Sunday, November 30, 2008

Warmest Welcome

Buoyed by the warmth of family gatherings and fortified by the mounds of food we'd eaten, Bree, Otter and I set off to the Ford dealership to seal the deal, and our fate. Since we'd already picked out are car, had it transported from God-knows-where (Corona, I think) and negotiated for the price (on this last point by "we" I mean Bree), we figured it would be a wham, bam, thank you ma'am kind of deal.

We arrived full of optimism, ready to roll on our 2-hour between feeding allotment. The first thing they showed us was the car (clever dealer tactic), which I had already named (my mistake), then sat us down to do the paperwork and bleed us dry on the financing. Having a baby in tow changed things, but only superficially. While flashing smiles at Otter, showing us pictures of their own offspring, and offering encouragement, the dealers thought nothing of screwing us right in front of her. On dealer cooed about eating her sweet chubby legs. There's a part of me that thinks he may not have been speaking figuratively.

We, for our part, tried to relieve the discomfort by doing laps around the Mustangs with a stroller when SB decided she'd had just about enough bargaining. Circling a souped-up, black and chrome, special edition Mustang with a Graco Lite-rider is a humbling experience, reminding you once and for all that that is no longer your life. This is.

But what of it? After several hours during which the ROCK BOTTOM WE CAN GO NO LOWER interest rate came down another 1.5 points, we loaded ourselves up and headed home...

...with the newest member of our family. Warmest welcome, to Owen, SUV extraordinaire!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

After a week of cooking like the wind while Otter slept, and making several dishes twice (the potatoes 'cause we wanted more, the stuffing 'cause there was a dreadful salt incident) and completing an needlessly complicated tart, it was time to greet the family and settled down for our Thanksgiving meal.

The cousins kept a careful ear out for Otter while she napped, alerting me at the first hint of sound emanating from her room. It was touching to see them carry her around and play with her, volunteering to babysit. And the meal was none too shabby either.

The men carved the turkey...

While hope sprang eternal for Foster...

Otter snoozed while we ate...

Otter enjoyed some playtime with her cousins...

Then, Aunt Alicia and Bree posed with all their kids...

More playtime...

Before settling down with Uncle Jeremy and Grand-Diggy...

And passing out at night's end.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Otter and the Infinite Sadness

At a certain point, all babies begin to coo and gurgle, their first attempts to communicate thoughts beyond "I'm hungry (whaaaa)," "I'm dirty/wet (whaaaaa)," or "I'm tired (whaaaa)." Cooing implies (at least to me) a certain happiness, and Otter definitely has her happy talk. She likes to tell us, the ceiling fan, or even just the ceiling about her day, squeals with delight when we rub her tummy and talks up a storm on Poopy Towel.

But recently, she's developed another mode - cooing, but with great sadness. It's definitely not crying (believe me, we know all the incarnations of that) but a spoken lament that hints to a depth of feeling which simple words cannot capture. I'm not sure how widespread this phenomenon is, but when I did an online search (the way I now gather all info on everything baby) I came up with nothing. Apparently, when the world's babies coo, they do it with nothing but glee.

I wonder what Otter's Infinite Sadness is about - what thoughts are causing her such sorrow? I wish she could tell me in words I'd understand. But, be it a curse or a blessing, I suspect she'll never remember.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

3 Months Down...

Today, Otter's reached a benchmark - she's made it through a quarter of a year without any serious injury, maiming, or death. It's hard to believe that she's made it this far already - and how much more of a human she's become in this time...

She holds her head up and (almost) smiles...

Looks milk-drunk and very pudgy (kinda like she ate herself)...

Yeah, milk-drunk... (Damn, I should back off the hooch, huh?)

Unsure of how she feels about this photo session...

Yet still pretty tiny... So many months still to go!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Finding a Stranger to Raise Otter

Looking forward to a time when I will once again be gainfully employed, Bree and I have begun the process of looking for the person who will raise our child for us. Yes, Otter's getting a nanny. Finding the individual who will spend more time with Otter than either of us will is stressful, at best.

We've gotten several recommendations, everyone from someone's nanny's sister, to friends that various people trust with their lives. In the end, we met with our neighbor's kid's nanny, who is conveniently becoming available just when we need her since the kid is starting pre-school full time. Oh, and they have a dog, so she's fine with Foster. Oh, and in true LA style, I can say that as rumor has it, she used to watch Gary Sinise's kids. That, if nothing else, should clinch it.

Is she too good to be true? Perhaps, so we're hedging our bets and interviewing the someone's nanny's sister too, if only to convince ourselves that we're making the right decision. Now, I just need to be called back into work.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Visiting the Doctor

After our triumph at the pediatrician's yesterday, Otter and I decided to ride the wave of doctor good fortune and finally visit the Dr. Phil offices. It was an impromptu decision, inspired by the fact that SB was completely zonked out in the car and driving somewhere was easier than actually taking her out of the car seat.

In the past, when I was still child-free and people brought their offspring to show off to their co-workers, I was always confused as to the proper reaction. As the gaggle of squealing women made their way down the hallway, surrounding mother and child in an impenetrable human wall, I never knew if I should join in, or save that extra bit of oxygen for mother and child by not adding myself to the masses. Well, being on the receiving end is even crazier.

It was so nice to bask in the glow of baby attention. Our progress through the hall was slow, as we stopped to talk and be admired by friends and coworkers. Otter got petted, carried around and ooohed over by more people than she's probably seen in her whole life. Mostly people said "She's so small!" to which we took some offense, since we had just triumphantly surpassed 10 lbs. One woman mistook us for the wife and child of our friend Del, who had just had a boy a month ago.

It felt a bit like hosting a party, where you don't have enough time to talk to any of the guests. Time flies by, and suddenly you realize that you've spent 2 hours flitting about, and you could really use some food. And a drink. So we made our way home.

But I think all this attention has gone to SB's head just a bit. Today she's insisting we go to her Dad's job. She heard Hef might be auditioning a new set of girlfriends, and frankly, she thinks she has more than a fighting chance.

image courtesy of BusinessWeek

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Making Weight

Today Otter was going back to the doctor's to get her second round of vaccines, but also to do a weigh-in. On our last visit, it was deemed that she was too petite (though as I argued then, she was only 6 lbs to begin with, and probably screwed herself by gaining too much weight in her first 2 weeks) and needed to have a clinical eye kept on her.

The anticipation was pretty intense. I mean, no one wants to hear that their child is "failing to thrive," a phrase that implies all kinds of complications of the most serious kind. Images of malnourished babies with sunken eyes and yellow skin run rampant through the mind's eye. And considering it's my job to keep boob firmly planted in mouth, providing nutritious goodness to my helpless infant, the imaginary finger points squarely at me. Any excuses a could (and did) come up with sounded hollow at best: "She's not quite 2 months yet..." (splitting hairs); "I can't help it if she's bulimic..." (pathetic and low). Let's face it - "failure" is the operative word here.

So as not to risk getting reprimanded in that doctorly way again, I entertained several plans to help Otter make weight. The fact that she is allowed to remain in her diaper afforded us several options:

1) Hide weights in there - something small, like ball bearings, bb gun pellets or fishing line sinkers.
2) Don't change the overnight diaper. That's probably a good 2-3 lbs right there!
3) Borrow our neighbor's baby for the appointment. (She was born at a healthy 9 lbs, 5 oz.)

In the end, we decided to just cross our fingers and arrive as is, no hidden weights. Though I did feed her right before the appointment, and sternly warned her not to spit any of it up. If weighing her after a meal is anything like getting me on the scale after dinner, we had a fighting chance.

Otter was shown back to the examination room and told to strip down to her skivvies. Putting on brave face and the innocent look of those with nothing to hide, we faced the music. Like a prizefighter moments before his bout, Otter approached the scales. Time stood still… I could hear the theme from Rocky in the background…

Having weighed in at 8 lbs, 10 oz on her previous visit, and accounting for a gain of about a pound/month, we were aiming for the over 9 1/2, but possibly under 10 lb range. The scale was set to 9 lbs as Otter was plopped down… It remained unbalanced. Could it be?

We left the office triumphantly, having gained 11 ounces BEYOND our expectations. Take that, failure to thrive. We’re 10 lbs, 5 oz., bitch.

Oh, and Hepatitis B, Polio – consider yourselves on notice. Otter’s been vaccinated against you.

image by bfurnace

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Road Again...

We have wheels. We are mobile. After the great car meltdown of 29 days ago, in which my lovely, silver Anabelle Lee careened to her untimely death by rear-ending a monster tank of a steel-reinforced Ford F-150, I was left without transportation. Which in LA is equivalent to house arrest. Sure, you can walk to the park or the 7-11, but that's about it. Come to think of it, you can do lots of things at 7-11 which parole officers would frown upon. But I digress...

Long story short - we still haven't bought a car, so yesterday we got me a sexy, graphite gray, Dodge Avenger rental. Yeah, that's me blowing through town, radio blaring, baby in the back seat. You know you've seen me.

Today was a day of mad, gleeful, out-of-house, driving required activity...
We went to the park!
We went to the bank!
We went to Target!
Yeah, what constitutes life's exciting moments has certainly been redefined in the last few months.

And bonus for us (or scary premonition of things to come) - Otter LOVED her some Target. All those colors. All those items you didn't know you wanted at discount prices. She cooed her approval.

image by Dodge

Monday, November 17, 2008

Space, the Final Frontier

After 11 weeks, 5 days, and about 5 hours (give or take), Grand-Diggy has gone where he has not gone before. In a word, he picked up Otter.

Not only that, he read her a book.

Not only that, she really enjoyed it and hung (hanged?) out happily in his arms.

Now, if I can only teach him to change diapers...

Mona Lisa

I've been claiming that Otter now smiles, but it was recently pointed out that we have no pictorial evidence to support my wild claims of Blobby Happiness. I've been trying to catch this elusive expression, with little success. Like the Mona Lisa, Otter has a enigmatic smile, filled with mystery and hidden meaning...

Yeah, right. The real is, the camera simultaneously fascinates and scares the crap outta her. So as soon as I pull it out, she can't tear her eyes away and be distracted by fun toys. She doesn't want to let it out of her sight, in case it tries something funny. Consequently, all her photos look something like this...

But, I'm a persistent fella. So here, at long last the proof is in the soft focus pudding...

On another note, I've discovered a fun new Otter game. Apparently you can put things in babies' mouths and they'll try to eat it. Like Mikey with Life cereal, only better, cause they're not nearly as selective as Mikey...

Halloween Update

For those of you waiting with bated breath to find out how Otter made out on Halloween, here, at long last are our pics...

Otter with Dad...

Otter with Mom... Note our family's festive attire.

Otter shows of her candy stash... Guess I'll have to eat it all so she can enjoy it...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Momentary Victory

Today is a momentous day. Otter slept through the night. The whole night - she went to bed on 11/11 at 9:30 pm, and awoke on 11/12 at 6:47 am. Even if this was a one-time affair, for today - go us!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mad With Wine & Freedom

I'm writing this, 6 sheets to the wind from one glass of wine. It is very fine wine, if you must know - from a little-known, boutique winery in Paso Robles. I could tell you what it is, but then I wouldn't feel superior in being a wine club member at such an exclusive vineyard.

I've just had the most amazing, home-cooked meal. It wasn't frozen, reheated, or out of a Tupperware container. Otter is very much asleep, so I could enjoy my meal, my wine, and some late-night, non-Otter-friendly TV.

We drank a toast to Otter's sleep. God bless her. I am happy.

Could She-Blob Be The Next Unabomber?

With each passing day, Otter reveals more and more of her personality. She's begun to show a preference for certain toys (the heart with all the dangly things off it is a particular favorite). She expresses her opinion about my boobs (left is WAAAYYY better than the right, for reasons I don't completely understand).

She enjoys a variety of activities, while having a short attention span for most of them. The swing might be fine now, but when she's done with it, she's DONE. As noted before, her favorite spot to chat is on her changing towel. She also enjoys 40's swing music, or anything bouncy. As far as classical music is concerned, the jury's very much still out.

But along with these pleasant revelations, we've also noticed a slightly disturbing trend. While cooing to me and Bree is definitely part of Otter's day, the presence of a human is by no means necessary for her to talk. This weekend, Otter was in her bassinet in another room, when we heard it - a full-on, excited conversation with, what we can best surmise was the AC vent. I mean, the girl had volumes to say to the ceiling. Much more than she ever shares with us. She lay there for a good 20 minutes, cracking herself up with her witty banter.

Should we be concerned? Is this an early indication that she'd rather talk to furniture an appliances, destined to live out her days in an isolated cabin in the wilds of Montana, writing manifestos with the help of her ceiling fan?

Or am I over-reacting?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Otter Gets Democratic

Today, Otter accompanied me to our local polling place to begin what we hope is her lifelong involvement in the electoral process. While she wasn't the only infant there, she was certainly the youngest (I said, gloating just a little).

It's hard to say what she thought of the whole thing, since she hung listlessly, dead asleep in her Bjorn through the whole endeavor. Still, she displayed her "I Voted" sticker proudly. And I would have gotten a picture of that, but my camera is out of batteries and I have NO idea where the replacement AA's are.

Ah, motherhood.

Image by √oхέƒx™

Sunday, November 2, 2008

20 Questions

I'd always heard that babies are conversation starters. Like the guy who gets a dog, so he can go to the dog park and chat up the ladies and their pooches, SB gives license to people, both friends and strangers, to break the ice and ask questions.

These conversations are very nice, and a godsend to someone like me, who has been isolated from the "real" world and starved for human interaction of the non-baby sort. Most people either complement SB, acertain her gender (she often wears gender neutral garb), or ask her age, a question invariably followed by a "Oh, she's so little!"

Occasionally however, I am surprised by the queries that Bree and I get regarding SB.

Is she walking yet?

and, along the same lines...

Is she talking yet?

While I'd like to believe that our girl is a Mensa scholar, destined to walk on the moon, be President, and cure cancer, all by the age of 12, I gotta be realistic. Even though all of this is probably true, they don't quite start talking at 10 weeks.

Otter got candy at Halloween. Which was very very sweet (no pun intended). The giver of treats was surprised that she wouldn't be eating it yet.

Ok...I do get this a bit more. Before I had a baby, I wasn't clear on when they start eating what. And to be perfectly honest, I'm still not 100% sure now. But I think I've always known that they don't subsist on Reeces Peanut Butter Cups and Almond Joys until they're toddlers. On the upside, if she were to start eating chocolate now, at least she couldn't rot her teeth.

While it seems strange to me, all these are understandable for people who don't have babies in their lives. But the most bizarre conversation happened this weekend at Trader Joes. As I was walking through the frozen food aisle, with SB dangling away in her Bjorn, a random man cam up to me and said...
"Is that a real baby?"

I'm SO not kidding. After making sure I hadn't misunderstood him (I hadn't, sadly), I told him that yes, in fact SB was real. Then I asked, "Do people often walk around with fake babies?"
"You never know with people these days," he replied, completely seriously.

Yeah, you never do know with people.