Thursday, February 28, 2008

O's Os, Part 2

I really felt like a parent this morning when I stepped on a stray Oatio this morning - not in the kitchen, mind you, but at the top of the stairs, by our bedroom.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Them's fightin' words

Elkridge Hollerer news favorite Hugo Chávez recently launched a new campaign against US "imperialism", this time in the form of English-language words at the state phone company.

I'm glad to see Chávez taking up the anti-English theme, which is a perennial favorite of mine. After all, how many times can we really hear the French exhort against le weekend or l'e-mail? But I am a little concerned that Chávez himself might be affected by this push. Will he have to change the name of his call-in TV show, "Aló Presidente"? Will he still be able to rail against yanquis?

I think I get a chuckle out of this issue because as an English-speaker, I have the moral high ground. 1066 and the subsequent couple of centuries: That was linguistic imperialism.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

El Primero O

A few weeks ago, we introduced Owen to cheerios. Except, of course, being the typeA mom that I am, we bought him froo-froo organic cheerios instead of the regular kind. He tried one, made an awful face, and hasn’t tried eating one in weeks. Never mind that he puts EVERYTHING else in his mouth. He’ll play with them on his high chair tray, scooting them around, crushing them with his mighty fists, and dropping them for the cats, but not eating them. Today, however, he picked one up (with a pincer grasp, no less) and put it in his mouth. He gummed it for awhile then swallowed it. No gagging, just an expression of puzzlement. Then he proceeded to crushing them again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

2th 2

Mystery solved. I think Friday’s sleep disturbance was related to the arrival of tooth #2. Owen slept like a champ Saturday and Sunday night. He also took a nap at a duckpin bowling alley, which is pretty impressive as it’s not particularly quiet there. I guess the only other O news of the month is that he got sick for the first time earlier this month – pinkeye! He seemed to weather it pretty well and is back to his normal self.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sleeping update and 2 firsts

The mystery of Friday night's poor sleep has been solved. All hail the arrival of tooth #2! O's other lower front tooth has just shown itself, so I'm chalking up his regression to teething. Last night he slept like a champ.

Today he had 3 firsts -
1. His first foray into the kitchen cabinet, leading to 75% of our plastic tupperware being removed from the cabinet
2. His first unrolling of toilet paper in the bathroom into a pile, which he thought was the best ever
3. He tried to pitch head first off the couch - he's used to flinging himself forward from a sitting position to get in pseudo-crawling mode. Doing this while sitting on the couch is not recommended. Fortunately, TBHE was there to catch him

OK, the sleeper awakes

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sleepin’. Or not.

So a few months ago, Owen turned into a good sleeper. Asleep without a fuss by 7:30, going to bed drowsy but awake and talking himself to sleep. There was minimal noise in the night, and then he got up at 5:30 or so. And then he started sleeping until 6, which was even better! No dream feed, no eating in the night. He’s even been napping in his crib for about 2.5 hrs a day (instead of on the nanny).
The last few days he’s decided to undo some of his progress, starting with the napping. He’s been napping for 20 min around midday, instead of 1 + hours. And last night he woke up a lot and was squawking, to finally wake up completely at about 4 am. Travis (going forward to be known as TBHE – The Best Husband Ever ™) took the 1st shift with O. Now I’m waiting for Owen to wake from his morning nap while TBHE takes a nap.

Happy Valentine’s Day (a little late)

Guess what I got for Valentine’s Day? A scale! Hmmmm…. Is Travis trying to tell me something?

OK, the scale wasn’t really for Valentine’s Day. Travis just happened to pick one up at BJ’s, which is our 2nd favorite new hangout (right after Trader Joe’s). This is how we figured out that Owen weighs 20 pounds now. Clearly he’s enjoying his baby food.

I did weigh myself and then promptly put the scale in Owen’s bathroom (it’s for him after all).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Helpful parenting advice

Thanks to the Internet, you can now find useful tips for baby-raising, presented in clear diagrams.

Thanks to SognCentral for pointing us to this. And in an odd name pseudo-similarity coincidence, the pictures seem to come from a book by the Sopps.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In defense of the IRS

Anonymous wrote: "Ooh, an even better idea? Get rid of the IRS and bring on the Fair Tax or Flat Tax. Either sound better than the IRS's implemented chaos."

I don't know who Anonymous is, but their tone seems earnest, so I thought I'd respond:

1. If the complaint is about the efficiency of processing returns, payments, and refunds, making publications and instructions available, etc, then the IRS may be blamed. However, I think the "implemented chaos" Anonymous refers to is the complexity of the tax code. At least in my experience, that's what makes taxes painful: finding the required information, figuring out what numbers fit into what boxes (even using TurboTax), etc. It's not getting the forms, waiting months for refunds, or being visited by black-suited auditors in the night. The content of the tax code is - rightly - developed via politics, so if one wants to take issue with its complexity, first stop is the Presidents and members of Congress who have filled it with all sorts of special perks and penalties to advance their particular remedies for the ills of the American economy and/or society. For example, I understand that one of the current Presidential candidates - not the Commissioner of the IRS - has proposed a special tax regime for "patriotic" corporations.

2. I'm definitely a flat tax fan (in principle, not dogma, so let's not bother with strawmen of stupidly defined flat taxes that are stupid), but I wonder about the "Fair Tax". It has a suspiciously cheery moniker for a tax, not unlike a special tax regime for "patriot employers". More substantively, George Orwell addressed this years ago: "All [taxes] are [fair], but some [taxes] are more [fair] than others."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Exit the golden moment

William referred to "the golden moment", when the baby can sit up and move around, but can't walk. My faulty memory had that as "but can't really go anywhere and get himself into trouble". Owen has crossed the threshold. When he's sitting and wants to be somewhere else, he will now move himself from sitting to the tummy. And with his hybridization of an army crawl and the worm, he can get himself around a room... well, not "quickly", necessarily, but quickly enough that he can get himself from the safe spot you left him to someplace else faster than you can feel good about without watching him.

Likes and Dislikes

Owen continues to develop his list of likes and dislikes.

He really, really likes the broiler door, which unfortunately, is located at the bottom of the oven. While some ovens have a drawer for pans at the bottom, ours has a door that can 1. smash baby fingers 2. burn the bejeezus out of baby hands. He makes a beeline for the broiler door every time he’s in the kitchen.
** ‘beeline’ is wiggling on the tummy, army-style, until desired destination is reached and chewed.
He also has an ongoing fascination with the hinge on the refrigerator door.

He has a very strong dislike for the electric screwdriver. It brings on instant crying and dissatisfaction. Hairdryer? Vacuum cleaner? Relatively nonplussed. Electric screwdriver? Commence wailing.

Travis picked up a book on baby sign language at the library. I guess we’ll start with the signs for ‘hot’ and ‘danger’.

What passes for hope these days

From the FT today: "Barack Obama made an aggressive pitch to Ohio's blue-collar workers yesterday with a 'patriot employers' plan that would lower taxes for companies that did not ship jobs overseas. ... The plan met with skepticism from otherwise sympathetic Democratic economists, who said it would require a large regulatory and bureaucratic apparatus. 'I would say that this plan is borderline unimplementable,' said a Democratic economist in Washington DC. 'It is also puzzling. Normally presidential candidates only come up with plans that are unrealistic when they are losing.'"

Doubtless Obama will fully embrace the logic of his plan by today announcing a "patriot consumers" plan that would enact a federal sales tax, waived for those consumers whose purchases contain a certain percentage of goods made in the USA.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Entropy machine

Like Bisousette, our young gentleman is a licensed agent of S.L.O.T. (the Second Law of Thermodynamics). He can be off in some far corner of the room, and as soon as he hears the stacking rings being stacked, he'll turn and wriggle across the floor to knock them over. The same goes for the stacking cups, whether they be stacked or ordered into a nice, nested pile.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Danger, O William!

Owen is absolutely fascinated by plastic bags. Whenever they are being used in his earshot, it's all stop so he can stare in wonder. Perfect. A suffocation/choking hazard is his favorite thing in the world. I wonder what other perils around the house he'll be irresistibly drawn to.

  • Matches?
  • Stairs?
  • Knives? (Remember the safety motto: "No knives till five keeps kids alive!")
  • Full-automatic assault rifles?
  • Off-balance-sheet accounting?
  • Les Cousins Dangereux DVD?

Owen can't lick his lips

So when the delicious oatmeal, barley, or multi-grain cereal is stuck to the margins of his mouth, there it remains.

Lip-licking: another skill that I didn't realize one had to learn.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The witching hour

Some nights, from time to time, Owen wakes at 10:30 or so, crying badly. These are not the subconscious mutterings of, "Hey, where's Sheepy? Where... oh, there it is. Let me mash it against my face. Mmf. Mmf. Ahh..." but rather the waking cries of, "AAHHHHHHHH! Pain! Fear! Pain!" Last night, I heard a sound that preceded the crying. I didn't recognize it at all; it sounded like a combination of choking and running water. Only when Owen started crying did I realize that it had been him, at which point that strange, earlier sound became one of the worst things I'd ever heard.

The good news is that these bad dreams - at least that's what we think they are - are consolable. The first time, we fed him. The next time, he was falling back to sleep with Kerry by the time I got the bottle warmed. Last night, I knew to immediately scoop him up, and within a couple of minutes, he was heading back to the non-scary counties of the Dreaming.

And here's where I start to feel a little guilty, when I get happy from my son's trauma. Because there is nothing that feels as good as that little person falling asleep in my arms. His head in the fold of my elbow, his arms gradually relaxing to lie against his side or dangle past my forearm - it's truly one of the best feelings I've ever known. I'm sorry that he was terrified from his sleep, but that moment makes it all better - at least for me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The King of Kong

"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" is a documentary about one man's recent quest to break the 20+ year old record score for Donkey Kong. It's a well-made, unsettling movie, which made me never want to be the best in the world at anything. The people in the competitive classic video gaming game are deceitful (of others or themselves), paranoid, manipulative, and/or obsessive. This may be true of the elites in any field - business, politics, sport, art - but in an arena that seems to comprise about 75 people in the world, and for the rest of us just represents memories of well-spent quarters (if ill-spent time), it's a little disturbing.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sour puss

When eating tart fruits (eg, apples, peaches), Owen occasionally makes an awesome sour face. The spoonful goes in, then a couple of moments later, the mouth puckers, the eyes screw shut, and the eyebrows raise. It lasts less than a second, but it's absolutely hilarious.

It doesn't happen with every spoonful, and he's clearly not repulsed, as the mouth and eyes open back up, indicating readiness for more. There is no gagging - green beans, I'm looking in your direction - so it's OK for me to laugh at his shock.

Unfortunately, I've not been able to photograph this phenomenon, primarily because it is intermittent and short-lived. But also, when Owen sees the camera, he is enthralled to the point of not noticing any tartness, or sometimes to the point of not eating. (In fact, Owen is fascinated with all things electronic. Camera, cell phone, Blackberry, remote control, phone handset, laptop - no matter the package, he can sense a circuit board, and is drawn to it.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Work Blues and Partly Digested Food

I haven’t gotten to spend as much time as I like with O this week, giving me a bit of the work blues. It’s my week to be responsible for my nemesis – capsule endoscopy.

It’s a nifty procedure. Just swallow a camera the size and shape of a big vitamin, wear a recorder, and 8 hours later download photos of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. Very useful for examining the small intestine that can’t be reached with other kinds of endoscopy, but a huge pain to interpret. Each study has 8 hours of recording time, generating 57,600 images which must all be looked at. Unfortunately, there’s no helpful computer program to make the reading easier (by marking the abnormalities for me). And the software has the not-so-useful characteristic of occasionally corrupting the findings, resulting in getting to re-read the entire study. This happened to me today for the first time, but I won’t repeat the string of swear words and grumbling that erupted when I realized I would now be reading the study again. The capsule images are turned into a video, so it’s like watching a trip through the GI tract, but not as funny as when it happens on the Simpsons or Futurama, and not as cool as when it gets shown on a science show. There’s always a few people who don’t follow the prep instructions, so I get to look at their partly digested food. There’s also a bit of a seasick factor when watching the images as the capsule really bounces around in the stomach. Oh well, I finished my 8 studies for the week and now don’t have to read them again for a few months. Hmm, writing about Owen is more fun…


Owen pulled up to standing today. He was sitting in his crib and managed to pull himself up. Then he did it with his activity table. Yesterday, he apparently spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to pull to standing. Nanny Carla described a look of very intense concentration during the effort (I suspect it’s similar to Travis’s look when he’s reading the Economist).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Toothy goodness

Owen has a tooth. I discovered this last week (or maybe the week before) because he bit me. It’s small, and razor sharp. When he wants to give something a good chew, he finds a stationary object and rubs his gums back and forth on it, like a dog shaking a chew toy. He does the same motion for toys he can pick up – moving his head rather than the toy.
In other tooth news, O is fascinated when I brush my teeth. I draw the same scrutiny and look of intense concentration that his ‘Old McDonald’s Farm’ book gets (his current favorite). Hopefully he’ll enjoy us brushing his tiny tooth – not sure when this is supposed to start, so I guess I’ll have to read up on it.

Monday, February 04, 2008


In my January wrap-up, I failed to mention how fun and amazing it is to watch Owen play. He can take the simplest object - which includes most infant toys, designed to avoid the choking, breaking, cutting, pinching, etc - and be continually fascinated by it. He'll turn it over and over, put various parts in the mouth for a while, resume turning it over, perhaps about a different axis. It's a very different process than the excited swinging and accidental throwing of an object, and he rarely goes from one to another. Actually, as fascinated by an object as he may be, he's probably less amazed than I am by him. I call it "playing", but in an adult you'd call it "intense scrutiny". I give a fortune to know what's going on in his noggin at those times, either what he's thinking, or what tracks are being laid down in the neurons.

Someone has a case of the Mondays

This hasn't been the best day in Owen's short record book. He woke up with pink eye in his right eye, all oozy and crusted shut. (Thanks for passing that along, Dad!) Then, for the first time in weeks, he fell over while sitting, bonking his head on the bathroom floor and getting a tiny red knot over his left eye. But he was a trooper, fussing minimally as breakfast was delayed for a trip to the winter express service at the pediatrician and the pharmacy for eye drops. And now I hear him giggling his head off with Carla - after breakfast - so it looks like this case of the Mondays will not be chronic.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl wrap-up

Never go against the team that is hot in the playoffs.

How many times must I be on the wrong side of that before I learn it?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Furry turkey

Question of the day – How long does smoked turkey last? We dined on an excellent Greenberg turkey for Christmas dinner. Travis has continued eating the left over turkey since then, until about Monday of this week. Yep, that’s right. He’s been eating month-old turkey. I’m sure it’s completely unrelated to his recent spell of less than stellar health (2 upper respiratory infections and now pinkeye, in the last 4 weeks), but eewwww. The power of the smoking wore off and I pitched the remainder of the cut up turkey, now a bit on the furry side. You would think all my talk about the ‘germ theory of disease’ and obsessive hand-washing would have caught his attention by now.

A new look, a new contributor

Yep, that’s right. I’ve decided to start writing again, but this time on Travis’s blog. Then we can both write about Owen. Travis changed the layout of the blog (or maybe just the background color) in honor of my joining it.