maybe this is common knowledge, or maybe it’s an epiphany, but boredom is totally motivational.  Popular games and sports, great inventions, and stupid crimes are often born out of boredom.

For me, it all probably started when I was a small kid.  Kids have to do a lot of waiting around.  A couple of the children’s day care centers I attended were torture.  The ones without good, organized activities.  It must have been then that I learned to keep myself entertained under any and at times.  I never realized that until this exact second.

I wasn’t at all surprised last week when I came across this article saying that a new study shows that boredom can be just as dangerous to a person’s health as stress.  It is pretty easy to think of examples of older people who died shortly after they retired.  The first 2 that come to mind:

Paul “Bear” Bryant died on January 25, 1983.  That was 28 days after he retired from coaching the University of Alabama’s football team.  And actor Peter Boyle, who played Raymond’s dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, died the year after the show ended.

And surely we can all think of a senior citizen who died only weeks or months after their aged spouse passed away.  It’s sweet to think about, that one couldn’t go on without the other.  But it’s even more interesting after reading this article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35328113/ns/health-heart_health/ns/health-heart_health/

I’m starting to realize that I evidently have a subconscious goal to memorize Wikipedia.  My regurgitation of the knowledge I learn there helps keep me entertained at all times.  Even while I’m being entertained.  Like the ultimate “picture in picture” experience.  Or Pop-Up Video.

For example, Friday night I watched the first 20 minutes of Meet the Fockers when ABC aired it (to whet peoples’ appetites for the next sequel, Little Fockers, which comes out this December).  During the opening credits/first 5 minutes of the movie, I pointed out to my wife all the Jews associated with making the movie:

*Note: If there is a “?” next to the person’s name, it means I am not yet able to verify for a fact if they are Jewish, but based on their name alone, they most likely are.  In other words, Jewish until proven Gentile.

Actors: Ben Stiller (Jewish), Dustin Hoffman (Jewish), Barbara Streisand (Jewish), Blythe Danner (mother of Gwenyth Paltrow, was married to the now deceased Bruce Paltrow, who was Jewish)

Music by: Randy Newman (Jewish)

Directed by: Jane Rosenthal (Jewish?) and Nancy Tenenbaum (Jewish?)

Written by: John Hamburg (Jewish?), Jim Herzfeld (Jewish?), and John Hyman (Jewish?)

Distributed by: Universal Studios- which was founded by Carl Laemmle (Jewish) and Dreamworks- which is headed up by Stephen Spielburg (Jewish), David Geffen (Jewish), and Jeffrey Katzenberg (Jewish?)

And this is interesting because less than 2% of Americans are Jewish.  To get a better idea of what a small number that is, Asian-Americans make up 4% of our nation’s population, and African-Americans represent 12%.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-kY

When I watch a movie, I am constantly seeing numbers and words surrounding each actor.  The actor’s height, hometown, and ethnicity.  I get an enhanced experience.

Recently I watched Hope Floats with my wife and here’s what I saw on the screen as soon as I saw Harry Connick, Jr:

6’ 1”

New Orleans, LA

Half Irish, Half Jewish

That is a glimpse at how my mind works.  And how I see everyday life.  Kinda like those Bing commercials about information overload.  When I hear a noun, my mind instantly pulls up the most notable memory from my own life and combines it with other interesting, random facts about it as well.

Last summer, a guy I graduated high school with named Kenneth Snipes, told me in a facebook wall comment that I could take the word “phone book” and write an interesting post about it.  I’m open to the idea.

In the 5th grade, one of my many favorite TV shows was The Dick Van Dyke Show (via Nick at Nite).  I remember an episode where Buddy (played by Morey Amsterdam, who was Jewish) told some people at a party that he could tell a joke with any word someone gives him.  So a lady said “horse”.  This was his joke:

If everybody in America owned a horse, the nation would be more stabilized.

If Buddy can do it with jokes, then I can do it with my writing.  I take requests.  In the form of a comment, just list a subject that you would like for me to expound on.  If I personally know you, I will attempt to also incorporate a memory I have of you in the writing.

See what my Rubik’s Cube of a brain spits out.  I will turn it into a story that will arguably be interesting and educational.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on boredom, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one