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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It Surely Is 

I'm sure over Christmas, my father will get to try out at least one line from Airplane on Celeste: "Don't call me Shirley." I'm guessing she picked it up from a Beatrix Potter book or something, but Celeste as added the phrase "Surely it is" to her vocabulary with a vengeance.

Tonight, she looked out the window. "Ah! Moon! A crescent moon. Surely it is!" Earlier in the day, it was something about Ripley: "Surely he is." And so forth. It's really, really cute and more than a bit funny; of course, if it did come from Beatrix Potter, I do kind of wonder why she never managed to pick up "I am affronted" (which is Mrs. Tabitha Twitchett's comment in The Tale of Tom Kitten when she finds the kittens in a state of disarray) — that would be really cute for a two-year-old to say in the midst of a tantrum.

Also this afternoon, I'm pretty sure Quinn's first tooth just started to crest her gum. She was grumpy as can be. There's a swollen place on her jaw ... and when I touched it to see if I could feel a tooth it set off about 15 minutes of screaming.

On the less screamy side, Quinn rolled over from tummy to back today pretty much on command; she was complaining about tummy time and I told her she could roll over if she wanted and she lifted up her arm and slowly flipped over.

All the applause and praising made Celeste want to get out of her highchair immediately to do her own rolling over.
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Monday, November 27, 2006

Imagination 

It's really interesting to watch the way Celeste's mind is developing (Quinn's too, but being preverbal, it's harder to judge much of what she's thinking/doing). She's doing lots of imaginative play with her Little People animals and buses, making dog bones out of Play-Doh and Mega Bloks for Ripley to eat, looking out the window and seeing Stick and Rudder flying the Gooney Bird, etc.

For a while now, she's been plucking cookies, dulces, and other food from the pages of books to eat. Then, a few days ago, we were reading Best Friends and when we got to the page where Kathy thinks about taking all of Mr. Jode's puppies, Celeste started gathering puppies and putting them in her hands. When she had 15 puppies (she was counting them as she took them off the page), she started juggling them before putting them into the "puppy house," a.k.a. the sofa cushion.
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Reading Ahead 

My mother tells the story of how as a little child I would impress strangers with my reading skills. Of course, I couldn't actually read; I'd just committed to memory all the text of the books that I'd insisted be read to me.

Celeste seems to be on a similar path.

Tonight, she was sitting on the floor in the kitchen while I cleaned up after dinner and she was reading, pretty accurately, some of the pages in S.S. Bathtub. Then during her bedtime stories session, she corrected me when I let a little too much Estuary slip in to the Good Knight's line about "another glass of water?"

I like "doing voices" for much of the reading aloud that I do, and at some point I decided the Good Knight in
Good Night, Good Knight
has a British accent. For the most part, I can't tell if Celeste notices or not, but when I said something closer to 'wɔːtə or 'wɔʊʔə instead of wô'tər, she turned to face me and said very seriously "No. Water."
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pears 

In general, I'm not a fan of pears. I like apples more than asian pears and asian pears more than pears. I think it's more of a texture thing than taste, which is why I'm much more likely to eat cooked pears and to experiment with things like poached pears or pear-ginger pie.

However, pears are early on the list of foods okay to introduce to infants, so Quinn has been enjoying pear sauce (and related pear products) for a few weeks now. Since I overpurchased comice pears for the pear-ginger pie, on Friday Evelin decided to cook up the leftovers and run them through the fruit/vegetable strainer/grinder. Everything was going pretty well except that comice pears, Evelin discovered, provide lots of juice and very little pear sauce. From four or five pears, she got about a quarter cup of pear sauce and about two cups of pear juice.

In retrospect, this should have been expected. In the pear-ginger pie, the comice pears just melt away; in fact, Evelin mixed bosc pears with comice in the pie to give it a little more tooth.

We've frozen the juice and are using it to thin oatmeal and other thick foods for Quinn ...

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday 

Last year, we were in New Orleans. The year before that was in New England. The year before that I stayed home as we were in the early part of our IVF cycle. I'm not sure when I was last in the office on Black Friday. That said, I am a bit scared ...

As I drove toward my office a bit before 6:00 a.m., I passed Toys "Я" Us and the parking lot was jammed. Okay, I can understand that — early sales and what not. As I got closer to my building, I see Circuit City ... jammed. Okay, this is a little funny. Next up, across the street from my office, Best Buy ... beyond jammed. In fact, overflow parking had (improperly) filled up the parking in the front parking lot of my building. There were people darting across the street in the dark. A guy with a plasma screen television box on his shoulder as he walked along the sidewalk.

Over the past 90 minutes, the sun has risen, the parking lots have gotten worse, and the blaring of car horns has gotten more frequent. Scary.
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Last Night

Dinner last night went well: We got there later than we expected and it took the turkey longer to cook than C--- and T--- expected, but Celeste, Quinn, T--- had fun playing. We ended up getting home around 8:30 p.m. Before dessert Celeste had started in with "Celeste ready to go home now. Celeste ready to go home, please." so it was no real surprise that as soon as we got home and I asked who wants to put on pyjamas and go to bed, Celeste let out a real big "Uh-huh!"
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! 

So many things to be thankful for: Two sweet girls, a wonderful wife, Democratic control of Congress, ...

Evelin put her foot down and no traveling this year for Thanksgiving, so we're going over to some neighborhood friends' house after the girls wake from their naps. They're making a turkey and some other things; we're bringing dessert and some sides.

Back on Sunday, I made some port-cranberry sauce and this morning I started prepping things for a mushroom, leek and parmesan bread pudding. Evelin made a pear-ginger pie and a Tourte au Potiron today, as well as some cranberry pear biscotti (from Biscotti & Other Low Fat Cookies) and provençal winter squash gratin (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone).

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One Step Forward 

A while ago, someone left a comment on my blog saying that he had bought the same Baby Italia Isabella crib Celeste has but that it was discontinued and he couldn't get a toddler rail for it anymore. After hearing that, I ran out to Babies "Я" Us to see if I could find an alternate solution. It turns out that while the Isabella is no longer available, toddler rails and twin-size side rails are still available for "Lifestyle" range cribs, but special orders take about three months. I ordered them.

That was back in August; the rails arrived in October. Every now and then, since I brought them home, I'd talk to Celeste about changing her crib. I showed her pictures of the toddler rail online. She generally seemed interested, but noncommittal at best.

About two weeks ago, near bedtime, Celeste climbed into the twin bed in Quinn's room and said she wanted to sleep there. She made it all the way through her stories and the light going out. Then we had to shift Quinn out of Celeste's crib and Celeste back into her room.

Saturday, however, after Celeste's nap, we took the plunge. I pulled the toddler rail out of her closet, held it up next to her bed, and at the first indication of approval broke out the Allen wrenches. Actually, I think the thing that made it more acceptable to Celeste was that she got to help — holding the bolts, playing with the wrenches, etc.

That night, she slept there without a problem. Even her nap on Sunday she stayed in her bed. Today, she end up not napping at all. When I went in to her room to see what was up with all the talking and occasional shouting, she was sitting in bed (sans pyjamas — yes, she's been wanting pyjamas for her naps of late) giggling and then asking to please get up and go downstairs.

She knows she can climb in and out of the bed — and I've heard her talking with her stuffed animals about getting out of bed — but she doesn't seem to be doing it. I'm sure she will soon enough, but I'm just glad she hasn't been asking for the big side to be put back on the crib.
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Other Stuff

TEETH: Both of Celeste's upper two-year molars are in; I thought I felt something on the lower jaw while flossing her, but I'm not sure. Quinn is obviously troubled by her yet-to-erupt teeth — lots of general upsettedness, drool, hands in mouth — but nothing seems to be popping out yet. I'm pretty sure we'll wake up one day and find she has five or more teeth.

AIRPLANES: After today's non-nap, I took Celeste and Quinn to the College Park Aviation Museum. After Celeste did a few games and puzzles and pointed out the Blériot XI (identified as "Bléroit"), 1924 Berliner Helicopter No. 5 (identified as "helicopter"), and the Boeing A75N1/PT-17 Stearman (identified as "biplane"), she was ready to head home. As usual, we passed through the gift shop and picked up The Adventures of Stick and Rudder: It's a Zoo. A while ago, we picked up the second Stick and Rudder book (The Great Race), and then a visit or two later, we picked up Popcorn. The thing is the books aren't that well written (I often find myself rewriting/editing them as I read them to Celeste) and the stories are kind of weak, but Celeste likes them and I kind of like them too.

STICKERS: We're using stickers as a potty-training reward for Celeste, but she likes to pick her sticker and then put it on Evelin or my jeans. This afternoon, between the potty rewards, admission stickers to the College Park Aviation Museum, and other stickers she found laying around, I garnered about 15 stickers on my pants legs.
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Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Slide and a Synth 

A little while ago, I picked up a cheap little digital camcorder, a Microtek Take-it MV500, to capture YouTube-level clips to share with friends and family. For the most part, it works okay, but we need to boost the lighting to improve the images, I think.

Anyway, here are two short clips, one from Celeste and one from Quinn. I doubt either are up to the level of "America's Funniest Home Videos," but if anyone thinks either is worth $10,000, please feel free to contact me to find out where you can send the check.


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Friday, November 17, 2006

Celeste's Accent 

Evelin and I are a mixed marriage of sorts: My family is Southern; hers are New England Yankees. And they all have the accents to prove it. While we have the occasional word or turn of phrase that belies or origin, neither Evelin nor I have too strong of an accent, something that living in the Mid-Atlantic does little to change (Baltimore, excepted).

Which raises the question where in the world did Celeste pick up her drawl? Just listen to her say "puppy dog" [MP3] — pupp-ee dawg.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fall Has Fallen 

Tuesday I took advantage of my mother-in-law being in town and stayed at work longer than's normal for my typical "short day." I also was stuck in meetings from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., so she and Evelin knew I'd be late.

When I got home, Quinn was awake and Celeste was napping, so after a little playtime, I took some time to rake the front and side yards. It was a good thing, too — Thursday, when the big storm blew through, it dumped about 80% of the rest of our canopy over the yard and street. The only way one can tell that I raked is that there is a big bump between the street and sidewalk where all the old leaves sit under the new leaves that cover everything that was raked too.

Actually, it's a little surprising how quickly everything turned this year. We had some really nice color for a few days, maybe a week or so — nice deep reds, purples, a bit of yellow and orange. And then it all started dropping very quickly. A few of the big oaks that shade our house and yard seem to be dropping more of their leaves than is normal for this early in the season, but the warm–cold shifts we've been having probably contribute to that.

That said, we still have a fair number of leaves overhead. Hopefully, I'll get Celeste out with a little rake and we can get the yard done this weekend, Thanksgiving, and/or next weekend ...
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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fun and Games 

A while ago, Celeste started running away, usually to the other side of the room, but always annoucing loudly, "Celeste run away now."

Neither Evelin nor I could figure out (1) where she got the idea for running away or (2) why she would run away. After all, she has a pretty good deal here: No rent, free diapers, all the pierogies and mango she can eat.

About a month ago, we figured it out: She's emulating The Runaway Bunny (by Margaret Wise Brown, Celeste notes; we have to read the author, although not always the illustrator, for every book). Now, whenever Celeste says she's running away, we start a little game of either chase or hide (in plain sight) and seek.

The other game I have yet to figure out from her is if I'm laying on the ground and pretend to be asleep, Celeste will jump on me and say "Wake! Up! Sleepy! School! Bus!" She loves buses and has a lot of bus toys that are always doing fun things; she's even started referring to her crib as a school bus. But where she got that a sleeping daddy is the same as a sleepy school bus ... who knows.
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Postcrossing: 200 Cards 

I just dropped my 104th card in the mail this morning (actually, it's probably the 112th or so, if you count the cards I've had to resend because the first one was lost in the mail, the ones to users who dropped out of the system before registering my card, and the thank you cards sent to other Postcrossing users who requested them), but when you add the 98 cards I've sent that have been registered to the 96 I've received thus far and the six I have traveling, you end up with 200 cards — a nice round number to do some math with.
Postcrossing Map: 194 Cards

So, since 4 February, I've received or sent 200 cards. Of these, 38% (76) have gone to/come from Finland. The next biggest batch have involved Germany, 13.5% (27), and the Netherlands, 11.5% (23). The United Kingdom is fourth with 7% (14), followed by New Zealand, 4.5% (9).

France and Portugal are both at 3% (6); Austria, Brazil, Canada, and Japan are at 2% (4); while Spain has 1.5% (3). Belgium, the Czech Republic and Singapore are each at 1% (2). One card (0.5%) have involved Australia, Croatia, Estonia, Iran, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, and Switzerland.

Of the U.K. cards, 11 were from England (5.5% of the total), two from Wales and one from Scotland; of the Spanish cards, one was from Catalunya and two were from Galicia.

UPDATE: (17 November 2006) — I received my 100th card today. Of course, it came from Finland, Suomussalmeen to be specific.
Previously: Postcrossing: 100 cards
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

こんにちは ネコさん 

I cut out of work a little early today to try to vote before having to make the childcare trade with Evelin: No luck, however. As I got to our polling place, two of our neighbors were coming out and they'd had to queue for more than an hour and the current line was at least as long as when they first got in it. Since I didn't have that long until Evelin had to leave for work, I guess I'll be headed back to the polls after naptime, ready to show the girls about democracy and untrustworthy voting machines.

The other thing I did on the way home was to stop at A.C. Moore to buy about 80% of their stock of Hello Kitty stickers. Judging by how often we find them stuck to the bottom of our socks or other household surfaces, they're a pretty good inducement for Celeste and potty training.

Of course, being a git, I tried to get Celeste to refer to "Hello Kitty" as
こんにちは ネコさん (Konichiwa Neko-san), but it turns out that Sanrio refers to Hello Kitty in Japanese as ハローキティ (Harō Kiti), which sounds like a bad joke from the 1940s or something ...
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UPDATE: Since Enjanerd asked, I finally did get to vote. Evelin slipped out of her office early, voted, and made it home shortly after 5:00 p.m. I got to the polls, checked in, queued, and voted within about 45 minutes. The line was getting progressively longer the whole time I queued, so I guess I ended up getting there at a pretty good time.

As for the results, one word: W00t!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Kids Say the Darndest Things ... 

This evening, Evelin and Quinn ran to the grocery store for a loaf of bread and some lemons for the şehriye çorbası (modified from Mahi Koç's recipe) I was making for dinner. As I was prepping things, I found Evelin's mittens in the kitchen. Celeste was having an early dinner and as I walked past her highchair with the mittens, I said "Poor little Mumma lost her mittens." Ten minutes later, when Evelin and Quinn walked back in, Celeste said: "Poor little Mumma lost her mittens." Evelin was a bit confused; I was convulsing with laughter.

Actually, Celeste has been picking up (and retaining) a lot of things lately. Evelin and I will be talking, and she will parrot back words or phrases. And then, days or weeks later, some of those words (none of the off-color, thankfully) will pop back up, usually in context. On Thursday, I was asking Celeste about open gym, and whether or not she'd seen any of her friends. I asked about T--- and H--- and a few others and she said yes or no. Then I asked about M---, a neighborhood girl about three weeks older than Celeste. M--- has always been better with physical things than Celeste, and maybe it bugs her or something, because she's never really cottoned to M---. In fact, we've occasionally referred to M--- as Celeste's nemesis because of how they interact. I asked Celeste if she'd seen M---; she said, "Yes." Then I asked if M--- was her friend or not. Celeste said, "No. Nemesis."

Still thinking of Celeste, and my comments from the other day about my digital life, we took a short video today that I can't in good conscience post to the Internets. Basically, since Quinn, like Celeste before her, is a breastfed baby, Celeste has seen Evelin nurse Quinn on many occasions over the past six months. Naturally, she imitates some of the behaviors she sees, including sitting in the Boppy, and nursing her stuffed animals ... and, well, her bus. "Bus is hungry. Bus is nursing." It's very cute, but slightly disturbing. She also then needs to change the bus's diaper. Of course part of what makes it disturbing is that if you ask Celeste what buses eat, she says: "Buses eat insects!"
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Teh Cut3!!! 

Quinn in Fedora

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Digital Life 

Realizing that I've made no attempts to disguise who I am online, and that this blog is the first thing that pops up when one googles my name, I guess at some point I should make a preëmptive post that might help keep current or future employers (or potential freelance clients) assured that this blog is far from my indicative of my work product. I use odd twists of (multiple) language, make misspellings and grammatical errors, overuse diacritical marks, use the occasional bit of 733t, and generally make a poor example of myself as a editor/writer.

There're a couple of reasons for this, the biggest of which is that I've always seen this blog as an attempt to get words out of me. First as a way of processing (to use a Psych 101ism) our whole run through the world of infertility and ART; later as a way to help keep the grand'rents and other friends and family up to date about Celeste and Quinn. It's also proved handy as a way to store recipes, figure out how quickly my headlights keep burning out (replaced them again last Saturday; it seems 2003 Hyundai Elantras have a problem), and to basically act as a diary, remembering what was important on any given day or what I did or was interested in.

A long while ago, I read the memoir Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Life, 1918–1945 and one passage really stuck with me (and of course I can't find the book, much less the exact quote, at the moment). The gist of it was that Jeb, an editor for the government, noted that his work as an editor made it more difficult for him to write.

[UPDATE: Okay, I found the quote: page 204, the entry for 28 September 1932. It's not quite how I remembered it, but it still fits. Jeb Alexander, the memoirist, references a letter his friend Lansing Tower sends him. Tower had been in San Francisco working on a new Anarchist newspaper, Man!, and "He said one of the worst things for a writer is reading and criticizing the manuscripts of others — and I realize that in my own case."]

Over the years, I've found that very true: Both because the editing work has kept me from having time to do some of the (work) writing I'd like to do, and because it is so easy for doubts about commas and clauses to disrupt the ability of the words to get out of the head. (It took me about five tries to get that last sentence on screen, and I'm still not completely happy with it.)

So, if you've landed on this page because you were googling for an editor or writer or for me, please be assured that while I hope my writing is entertaining and/or interesting, "Lifechanges ... Delayed" is, first and foremost, a personal blog ... and I'm often rushing to finish my thoughts because someone is waking up from a nap.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hallowe'en 

It must be this neighborhood. Last year, we had our biggest trick-or-treat crowd ever; last night, it was the slowest Hallowe'en I can remember.

Celeste stuck to her guns and refused to dress up, and we dinna have a costume for Quinn, but it was okay because we didn't get the girls out of the house. Evelin got home about 15 or 20 minutes past 6:00 p.m. (the start of trick-or-treating here, and our first doorbell ring came about five seconds after 6:00 p.m.), and since the shift back to Standard Time has left the girls a little disrupted that was just in time to feed Quinn and to start the long push toward bed. Celeste was asking for peas and pierogies, and I was trying to cut and sauté onions* while keeping an ear out for the door. By the time we had to move the candy bowl outside so we could take care of baths and bed, it was a little after 7:00 p.m. and we'd had about 11 trick-or-treaters.

After the girls were down, I left the bowl outside so I could focus on cleaning up. Around 8:45 p.m., Evelin heard a bang on the porch so she went to look only to see a lot of (older) kids in the street ... and our bowl missing. Evelin is not shy about standing up for herself: "Hey! I don't care if you're greedy with the candy, but I want my bowl back." (I am on hold with a call center in India at this point, but I started to get my boots on to go and track down the miscreants.) One of the kids in the street says that it wasn't them, but some kids who took the bowl and ran down the street. After a little bit of yelling among the kids, I'm walking down the street and one of the kids is coming back with the bowl, still half-full of candy. I say thank you, gather the bowl, and head home — all the while still on hold.

The only other incident was at about 9:20 p.m. (trick-or-treating officially ended at 9:00) when the doorbell rang. Thankfully the girls both slept through it. When I opened the door, the kid at the door said something like "Sorry, I didn't think the doorbell would work." (So you rang it why?) I told her the cutoff for candy was 9:00 p.m., she apologized and led her group back to the sidewalk. We turned off the porch light after that.

*Frozen pierogies; the onions were for "Mexican pizzas," a quick quick dinner we came up with over the weekend: A spinach tortilla, spread with refried beans, topped with sautéed onions, and a bit of cheddar and then broiled. It's far, far, far from gourmet, but it's quick and tasty and helps speed through the arsenic hour.
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