Thursday, May 31, 2007

We had a really terrific Memorial day weekend. I've posted pictures from Sunday's picnic-party on Flickr.

But the big news is that today we attended the premier party for Elizabeth's big movie debut! That's right, our little girl is a star. One of the nurse practitioners at our health care center, who has trained hundreds of health care workers to administer the Brazelton exam on newborns, has started her own program, which is a simplified variation on the Brazelton, called Help, Understand, and Guide your baby (The H.U.G.). Since she's had great success with new mothers and health care workers, she decided to take her program Hollywood. We were asked to participate in a training video, and Elizabeth, at just a few weeks old, was one of a number of local babies to be videotaped for a temperament assessment. It was one of the more fun experiences we had in those early weeks, and what we learned from it made a big difference in how we were able to read e-baby's behavior.

And now, a few months later, Jan has finished videoing babies and has released her DVD! It is intended mainly for new parents, but also for health care workers and infant caregivers. At the Big Movie Premier today, we got together with all the other babies who were in the DVD (and all the practitioners at our health care center) and watched it together. The babies were all in good spirits for 15 minutes of cake and socializing, 15 minutes of Jan's speech about how she started the H.U.G.S. program (20 years in the making!), and the first 19 minutes of the 20-minute DVD viewing. The babies got a little antsy during closing credits. It was wonderful to see how much bigger and more animated these babies are now, compared to when the video was made.

You can order a copy for yourself, or if baby educational videos aren't your thing, you can go watch a clip on the website to see what a superstar e-baby is. Fabulous!

And Lizard, there's already a copy of the DVD on its way to your house. :-) e-baby can autograph it when we come out in August!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I hope everyone is having a good holiday weekend! We're making the most of it by doing lots of weekend-y things.

Yesterday I used my 10% Target shopping day card thingie (you get one for every $10M spent at Target or something) and bought every single thing that I could possibly need in the next 3 months and a few things nobody needs. Among the booty: 5 colorful plastic pint tumblers that e-baby thinks are The Awesome; 168 diapers, size 3 (for reference, they stay in size 3's for about 16 years so stock up once you get to that size); a cubic foot of baby wipes; a 5x7 frame for SNG's office; mom and dad's birthday present (which I won't reveal here because, you know, they read this blog!); 2 boxes of organic baby oatmeal; an iPod USB charger for work; some stationary for e-baby to write letters to people whenever she wants; etc. I love going to Target. I won't step foot into a WalMart if I can possibly help it. If we had Costco here, I'd be over the moon. Go figure.

When I unloaded all our Target goodies yesterday, I opened one of the Pampers boxes and look at the free gift with purchase I found inside!

After Targetfest, we(SNG) did some yardwork since we had 2 big, dead trees and one old dead stump removed last week so the yard has a divet about the size of a mature sourwood tree across it. Ours was only about 40-50 feet, but that's a lot of loose bark to rake away.

Now we're cooking ribs (what a coincidence!) because we'll be having a pre-Memorial day picnic with a few friends later on today. After hemming-and-hawing over which city/state park we should go, it was determined that my house, with its clean toilets and indoor climatization, would be an ideal location. Which suits me fine, since I like nothing better than having friends over. Even more so now that we have a cleaning service again.

For a few weeks things were sketchy around here-- one invoked the 30-second rule at their own risk.

As it gets warmer, we have to be careful not to slam any exterior doors or windows because our outdoor pets are returning.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

*edited to add: We've got a few new youtube baby videos out there, you know, for the grandparents. Or anyone who feels like watching. Like me, when I should be working.

E-baby has been practicing and can making fairly good time getting across the room. Her crawling style is a bit unorthodox, though. She uses both hands but always has one foot flat on the ground, like walking, and the other leg bent at the knee like crawling. This one-knee-and-one-foot technique, while propelling her further per stride than traditional two-knee crawling, gives the visual impression of a tiny pirate with a wooden leg. When she says "yarrrh" it gets eerie.

In the wake of this new ability to transport herself, I am learning a lot more about what's on her mind. I've learned, for instance, that she wants to be on top of everything. If she and I sit together on the floor, she'll climb onto my legs (base camp 1), up to my lap (base camp 2), to my shoulder, grab the bill of my ballcap with her jaws and belay up to the top of my head (the summit) where she takes a few pictures, checks her cell phone reception and calls for a helicopter to carry her back down again. She does the same to SNG, but not in winter as the sherpas are expensive that time of year.

(As an aside, right now she wants to type her own blog post.)

I've learned that she likes everything that's dirty: shoes, trash bins, baseboards.

This morning as I was making breakfast, I put e-baby on the kitchen floormats to play. I crossed the kitchen to pour my coffee (Thump-swisshh, Thump-swisshh, Thump-swisshh) there's e-baby climbing my ankle. I crossed back to make my omelette (Thump-swisshh, Thump-swisshh) and soon her head rests on the back of my calf. I crossed to the fridge (Thump-swisshh, Thump-swisshh) and she blocks the refrigerator door. Once I finished dealing with steaming-hot-magma and coffee, I picked her up and she put my entire nose in her mouth and said "BBBRRRRPPPPP!!" I put her down, grabbed my breakfast plate and walked towards the kitchen table (Thump-swisshh, Thump-swisshh).

It's close enough to "pitter-patter" for me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

So I'll have to assume that since J&K are silent on the issue of visiting Genoa next year, they are either:
away from the computer this week and didn't see the post,
away from the computer because they were kidnapped and didn't see the post,
away from the computer because they were kidnapped by crazed Alabama militia types who are depriving them of internet access, forcing J to fashion an escape vehicle from cardboard toilet paper tubes and empty Skoal cans and didn't see the post,
they don't want to go to Genoa.

Perhaps the same is true for Isabelle and Le Chef? At any rate, I'm still considering making a trip across the pond sometime in 2008, assuming I get around to having e-baby's passport done. I have the paperwork, but SNG and I have to be there together to do it and that's a bit trickier during the work week.

So, on to other things. We had a fabulous weekend. The weather was beautiful, we had a nice bike ride on Sunday, and Peace & Fuzzy returned from their honeymoon Sunday as well so we're no longer DOTi-sitting. Too bad, because e-baby actually calls DOTi by name. It seems to be her first "word." It comes out "De-dah" and she says it whenever DOTi comes in the room. So cute.

That's not her only new trick:

Oh, yes- things are about to get interesting. Time to child-proof the house.

Friday, May 18, 2007

SNG and I bought a few CDs of old Joy Division stuff a few months ago, and one of the album covers had this interesting B&W picture of people in mourning. On closer inspection, I realized that it was a sculpture from this cemetery. The picture was so intriguing that I had to find out more about this place. Here is someone else's picture of that same sculpture. I trawled around the website looking at these pictures and was awestruck. The funerary sculptures range from poignant to odd, passing through spooky and occasionally arriving at downright freaked out. Most of the scultpures have such realism that you almost see them blink, but more than just realistic they have that something that gives them movement of a sort. It reminds me of how I feel looking at the Nike of Samothrace (or Winged Victory, depending on who your art history teacher was): I can just barely hear the salty ocean waves crashing up on the great warrior goddess.

If you click on Photogallery from the main page, you will be able to select areas of the cemetery to see pictures of. Most areas have multiple pages, so this is potentially fun for hours.

Better than sit and look at it on the internet forever, shouldn't we visit this place? J&K, it sounds like your kind of sightseeing. What do you say? Next summer (2008), group trip to Genoa? Or, since it's coastal, perhaps springtime (when it's less crowded)? Anyone else up for a quick trip to Italy? Of course, stopovers in France and Germany are recommended! Isabelle, this isn't all that far from you by car, is it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I added the pictures from the San Jose trip here. There are a lot of them because we sort of did four days' sightseeing in two days, so you might look at them in batches. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I forgot to mention it last week, but we have been in San Jose since Wednesday. That explains the silence around here. SNG took a few days of vacation and flew out with e-baby and me. E-baby traveled as well as you can expect for a 7-month old confined to a carseat for many hours at a time. She flirted with everybody.

The trip was a whirlwind. Wednesday we flew all day, checked into the hotel, found a grocery store, chowed a quick pizza and called it a night. Thursday I did a conference and SNG played "driving miss e-baby" around San Jose. By the time he picked me up, his eyes had that maniacal, vaguely deer-in-headlights look I'm familiar with that comes of spending the entire day driving around in the car with a baby.

Friday we drove up to Bolinas and found SNG's grandmother's old house-- at least, we think it was her house. We took a few pictures from the driveway and a lady sent her dog out and then came out with a phone looking menacing and before I had a chance to ask whether it was SNG's grandmother's old house, SNG drove away looking guilty enough to justify the call to the police.

From Bolinas, we went lunch in Stinson Beach and then on to Muir Woods for a hike among the giant redwood trees. It was spectacular. Trees 10 feet across at the base and 1500+ years old can make you feel very small. There are some nice pictures that I'll upload soon.

On the way back from Marin county we stopped in San Francisco at Tadich Grill for (what else?) cioppino. It was worth the $10 for parking. It might have been worth the speeding ticket I got on the way back to San Jose.

Early Saturday morning we walked from the hotel 5 blocks to catch a bus to the CalTrain station, and then rode the train up to Atherton to do breakfast with my aunt. We had such a nice visit, and SNG had never been to her house so he got to see her beautiful gardens for the first time. It was wonderful to catch up with her. The blessing and the curse of a spread-out family are that there's someone to visit almost everywhere, but there's never enough time to see them and in a big family, there are just that many more people to miss.

From Atherton, we took the train another hour into San Fran, caught a bus 6 or 7 blocks, walked another 15 or so to the Ferry building farmer's market, where we bought a nibble of this and a bite of that for lunch: four kinds of sheep's milk cheeses, a loaf of walnut-wheat bread, some smoked ribs, fruits and veggies, gumbo... topped off with a few chocolates at See's. And by then it was time to go back, so we hoofed it the whole 20-25 blocks to the train station where we caught a 90-minute train back and then a bus and then walk 5 blocks to the hotel to meet up with PIC and LeBon and c-baby who were coincidentally in town on Saturday. We had a great time at a little Italian place, where the baby girls could tell their baby jokes and laugh together.

To continue the theme of 5-straight-days-in-transit, we flew all day today to get home. E-baby has been in a reasonably good mood all day, except that she will not go to sleep tonight.

Oh, and if you were wondering what DOTi was up to in our absence, she left a diary on Dianaverse's blog. See the May 9-11 entries. And THANK YOU, Dianaverse!!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Today, the new silicone ice trays I ordered arrived, which means I can start making more baby food and freezing it. This isn't because I'm some kind of ultra-frugal domestic wonder, although if you've ever seen me in jam-making mode throughout the summer and fall, you might argue with that. No, the reason I want to make some of e-baby's food myself is that I want her to eat the same kind of stuff that we eat, so we don't have to go get her chicken nuggets or pizza all the time. And because frankly, prepared baby food selections are pathetic. They reflect the diet of Americans circa 1971. Here's what I can find:
green beans
butternut squash*
sweet potatoes*
apples, pears, peaches**
chicken, turkey, lamb***
something called "breakfast griddle"****

She eats a lot of carrots, green beans and peas. And she's not crazy about the carrots. There are a few mixed/garden/variety vegetable baby foods that are basically some combination of those and maybe 1 or 2 other things and she eats those. And she eats a lot of babyfood oatmeal and rice cereal.

But thanks to mom's home-cooking, her diet is more varied and interesting than the same old peas, carrots, green beans all the time. I make her avocado, zucchini and yellow squash. I let her play with whole foods like apple slices, broccoli and asparagus. I know not to make her carrots, spinach, or collards because of nitrate poisoning. But I like collards so as soon as she's old enough, she gets those, too. And okra. As summer goes on, I'll make e-baby purees of whatever we're getting at the farmer's market and freeze little cubes of it in my fancy new silicone ice trays.

Today I made a puree of fresh, ripe avocado mixed with babyfood peas and water. I gave a spoonful to e-baby and she squealed. Then she yelled until I gave her more.

In other e-baby news, she had her first swimming lesson yesterday. It wasn't so much a swimming lesson as a "get your baby in the pool and blow bubbles at her until she puts her face in the water" lesson. We had a good time and afterwards, e-baby slept for 2 hours. She was pooped! Here's a picture:

Yes, it's a boring blog post but I might want to remember that avocado puree recipe later so I had to write it. Thanks for reading. :-)

* e-baby seems to be allergic to these, so no-go. Although she finds them delicious.
** I will let her have her fill of fruit in a month or so, but I'm establishing veggies first so that she doesn't reject them later
*** we're not doing meat until she's at least a year old. Even then, I don't know whether I can handle changing a carnivore's diaper. Just, eewe.
**** this scares me. It's basically eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes and waffles all pureed into one big, trans-fat-filled mush.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Congratulations to Peace & Fuzzy, and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today was Peace and Fuzzy's wedding day. It was, with the possible exception of a legendary March wedding back in 1995, one of the most over-the-top raucous, fun weddings I've ever been to. From rehearsal dinner to the last dance at the reception, we had non-stop fun. Jess was the prettiest bride in North Carolina today.

I'm not very good with a camera, but I loved this picture. That's Peace's mom in the foreground.
After the dinner at the reception, we brought e-baby out to have some fun on the dance floor. The bridal party wore purple, so e-baby wore purple in solidarity. I liked this mommy-baby picture, too.
We ate and danced and talked and didn't want the night to end. Then we went home, gave e-baby a bath, put her in bed, and watched Scrubs re-runs.

A perfect end to a perfect Saturday.

Here's some footage from the dance floor. There's an inside joke regarding that song: WheneverPeace and Fuzzy are grocery shopping at the neighborhood supermarket, it always plays over the PA system. Peace has a special dance she does down the aisle. I've seen it. It's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Anyone need a trip booked? I'm on a ROLL!

*edited to add: I have updated Flickr with April pictures clicky here or on the Flickr badge.

As you know, my BFF Lizard is a mere 5 weeks away (plus-or-minus 2 weeks) from having her baby girl, and that means it's time for my mom and me to plan our trip out west to fill her fridge with casseroles and coo over the baby. That, and e-baby and miss-c will need to bond.

So in looking at dates, long story short, mid-August looked good so I started hunting for airfare and called mom:

ME: We fly out on the 9th, meet up in San Diego, and fly home on the 13th.
MOM: That works, and we also wanted to come see you this summer.
ME: Well, how about you fly back to NC with me, and dad can fly out and meet us?
MOM: That'd work. What's the rest of your summer schedule like?
ME: I have a trip to DC at the end of August. Too bad y'all can't be here for that because you both want to go see the museums and monuments and...
MOM: Wait!! I got it!! Your dad doesn't like long trips, so how about I stay in NC a couple of weeks and then your dad can fly out on the 25th, just in time for us to all go up to DC and take care of e-baby while you're at work and...
ME: Wait!! Even better! Isabelle and Le Chef will be here starting on September 2! Why don't you stay until the 4th so you can see them??
ME: BRILLIANT! It's the perfect storm of trips.

Since I have tons of airline points I decided to book part of mom's airfare that way. I knew this would be complicated, so I called the stupid airline help line with the stupid automated voice-recognition system, and after somehow convincing it that I was going to Acapulco, I got an agent on the line. I explained the situation: want to book a ticket from Austin to SoCal to NC to Austin over a 4-week span.

ME: Can I do any of this with points?
AGENT: Let me see... hmm... if I carry the one... move the tag to the left... You'll have to fly to NC on the 14th because there's nothing on the 13th... Yes. I can put it all on one award ticket.
AGENT: Yes. The whole thing.
ME: Now, you know I mean AUS to SAN to RDU to AUS?
AGENT: Yes, that's the one
ME: And all on one award ticket? For the normal number of points?
AGENT: No. For the super-saver number of points.
ME: HOLLY CARP! I'm doing the happy dance.
AGENT: You know, if you were to pay for this trip, it'd be about $700.
ME: Happy bargain dance!

I happy-danced the whole way home. Then I booked mine and e-baby's tickets.

In other news, e said "Dada" for the first time today. BIG sigh of relief in this house, as she's mostly said "Mama" for the past 2 months or so and SNG was beginning to feel slighted. But I know she's crazy about him because when he comes in, she opens her mouth in a 2-tooth grin, goes BOUNCE-BOUNCE-BOUNCE and says "SQUEEEE!"

In other-other news, this Saturday is Peace and Fuzzy's wedding (congrats, you crazy kids!) and while they're in Hawaii on their honeymoon, we're DOTi-sitting for 2 weeks. DOTi is a very cool little dog and always has a good time here at Camp Windy Woods. This time she will love the strained peas, carrots, green beans...