Monday, July 14, 2014


Story time.

I was visiting my in-laws in South Carolina. Outside their dining room window there are several bird feeders my mother-in-law Karen keeps well stocked. She enjoys watching the birds. She does not enjoy watching the squirrels eat all the bird food. There are like four bird feeders, and all of them came advertised as "squirrel proof." Dirty lies.

By the window she keeps a daisy pump action BB gun. She uses it to scare off the squirrels. She'll crack open the window and pop off a shot. The squirrels will scatter, but they always end up coming back.

I thought it would be fun to shoot one of the squirrels. Karen assured me the BB gun didn't hurt the squirrels, that it would just startle them and get them away from the bird feeders. I cracked the window, aimed at a squirrel greedily filling his face with sunflower seeds three feet away, and pulled the trigger.

My mother in law does not know how to use her Daisy BB gun. She never had one as a kid growing up. She never learned that you need to have the safety on when you loaded the BB's in and cock the gun, otherwise they don't go into the chamber. She had never actually fired a BB at any of the squirrels.

I nailed the sucker. Pow. It fell to the ground and started squeaking. Oh god. It was terrible. It didn't stop. I felt sick. I didn't know what to do because I'm not a vet. I'm just a terrible person. I hoped it was just stunned and scared and that it would get better. I went outside picked it up in a grocery bag and moved it to the base of a tree because I thought that it would recover faster if it were in its natural environment. I went back inside and decided I would check on it again in 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later.

The squirrel was not getting better. It wasn't moving. It was just lying there, still at the base of the tree. I knew I had to man up and finish the job. I went back inside and got the BB gun. I apologized to the squirrel, put the the barrel an inch from terrified, little head, and shot him a second time.

Again, the squirrel did not die. Again, it started squeaking. A tiny bead a blood welled up on the side of his head. He squeaked. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Why are you shooting me? Squeak. I didn't know what to do. There was a cinder block nearby. I ran and grabbed it, held it over the squirrel, and dropped it.

So the ground by the tree is soft. There's grass and soil and it's not very hard. So if you drop a cinder block from about five feet above the ground onto the ground there's a lot of give. Like, enough give that if there were a squirrel between the ground and the cinder block, the squirrel would not be crushed to death. It would probably get a concussion or break multiple bones in its frail little body, but it wouldn't die. Squeak squeaksqueaksqueak "I'm sorry!" squeak squeaksqueak "Sorry!"

I picked up the cinder block again and threw it down this time, hoping my strength and gravity and the cinder block's mass would be enough to finally put this poor animal out of its misery. Squeak squeak squeak.

I'm on my knees. I'm raising the cinder block above my head and bringing it down again and again and I'm sorry God, I'm sorry squirrel, I'm sorry I'm sorry down, down, my hands covered in dirt and fur and blood, down, dead. No squeak.

I left the cinder block on top of the squirrel. Jennifer needed to go to Wal-Mart and I needed to go find a therapist who accepted walk-ins. We got home and Karen's dog had dug the squirrel out from under the cinder block and carried it back into the living room. Because it hadn't suffered enough indignity that day. I found the grocery bag I had used earlier, wrapped it up, and threw it away.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Taking Care of Lawson

At night, Lawson sleeps at the foot of our bed in his little pack and play crib thing. Sometimes he gets a little fussy and will grunt and whine without actually waking up. It's hard to tell if he'll just go back to sleep or not, or if he's awake and getting ready to cry, or if he's drowning in his own spit up, or has a dirty diaper that's bothering him, or what. It's times like these I like to play Baby Chicken with Jennifer and Lawson. It's like regular chicken where you go as long as you can before one player flinches. In this case, the loser is the person he gets nervous enough about the sounds he's making and checks on him. Guess who wins more often, Tyson or Jennifer?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Lawson just peed in Jennifer's eye. She leaned in close to blow some of the excess baby powder off his butt while we were changing him and, wham-o, right in the eye ball. Nice job kid. Now hurry up and finish feeding so we can go back to bed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What It's Like Being a New Parent

I've only been a parent for 72 hours now, but my knowledge of what it's like and what it means to be a parent has increased by an amount that in no way reflects a mere 3 days passage of time. Here is a list of some of the things I've learned.

If Lawson is crying, it is because:
A) he is hungry
B) he has a wet/stinky diaper
C) he is gassy
D) he wants to be held
E) something he is wearing is bothering him
F) he's too hot/cold
G) some other reason

If it's G, you're out of luck and in a bad way. It was 3am at the hospital and Lawson is crying. Not the cute, quiet cry he usually does when he's being fussy. It is an inconsolable wail and Jennifer and I have no idea why he's making that sound. We've stripped him naked, Jennifer's holding him skin to skin on her chest and trying to stick a boob in his mouth but he is only interested in yelling. Maybe his brain just figured out how to yell, and he was practicing doing it. He didn't need much practice though to get really good at it, and we apologize to our hospital neighbors for his innate skill and for our lack of innate parenting skill. Eventually he stopped. We don't know why. But in case you look at the picture below and are tempted to think "oh my, what a perfect baby", think again. Sometimes he yells for no gosh darn reason and it's terrible.

Watching his first episode of The Simpsons
We read online that you shouldn't give your baby a pacifier until 3 months because it will mess with him learning how to breast feed. We were all set to go nipple only. Then we learned that if Lawson was crying at night, if you put a pacifier in his mouth he would stop. We were quick to compromise on theoretical suggestions from in the face of practical results. We were also quick to redefine "expert advice" to "theoretical suggestions" based on whether or not we were acting on it.

Pacifier at the ready
We've also learned that swaddling clothes, or baby straight jackets as they should be marketed, are required baby items. Lawson kicks and flails and tweaks out pretty much the entire time he's either sleeping or awake. It's kind of fun to watch him spaz, but not so much when it's at 2am and he wakes himself up because he just hit himself in the face. (Lawson's other favorite thing to do, besides sleep and eat, is to claw his face. Baby strait jackets also help with this bad habit of his). He also likes to feel like he's being held while sleeping, and swaddling clothes trick him into thinking he is so mom and dad can get some sleep.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Welcome to Our Family, Lawson

On Thursday, Jennifer and I went to her OBGYN.  The doctors there were wanting to check up on her twice a week as she neared her due date, April 22. We saw Mary Beth, her favorite midwife (the practice we went to has both doctors and midwives. The doctor/midwife who delivers is whoever is on call that day), and had her cervix examined. She had gone from 1 cm on Monday to 3cm, which had Jennifer very excited as she was happy about the idea of getting her body back and not having everything  (back, feet, lady parts, etc) hurt anymore.

Look at the size of that thing

Later that evening, Jennifer and I went on a half mile walk around our neighborhood. It was around 6pm and Jennifer’s contractions started happening more frequently, but were still not regular or painful. We went to bed, half expecting to need to get up at some point in the middle of the night to go to the hospital. Thankfully, we didn’t need to and I got a good night’s sleep. Jennifer didn’t, but she hasn’t had a decent sleep for two weeks now so that wasn’t anything new. Around 8am Jennifer’s contractions started becoming painful. We called the OBGYN and they told us it was “go time” and to head to the hospital. 
Happy because she has no idea what's coming

We got into our room and the nurse checked Jennifer again. She was very uncomfortable at this point, so we weren’t very surprised when the nurse told us she was 5cm. Unbeknownst to us, our nurse wasn’t an active duty type nurse. From what we could gather through hedged comments later, she was more of a coordinator nurse type. All the pregnant ladies in the area decided they wanted their babies to be born on Good Friday, so the staff at the Snuggery (the Glens Falls Hospital Maternity Ward) was spread thinner than usual. They sent Jennifer’s blood work to the lab where it would need to be tested before the anesthesiologist could give her an epidural.

Fifteen minutes later things became very unpleasant for Jennifer. Like, screaming, flailing arms, bite down on a wallet or belt or husband’s arm or else you’ll bite your tongue off unpleasant. Another fifteen minuets later, one of the doctors from her OBGYN (Dr. Guido) was on the floor for another patient and heard her yelling. He came in, did another inspection, and called her at 8cms. The anesthesiologist hadn’t been sent for yet, and they were still waiting for her blood work. Dr. Guido left to go see if he could find a way to expedite the process because on the pain scale, Jennifer was an 11.

It took almost an hour from when they took Jennifer’s blood work for the anesthesiologist to arrive. Jennifer was braver and stronger than about 98% of all men or women during that hour. She would have a contraction, be in what I can only assume to be the worst pain of her life, then spend 3 minutes catching her breath and apologizing for yelling so loud. Thankfully, the anesthesiologist finally arrived, stuck Jennifer in the back, and her pain quickly subsided. But not before she had successfully terrified all the other expecting mothers in the Snuggery who had wanted their babies on Good Friday but now probably didn’t want them at all.

Dr. Guido came back in and found Jennifer fully dilated. We could have started the pushing then, but we wanted to give the baby a little while to work out the Nubain they gave Jennifer while waiting for the epidural. And Jennifer wanted to wait for Mary Beth, who was on call that evening. Around 4pm, Jennifer and Mary Beth decided it was time to start the actual pushing portion. They broke her water and found a small amount of meconium. They weren’t too worried though as it wasn’t very thick and commenced with the pushing. Jennifer’s mom Karen and I helped Jennifer into a variety of unladylike positions as Mary Beth guided and stretched and coached her through her labor. Afterward, Karen (an RN herself) explained Mary Beth had done an excellent job through the whole delivery, and had given Jennifer more attention and care than all of her previous doctors for her five deliveries combined.

Around 6pm the labor was wrapping up. The baby’s head had been visible for a while and was finally making its way down and out. It finally crowned and I got to see the head come out from my position of holding Jennifer’s knee up to her belly. The hairy top of his head came out and kept coming. And coming. And coming. Still no face. I’ve seen several birth videos and documentaries but and I knew the head came out misshapen but I swear this was the longest and strangest looking one ever. At last his face came out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. Mary Beth noted it, got her fingers between it and his neck, and got some space between the two before Jennifer pushed him any further out. I’m not sure if the umbilical cord being there was a high risk or dangerous or whatever. I would naturally think it might be, but the way Mary Beth was so cool and calm about the whole thing made it all seem normal. 

Worth the wait? Only time will tell...

After two more strong pushes, Jennifer squeezed out Lawson Worth VanDerwerken at 6:18pm. He came out gross. Not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen by any means. Also, he was too blue for the liking of the nurses and grunting so they took him over to their newborn station and starting working on fixing him up. His arm was in front of his face during the delivery so it needed a lot of coaxing and rubbing to get the blood circulating to his hand. Also, he had swallowed some of the meconium and was having trouble expanding his lungs all the way until the nurses sucked out his airways with a vacuum. The nurses didn’t look too worried at any point though, so Jennifer and I patiently waited 30 minutes while the nurses worked their magic and Mary Beth sewed up some small tearing Jennifer had on the way out. 

He doesn't know it yet, but he loves dinosaurs

All in all, we couldn’t be happier. Jennifer is healthy, Lawson is healthy. We’ll be heading home tomorrow and are grateful for the newest member of our family. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Meal Planning

By Jennifer

I’m always asking Tyson what he wants for dinner because I want him to have what he wants and I don’t want to make something he doesn’t like. The response I usually get is either “I don’t know, whatever you feel like making” or “I’ll think about it and let you know later.” When I ask him ‘later’ I’ll either get the first response “I don’t know, whatever you feel like making” or he’ll suggest something that required forethought (like defrosting chicken or picking up something on the way home from work) which is why I asked him early on what he wanted so I could do those things if necessary. Now it’s dinner time and we have nothing to work with.

(To be fair A-Tyson is not a picking eater B-like me he also wants me to have what I want and C- he doesn’t like me having to go out of my way to do anything for him so I think that’s why I get the “whatever you feel like making response”)

This Sunday is fast Sunday so last night I asked him what he wanted for Sunday dinner. I know he’s going to be starving and I want to make sure we have everything we need in order to make whatever he wants. He told me “that’s days away don’t worry about it”. The last time I listened to this Sunday meal advice we had to scavenge and ended up eating this:
Not very appetizing at all, which I know is surprising considering its spam like qualities... (Jennifer is being kind here. This was God awful. I wanted to put exactly what came to mind for what it tasted like, but I was overruled because kids might read this blog and Jennifer didn't want them learning any of those phrases from me. If you want to know what they were, text me sometime).

This morning we were having breakfast and I asked him what he wanted for dinner tonight and he laughed. So I told him he could be in charge of dinner for the next week. He agreed and promised me that we wouldn’t starve. I told him I’m not afraid of starving during the next week, I’m afraid of severely depleting our food storage and eating top-ramanator like meals for the next 7 days…I usually pack my lunch for work, but I may be eating out for the next week.

Picture of a top-ramanator from Tyson’s Facebook page with the quote: “(Mashed potatoes+cheddar+bacon+turkey+tomatoe+avacado+egg+ramen brick)between two slices of bread= best sandwich ever.”

(It's true. It is the best sandwich ever)