Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's Eve Cleaning

I think I've read that in some traditions cleaning the entire house before the New Year arrives is customary. For us, it was necessary.

All the windows in the house were just replaced and it left a bunch of dust and bits of vinyl throughout the house. Since the workers left yesterday afternoon, I can't count how many loads of bedding, throws, clothes, assorted baby toys and coverings, etc., we've run. Plus pretty much every piece of furniture has been moved and more vacuuming than we've done since we moved in has occurred.

And we're still not done. The new windows are installed properly (as opposed to the old horror-show windows we had before, which means we lost some windowsill space and Evelin is busy repotting plants and trying to find new homes for others).

Despite the disruption, the new windows look good, and they should keep the inside temperature more consistent no matter the outside temperature. Plus they open and close at our command, as opposed to the old ones, some of which only held open/closed with the help of a dowel pin.

According to the windows guys, the windows we had were only manufactured and installed for a short period of time in the early to mid 1970s. They were basically two storm windows sandwiched together, so in a sense they were double-insulated, but not in a good sense.

The new ones are the full monty: tilt in for cleaning, easy to open/close, divided panes above a single pane, Argon-gas filled, UV coated, and so forth. It already seems warmer and quieter.

Of course, the two days of installation weren't the easiest on Celeste. I was working at home (after a half day on Wednesday, I was coughing and sniffling too much and was basically ordered home by my department), which left Evelin free to take her out for a walk to get away from the dust and noise, but much of the day was spent with her in a closed off room that had already had the windows changed out. And now we're keeping some windows cracked to help air out the smell from the caulk.

Actually, I'm not sure what's up with the little girl. Over Christmas, she was at her best — smiling, playing nicely, even letting out her first real giggles — but the past two days she's seemed a little sullen and more than a bit cranky. Last night she was screaming so bad when we tried to put her to bed that I thought she might have an earache or something. (It turned out there's no fever, and while she is a bit stuffed up, she doesn't seem to be abnormally so. She has a pediatrician's visit scheduled for next week, so we'll ask lots of questions then.)

Evelin is pretty sure she was overtired between bad naps during all the work and post-work cleaning, plus we were trying to clean things up and probably missed many "Hey! I'm tired!" signs.

It probably doesn't help that I'm holding her less and playing with her less at the moment: I don't want to spread my germs to her, and I've been a bit on the wiped-out side of things. That's not fair to Celeste or to Evelin, but hopefully this will pass soon and we'll all be back to normal. At least the windows are all already cleaned.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

: Terrorist Toddler Twins

Okay, so maybe I'm being unfair, but my twin nieces were running around with typical toddler runny noses during Christmas and since then my father, their father, the neighbor's son and son-in-law, and I have all come down with some sort of cold.

I have no proof that القاعدة (al-Qa’ida) is using toddlers as a vector for biological warfare, but it feels like it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Home from the Holidays

As one might have gathered from my Boxing Day entry, we went down to Louisiana for the holidays. It was a good trip, and we got to see a lot of friends and family, despite the unusual weather.

We flew down last Wednesday and Celeste proved herself a true road warrior. It was a challenge traveling with all her accessories, plus our bags, and whatever presents we didn't have Amazon ship directly to Hammond, but we made it through every stumbling block TSA and/or the airlines set up ... although, not always with grace: Trying to remove shoes, undo belt, get Celeste out of her carseat, collapse the stroller, and put all our stuff on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed was handled better on the return at Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) than it was on the way down from Washington Dulles (IAD).

The only problem was that the gate agent at IAD didn't want to let those traveling with infants and small children to board early. She called out first class and passengers with disabilities; someone else then asked about children, and she conferred with the person at the podium who say "yes," but the gate agent didn't say children over the PA. I was watching all this go down, so we approached the gate and got a bit of attitude ("If we let everyone traveling with children board right away, we might as well open up the entire plane to everyone.") although we were allowed to board.

Maybe it's just me, but if I ran an airline, I would want babies to board as early as possible to give the parents time to settle the kid in and to keep the carseat from wacking anyone in the head in a crowded aisle. The flip side (and the same thinking) is that I expect parents to wait until the plane is mostly clear before trying to get out for the same reasons.

That said, Celeste was the best flyer out of the three of us. I was annoyed by all the baggage we had and the lines; Evelin was feeling ill from the turbulence; Celeste, however, slept through most of the flight. She did need a diaper change after we'd boarded but before we left the gate and she started wailing in the bathroom at the rear of the plane. It looked for a bit like it would be an ugly flight, but she calmed down and went to sleep before we started taxiing to the runway. And she stayed asleep, despite a pretty bumpy ride, until our final descent.

We brought along two small bottles (2 ounce) for the way up and down, but since she didn't take one on the way up, she had both during the descent. Trying to warm the first bottle, Evelin shook it to the point where some of the milk was starting to turn to butter, but Celeste didn't seem to mind. On the flight back, it was much of the same; Celeste slept until the descent, but this time she didn't want a bottle at all. She just sucked on the Soothie the entire time.

Besides the events of Christmas Day and Boxing Day, we had a pretty sedate visit. On the 23rd there was a party where Celeste got to meet Santa Claus (she didn't seem impressed), and the rest of the time was just spent hanging out.

I did spend part of one day testing the invisible fence that my parents and the neighbors use to keep their dog, S---, in check. He broke through it one day to follow my mom and Evelin on a walk, so I was shocking myself to see if the batteries were dying or if the range setting was too low or what. Probably going along on the walk was worth the short shock to S---. (While frying turkeys on Christmas Eve, my brother; the neighbor's son, A---; a cousin or two of his; and some other friends were playing with S---'s collar; we thought that might have killed the batteries, but they were still registering 6 volts, so we tried a different yard-size setting.)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Over the Pass and Through the Swamp ...

... to Grandmother's House We Go ... or not.

So this is what we planned for Christmas: Everyone was going to be in New Orleans for the first time in a long time. Evelin, Celeste, and I flew down on Wednesday; my brother (A---), his wife (N---), and their twins were driving in the same day; all the other out-of-town cousins and my mother's sisters were making their way to the Big Easy; my grandmother was going to have her 15 great-grandchildren all in one place for the first time (and the 16th one is due any day now, so it could have been an even more hectic day).

While packing to head South, I called my mother to check the weather forecast and to see what baby supplies/furniture we needed to bring vs. what she'd assembled from friends and her sisters and she told me it was supposed to be a white Christmas in New Orleans. Yeah, right. I remember exactly one "snowfall" from my childhood and that was a Twelfth Night sleet/ice storm that left a bunch of soggy hailstones that my brother turned into our South Louisiana version of a snowman and snowballs. While I was in college, there was a winter slush fall one year back at home, but I was away and so it doesn't count.

According to newscasts, the last white Christmas in New Orleans was in 1954, the year my youngest aunt was born. [UPDATE: Actually, the news reports were based on a faulty report from the National Weather Service. Christmas 1954 was 70°F and sunny; Christmas 1953, however, trace amounts of snow fell at the downtown post office.]

This year it snowed pretty hard, keeping my parents, my brother and his family, and Evelin, Celeste, and me on the roads and out of New Orleans.

We were supposed to be at Aunt B---'s for 1:30 p.m. or so. We'd seen flurries and a bit of weather here on the North Shore and the weather and news reports were telling us that some of the elevated highways, including I-55, which runs from Hammond over Pass Manchac and down to LaPlace, and I-10, which runs from LaPlace to New Orleans, were closed.

But this was a command performance. We weren't going to let a little ice and snow stop us. A---, N---, the twins, and my mother were in one vehicle; Evelin, Celeste, my father and I were in the second. We headed south, taking the old frontage road that parallels I-55 through Manchac Swamp; there was a concern that the tall bridge at the Pass would be closed or icy, but there were no troubles. Tangipahoa Parish did a pretty good job of sanding overpasses and bridges.

St. John the Baptist Parish, however, did things a little differently. As we approached where the frontage road passed under I-55 and approached I-10, we hit a traffic jam. No big deal; we figured there might be some traffic with people coming off I-10 to get onto U.S. Highway 61 (Airline Highway), but it was pretty much progressing only a few inches at a time. When finally we reached the head of the line, we found a sheriff's car blocking one of the two lanes and everyone trying to pass was being challenged as to their destination one car at a time.

Of course, the most frustrating thing was not being able to figure out what was the problem. Was there a wreck? Was it just volume due to traffic being diverted from I-10? What approaches to the city were still open? We tried tuning to an all-news station, WWL(AM), but they were airing some "Christmas Around the World" musical program from Disney World; they broke away at the top of each hour for CBS Radio news, but the local situation — freak weather and major road closures throughout the listening area — was mentioned only twice during unscheduled cutaways from the program. We also tried tuning to WDSU-TV (87.7 MHz on the FM dial picks up the audio carrier channel for the TV Channel 6 station), but there was no news to be had; traffic information was being delivered via crawls, which don't work too well on radio. My brother's new XM Radio system also wasn't any help; New Orleans isn't among the metropoles that it provides traffic and weather information for. We ended up calling the neighbors back in Hammond to see if they could relay us any information from the TV news crawls.

Having figured it was something like this, we'd called my brother's car to coördinate stories; if the deputy asked, we were headed to LaPlace. This was true because we planned to take River Road to the Bonnet Carré Spillway, which we could cross on the old surface-level road. The deputy wasn't having any of it. "We're going to LaPlace." "Where in LaPlace are you going?" "We're headed to River Road" "Where on River Road are you going?"

He said he was just trying to spare us from clogged highways into a city where all the bridges were closing, but we didn't want to show our hand too much and he eventually let us pass. A--- may have said he was with us, because his interview process seemed to go more quickly.

We took a shortcut to get to Airline Highway and immediately saw that it was a parking lot, so the spillway-crossing plan was a go. Traveling along River Road was a breeze. We made good time along the winding road, but, as we approached the levee crossing we ran into traffic; an officer was blocking the access road to the spillway. We made our way to the head of the line and I got out to ask about options and was told that New Orleans was shut down. "The bridges are all closed," as was the spillway. He said that the Airline Highway bridge might reopen sometime soon, but he didn't want to tell us anything for certain so as not to get hopes up. Plus traffic on the highway was visibly a mess.

With this news, we called in our regrets to the New Orleans crowd and began retracing our route along the river and through the swamp. In all we were traveling for about three-and-a-half hours (Celeste slept the entire way). We got home a bit dejected for having missed the full-family affair, but settled into a quiet evening (well, as quiet as an evening can be with 15-month-old twins in the house), feasting on leftovers and finagling some leftover desserts from the next-door neighbors.

Sunday turned into our make-good day. I-10 and I-55 were still closed, but the Causeway was open, and we headed in to see everybody (just not at once). One aunt and her children and grandchildren were out in Metairie, staying at an old friend's house, so we stopped there for a visit first, and then headed into the city to see my grandmother. My youngest aunt and her husband, along with a first cousin once removed and her husband met up with us there and chatted for a while before we went to lunch with my grandmother. The final aunt we stopped by to see on our way out of town. It was a busy swing through the city for Celeste, but she will have plenty more visits to New Orleans in her life that she'll remember better, so I don't feel too bad about. There were a lot of cousins who we didn't get to see, and it would have been cool to have everyone together, but hopefully in another two years or so we can manage to pull it off again without the weather getting in the way. And, as nice as it would have been to have everyone together for Christmas, we did have a better quality visit (at least with my grandmother) on Boxing Day the way things turned out.

Along the drive home, I suggested taking the river route to see what the spillway route looked like (at this point the interstates and highways were all being reported as open, so we assumed the spillway would be too). The drive along the river was nice and we got roadside views of Destrehan and Ormond plantations, but when we got to the spillway, a big sign said "closed to through traffic." Well, "no through traffic" is not "no traffic," so we drove around the barricade and headed into the spillway.

As we were going along, we saw others in the spillway, but we also noticed some water leaking from the Mississippi River through the timbers that make up the spillway gates. My father remarked that the neighbor A--- had said the river was very high when he'd gone fishing on it south of New Orleans right before Christmas Eve. About two-thirds of the way across, we found out why the spillway was closed to through traffic and probably why it was closed the Christmas day: Water was running (fairly swiftly) over the road. We watched the truck ahead of us ford the water and decided to risk it, too. It was a few inches high and maybe 10 yards long, but my parents' Explorer had no trouble getting through, although my mother was a bit nervous. We probably could have made it across on Christmas day too, if the sheriff hadn't been blocking the roadway (although it might not have been passable if someone in a smaller car had gotten stuck in the water).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Long-Term Damage?

So I ran across the street to a pet store during lunch to pick up a Christmas present for my brother's lab and I found myself wondering whether or not some of the dog toys would make good baby/toddler toys.

I'm not thinking of giving Celeste any rawhide chews or anything, but the JW Pet Hol-ee Roller ball looks like it would be a fun toy. It's easy to grab, stretchy, bouncy, and non-toxic. (It's made from "100% natural rubber.")

I'm sure this is the sort of thing that could lead to years therapy for Celeste when she finds old pictures of herself playing with a dog toy, but I'm thinking about going back to get one to use as an in-office stress ball ...

UPDATE: Okay one downside for some people would be that "100% natural rubber" is the same as latex and can be an allergen. And Evelin thinks the ball tastes icky; I don't think it tastes good, but I don't think it's that bad. (Since Celeste is licking so many things now, we're occasionally tasting toys to see if things taste gross ...)

Friday, December 17, 2004

Crunchy Cars

So about a week-and-a-half ago, Evelin and Celeste were in a bit of a hit-and-run incident. Everyone is okay (Celeste slept through it all), but the T.R.U.C.K. did get a nice dent and scratch on the rear driver's-side door, a piece of torn trim, and a strike on the wheel that I don't think did any real damage, but I'm a tad paranoid. Evelin was driving down the street and the other driver pulled out of a parallel parking space and struck her. Evelin remained calm enough to call the police and to start to get the guy's information: She got the license plate and VIN# before the other guy put two and two together and decided to speed off. Evelin asked him to stay until the police arrived, but he said he was headed to the police station. Big surprise: He wasn't. Another big surprise, when the police ran the plates and VIN#, they didn't match.

Anyway, everyone's okay, insurance is taking care of things, but since it's a hit and run, even though our insurance won't take a hit, the insurance company does adding to the collective liability of all policyholders.

So today, I cut out of work early to do some not-quite-last-minute Christmas shopping. While waiting in the Ballston Commons mall parking garage for a car to pull out of a parking space, I head a nice *blort* sound and turned to see a minivan attached to the side of my car. Their bumper struck my rear driver's-side door (not quite the same place where the T.R.U.C.K. got hit, and thankfully not touching anything more than the door), putting a nice little crease in the panel.

Just another thing to deal with ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Well, one thing I can probably write a whole string of entries about is sleep and sleep strategies ... or lack there of.

A few weeks ago, we have two nigh-perfect nights of sleep from Celeste and then it fell apart rather rapidly. I should back up and note that <touch wood>Celeste is a good baby, no signs of colic and most of the time pretty agreeable</touch wood>; however, it seems, in general she'd rather be awake. Not that she wants to be interacting with us 24/7 — actually her most common look I've already dubbed as the "I'm so out of here when I turn 18" look — but she wants us to at least be within eyeshot (preferably closer than that) and she does not want to fall asleep. During the day, when she hasn't napped for hours, you can see how hard she's working to keep the eyelids open.

When she's that worn down, I have found that stroking her forehead and sweeping down across the nose and eyes (tricking her to close her eyes) sometimes works. The eyelids are too heavy to pull back up. It may only buy 30 to 40 minutes of sleep, but it's something.

But getting back to a few weeks ago, we started swaddling her again. For a while it seemed the swaddling was unnecessary so we stopped; when the sleeping troubles kicked back in, it took us a little while to remember swaddling. The problem was that the startle reflex would kick in and with her arms free she'd practically shake herself awake. But swaddling would help stymie that action and help her sleep past that point.

This week, however, we had to shift strategies again. She hasn't lost the startle reflex 100%, but it has diminished and being swaddled was leading to big struggles to free her arms that would wake her up (and get her worked up).

It's a mixed bag thus far: She doesn't fight the swaddle, but she still fights sleep. Evelin seems to have the magic touch, but sometimes I can get her to sleep (see the eye trick above). Also, it seems my foolproof lullaby is not longer working. For about 10 days, The Smiths' "Cemetery Gates" worked like a charm; now it's old hat. She'll listen politely (and hopefully absorb the anti-plagiarism lesson from the lyrics), but it doesn't calm her to sleep anymore.

I don't know if the fighting sleep so hard is typical or not, but her overnights seem to be pretty much by the book. To bed somewhere between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., awake for a feeding around midnight; awake again for 3:00 a.m. or so and then looking to wake up sometime around 7:00 a.m.

For us, the trouble point is the 3:00 a.m. feeding. Afterwards, she may catnap for a half hour or so, but then she starts talking or whinging to get our attention. If I go in to see what's what, she gives a nice big goofy smile that is so cute that I want to pick her up and play. Evelin (for good reasons) forbids such a reaction.

Monday night, we played the "Hey somebody come see me!" "Made you look!" game for about 90 minutes before we decided to bring her into our bed. Once there she looked back and forth happily at each of us for a while and then fell asleep. Tuesday night, I convinced Evelin to bring her to our bed after only a half hour of the game. She was a bit more up and took longer to fall asleep, but she was so happy and sweet, and I think we all sleep better this way. Evelin's not convinced, and she's rightly concerned about setting up a pattern that will not be easy to wean her from.

So, where we are now, is trying a bit of everything short of spiking her milk to get Celeste the sleep she needs (and, as a collateral benefit, the sleep Evelin and I need, too).

UPDATE: (from the comments): I don't want to jinx anything so the next paragraph is in Pig Latin*:
Eshay eptslay ettypray ellway astlay ightnay; oinggay otay edbay eforebay 8:00 pay.may., akingway aroundway idnightmay andway enthay eepingslay oughthray untilway aboutway 4:30 away.may. andway enthay eshay eptslay inway erhay ibcray untilway aboutway 6:45 away.may.!
We'll see if it was an aberration or not tonight ...

*Unfortunately, it looks like that's only an English —> Pig Latin translator, so you're on your own for translation back to English ...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Bad Marketing Poetry

Okay, so if I'm going to blog, I should blog. Even if it doesn't involve how cute Celeste is.

The marketing manager for the company where I work just left my office and the bad poetry below is mostly her fault. She had just finished some last-minute renewal wraps for two of our publications. When we talked about renewal wraps last week, I'd suggested she try a parody of "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handy, maybe from a television engineer with the soul of a poet. Or something equally bad (but funny).

Today, after describing the finished wraps to me, I reiterated the bad poetry idea, and she admitted that she did consider using a haiku or limerick on the wrap. Which lead to the following:
Renew to Ensure
[seven syllable magazine title here]
Your Job Enrichment
There once was a subscriber to [magazine title here, rhymes with "bar"]
Who stumbled late out of the bar
The subscription had lapsed
His forehead he slapped
When a review he missed of the latest in CD-R
I then offered up something a little more freeform:
Like fresh flowers
   and refreshing rain
[magazine title]
   Sign up again

Monday, December 13, 2004

Is Anybody Out There?

Celeste in her Christmas best

Well, I wouldn't blame anyone if they aren't reading this anymore. I have been a total slacker for the past month (and I haven't been too on the ball since Celeste was born). Evelin thinks I'm not motivated anymore because at least one lifechange is no longer delayed; I think it's because I'm just tired and distracted by work (and maybe still burned out after the election).

Anyway, a few things I just want to note so that I remember to go back and create real entries at some point — pacifiers; sleep strategies; "better than a lava lamp"; car wreck; demiurban dad; ... — I'm sure there're other entries I've missed. Eventually, I'll get back on track.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

All About the Roots

I don't know if it is a vitamin deficiency or because we had our first freeze this week, but I've been having lots of thoughts of root vegetables this past week.

On Saturday evening, while flipping channels, I ran across a cooking show featuring Lidia Bastianich. She was plating up some barbecued ribs or something, but what caught my attention were the roasted root vegetables. She'd already completed that segment and I only got a sidelong look at them, but I was intrigued.

Googling around, I couldn't find the recipes for the episode of Lidia's Italy in question, but I did find a roasted root vegetable of hers, which helped set the to-get list for the farmer's market: leeks, carrots, and potatoes (the Yukon gold looked good). For the parsnips, I had to stop at the co-op on the way home, where I also picked up some Tofurkey beer brats. The rest of the ingredients were in the cellar or fridge.
Roasted Root Vegetables
  • 3 medium leeks
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 large outer celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 6 small red or white new potatoes, cut in half
  • 3 small yellow onions, peeled and cut in half through the core
  • 20 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • salt and pepper
(I cut the onions into wedges, had extra rosemary and garlic, and bigger potatoes cut into cubes). The recipe can't be simpler: toss everything in a big bowl, pour into a greased 13 × 9 and then put in a 400°F oven for about an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure things brown evenly.
It turned out very tasty; next time, I might try adding a little vegetable bouillon or even more rosemary or a little balsamic or something just to give it a little more zing.

Last night, was root vegetables redux. Thinking about the Tofurkey brats, I had some dim idea that brats might traditionally be cooked with onion, cabbage, and apples, but I wasn't sure of the specifics. It seems to be an approved combination, but it took some googling to find a recipe that suited me.
Sheboygan Skillet*
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (original recipe has 2 pounds drained and rinsed sauerkraut)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups water ( or beer)
  • ½ cup apple cider or apple juice (NOT apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 pound fresh bratwurst
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
In a large skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions and garlic until tender. Stir in all other ingredients except brats and apples. Bring to a boil, uncovered.

Meanwhile, brown the brats. When the other mixture is boiling, add the brats, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the potatoes are tender, stir in the apples and cook, covered, a further 5 to 10 minutes, until the apples are tender.
This worked out less well than hoped, largely because — for some reason unfathomable to me but that (thankfully) makes Evelin laugh — I read "apple cider" as "apple cider vinegar." It makes no sense (and actually may add something back to the recipe since I was using fresh green cabbage instead of sauerkraut, but a half cup was way too much). The end result wasn't inedible, but it definitely was too vinegary. Since I figured out where I went wrong, Evelin may let me try this recipe again, but for a while there it looked like it was going to get written off as a bad experiment.

*The original recipe was entitled "Oktoberfest Bratwurst and Sauerkraut Skillet;" apologies to Wisconsin, but "Sheboygan Skillet" is more fun to say. Googling around, it looks like if I want to talk about Sheboygan and bratwurst, I need to try this preparation method.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Daddy-Daughter Day (Disaster)

Well, disaster might be a bit too strong of a word for it, but I can definitely say things didn't go as I'd hoped.

Sunday was Evelin's book club day (Willa Cather's My Ántonia), so Celeste and I planned a nice afternoon of hanging out and stuff. I figured we'd spend some time on the playmat kicking the monkey and poking Taggie, maybe take a walk. Who knows.

Celeste had other ideas.

Since Evelin was going to be gone for about four hours, we had some expressed breast milk in the fridge, but Celeste's eating was timing out for Evelin to feed her just before she left around noon. Often, after lunch, Celeste likes to play for an hour or so, but not yesterday. After a burping, she snuggled down on my chest for nearly a 90 minute nap.

I could deal with that; read a little, relax a little, go with the flow. However, when she woke up, it was a different story. Around 2:20 p.m. or so, Celeste needed a change, something that never makes her happy. That I could deal with, but after a new diaper she usually calms down. This time, she didn't. It'd been about two-and-a-half hours since she'd last eaten, so I figured she was hungry, but that bottle did not suit her or something.

For the next 40 minutes or so, she was alternating between screaming and taking maybe two or three tugs on the bottle and me trying to bounce/rock/sway/swing/dance/sing/plead with her. Apparently she did take in a bit from the bottle because after about 10 minutes of calm swinging on the front porch, she puked it all up.

After a change of clothes (for both of us), Celeste settled in on my chest for a chapter or two of Don Quixote and fell soundly back to sleep.

Around 3:30 p.m., Evelin called to say she was on her way home. I warned her that Celeste was going to be really hungry when she got home, so please hurry. I tried to keep the panic from my voice. I'm not sure I succeeded.

Around 4:00 p.m. Celeste started to wake again. I changed her diaper, but Evelin was still on the road, so I made up a fresh bottle. Maybe it made a difference that the milk was warmer this time*, or she was just too hungry to be picky this time, but Evelin got home just as the last of that bottle was going down. And this time it stayed down.

Hopefully, the next time, it will go a little more smoothly ...

* Back when we were giving her formula, we never heated up the water and Celeste was fine with it, so I didn't think to try to warm up the first bottle. The second one was made with milk that still had some ice crystals in it, so I ran the bag under hot water for a while before loading the bottle. It wasn't body temperature, but it was definitely not refrigerator temperature. Maybe, for Celeste, breastmilk has to be warm and formula has to be cold.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Celeste is 9

Back to the good stuff: Celeste is 9 pounds today! Her head is 15 inches and her length is 21.5 inches! Obviously this breast milk stuff does a body good!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post-Election Blues

So anyway. I stayed up until about 2:15 a.m. watching the results. Unlike the World Series, I didn't wake Celeste up to see history happen; I just hope she's not still paying for Bush's fiscal mistakes when she's my age.

I did go to work (despite waking up at 5:00 a.m. to help take care of Celeste), but the lack of sleep and general malaise caused me to head home by 1:00 p.m. where I did what I'm sure a lot of people did. I headed straight up to the roof ...

... to clean the gutters. And then I did a bit of raking. Yardwork helps take the mind off things.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

It took me about 15 minutes to vote once the polls opened; I queued up about a half-hour before the polls opened, however. Showing up at 6:30 a.m., I was about the 20th person in line, but people were falling in line behind be rather quickly. By the time the doors to the middle school's gym opened, the line was looped through the hallway, out the door, across the parking lot, and down the hill to the sidewalk. I'd guess there were nearly 100 people there and it was definitely the longest line I've seen at the polls ever.

Evelin and Celeste went to vote when they thought the pre-work rush would be over. No luck. She called me from the line, which was still out almost to the sidewalk around 9:30 a.m.; she called again when they got home -- it was about two hours later.

All day long, I saw people everywhere with I Voted!/¡Yo Voté! stickers.

On my way home, I flipped by the school to see how the lines were. People were still headed inside (and there were more and more cars headed into the parking lot), but no line stretching outside, at least not at 6:45 p.m. or so.

[Full Disclosure: This entry was composed after the election. I'm sure it would have been a lot more excitement and optimism had I written it up Tuesday afternoon.]

Monday, November 01, 2004

N No More

Well, Celeste is definitely getting bigger. We have used the last of the N-sized diapers and won't be buying any more. She's wearing size 1s now and there's no going back!

Actually, it's pretty obvious she's getting bigger. We can look back at some of the clothes we had her in her first two weeks and she now fits into them. The preemie clothes a friend loaned us when Celeste was born have been sent back; I don't think they fit after the fourth week or so.

And ...she's holding up her head (some). If she's tired, her head flops a lot, but if she's rested he can be propped up without us having to hold her head up. Plus she's really good with tummy time.

And while I'm bragging, she is smiling occasionally (and we're pretty sure it's real smiles, not gas), but she seems to smile more at her mobile or bunny than at her mother or me. Oh well...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

86 The Curse

So there's a expression "to 86," which means "to abandon" or "to reject." There are a lot of folk etymologies for the expression — the name for a frequently raided speakeasy during Prohibition, diner slang, Cockney rhyming slang (86 = nix), etc. — but I don't think there's a definitive answer. But that doesn't matter. What's important is that this is 2004, and 2004 is 86 years since 1918. And ...

The Red Sox Won the World Series!

I don't know if it was "Tessie" or just the wisdom of Theo or what, but we beat the Hated Yankees to win the ACLS and we swept the Cardinals to win the Series. I've been hearing some talk about how this was an uninspiring series because the Beloved BoSox dominated, but it sure didn't feel like it. The last three games were only three-point affairs. Until that last out, I was on the edge of my seat worried that something would happen to twist it all back on us.

But it didn't happen. Evelin said she knew this was the year because if we could end up having a baby — and especially one without all sorts of medical intervention — then the Sox could win it all.

Celeste was there for most of the games, although she did sleep during a lot of them (although not too restfully; every time I applauded a play, she would jump). During Game 4, she spent almost the entire game sleeping on my chest and shoulder, but I made sure to wake her up to watch Foulke's last pitches to Rentería. She may not remember it, but she saw it. The whole world saw it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Can I Breath Again?

Celeste is in a growth spurt, I think; she was up a lot between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. last night, so I'm a bit wiped out, but I have to say: THE RED SOX WON THE PENNANT!

I haven't said anything about the ACLS for fear of jinxing things. I tend to be a little superstitious anyway, but when it comes to baseball mojo there are many, many rules that must be followed.

Last year, it was the old beaten up ball that I had as a gris-gris, this year it was the rally cap. Honkey Cracker explains:
the Rally Cap is a device employed by losing baseball teams all around the world. The players turn their hats inside out and put them back on their heads. This is supposed to be good luck or something.... I don't know.
Well, let me tell you: Do not taunt the rally cap. The rally cap is the gris-gris needed to win; it is the juju that guards against curses.

After Game 3, I was down, but committed to watching the rest of the series. As the Beloved BoSox clawed their back in the 5th and then saw their lead disappear in the 6th, I turned my hat inside-out. And it stayed that way until just after midnight this morning. The way I saw it, being in the hole 3–0 for the ACLS, the rest of the series was all one big rally — a never before seen four-game rally — and last night the rally cap paid off in spades.

That was part of the beauty of this ACLS: It had the lowest of lows and the most dramatic of comebacks. Karma was flowing freely, finally giving those who were long, long, long overdue what they'd rightfully earned. And it was about redemption.

The night of Game 5, I kept finding a single tune running through my head: Bob Marley's "Redemption Song".
Old pirates yes they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they'd took I from the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs, redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the book

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs, redemption songs, redemption songs
It seems apt, in so many ways; after Game 3, this team needed redemption and it came with the expected bat of Señor Octubre David Ortiz and the unexpected bat of Mark Bellhorn, and, last night, with the much-too-quiet-of-late bat of Johnny Damon. It also came with the literally stitched together ankle of Curt Shilling, the back-to-back-to-back appearances by Keith Foulke, and — never to be forgotten — the arm of Derek Lowe, who had long been given up for dead. Adding to it all were the acrobatics of Bill Mueller, Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Trot Nixon; the speed of Dave Roberts; solid performances from Kevin Millar, Jason Varitek, and Manny Ramírez; and clutch appearances by everyone in the bullpen, even Pedro (who had me sweating when he came out last night).

For Game 7, "Redemption Song" found itself alternating in my mind with "Tessie" (mostly the Dropkick Murphys' version, but sometimes the original, too). I guess that's a sign of the calmness that overtook me for the end of this series. Now, unbelievably, there is more baseball to play. I stopped breathing a few times at the end of Game 6; I'm not sure how I'll make it through a World Series ...

Keep the Faith! Believe!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Game 4 and the Garbage Disposal

After Game 3 of the ACLS — like most of Red Sox Nation — I had pretty much given up on the series. Despite that, I still figured that if any team could come back from a 3–0 hole, it would be this bunch of idiots. Even with that bit of hope, it was almost nice to have a bit of distraction in the third inning (with the Hated Yankees up by two).

However, the distraction I got, was a giant mess in the downstairs bathroom caused by a leak somewhere in the kitchen. At first, I figured it was the dishwasher, which had been running, but the water was under the sink, not in front of the dishwasher, so I had to reevaluate.

Pulling the various cleaning supplies out from under the sink, I found that the tops of a lot of things were wet and that things on the side by the dishwasher were dryer than stuff directly under the disposal.

After emptying the cabinet, I tempted fate and turned on the faucet. Water was going pretty much straight through the disposal onto the floor.

Long story short: There was a bit of cursing, a depletion of our supply of paper towels, and a banged knuckle or two, but I disassembled the disposal only to discover that none of the Home Depot or Lowe's around us are open at 9:30 on a Sunday night.

After plugging the pipes and putting a big bag over the sink to keep anyone from accidentally trying to use the thing until morning, I went back to the game in time to see a rally to tie and then a long while until David Ortiz sealed things up for us.

I went to bed around 2:00 a.m. I'd already called in "sick house" to work since I knew I needed to fix the sink), but Celeste had other plans. I didn't see much of her during the game, because I was either under the sink or running out to closed stores, so she decided to rectify things. Most of the 2-o'clock hour was spent alternately comforting her, changing her, and setting off the horizontal alarm.

In the end, Evelin pulled out the cosleeper and we put her in our bed. It's cool to have her in bed with us, but the cosleeper does really crowd the bed (even though we have a queen-sized mattress). She ended up sleeping until almost 7:00 a.m., so I think I'm going to have to live with either a cramped bed or a lot of nighttime waking.

Around 8:00 a.m., I ran out to Home Depot, picked up an In-Sink-Erator Bader 5 Plus; it is a small upgrade from the old Emerson unit we had (from a 12-horsepower motor to a 58-horsepower one, and it's a bit quieter). All in all, it turned out to be a three-trip job: the initial purchase; the return to the store for a new slip-joint washer; and the third trip to return the dishwasher connection kit that proved unnecessary.

Including all the trips back and forth (and the inordinate amount of time it took me to get the rusty old snap ring off the old mount), I was done with the job in about 3.5 hours, which was longer than it should have taken, but I can take some solace in the fact that I didn't curse too much.

Since the day was half done (and Game 5 was set to start in a few hours), I decided not to go in for a half day. Instead, I ran some errands and did some chores around the house. (Evelin already had plans to meet a friend to walk the babies around Lake Artemesia.)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Horizontal Alarm

Celeste has this neat trick of knowing exactly when we're putting her down to sleep. If she falls asleep on one of us or while being held, she's fine. But if we then lay her down in her crib, it takes two minutes (or less) for the horizontal alarm to kick in letting her know that she's been abandoned. At that point, the wailing component of the alarm system kicks in and doesn't stop until she is no longer horizontal. A similar version kicks when we lay her down on the changing table, although that one sometimes adds a spraying mechanism to the wail.

Despite this, Celeste does have a cute cry; it's getting louder, but it's still cute.

The Baby Monitor

Just a stray observation: When the baby monitor is placed too near another electrical device (clock, lamp, laptop, etc.), it will start to pull in SportsTalk 980. Any noise from Celeste will overpower the AM signal, but the station is still audible.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Back to Celeste

Celeste Gets Political Okay, after last night's digression about beans, I need to offer up at least one Celeste story (and a picture).

The biggest thing for us right now is her sleep cycle. She's still a wee thing, feeding on demand and sleeping in between, but she does have some long wake periods. The trick for us has been trying to figure out how to deal with that sleep:wake ratio. We aren't trying to force her onto a schedule and sleeping or not sleeping through the night isn't a real problem at this point (well, Evelin might disagree, especially at 5:30 in the morning), but we were having an issue where Celeste didn't want to sleep if she wasn't being held.

Evelin blames the grandmothers who spent a lot of time holding Celeste when they spent their respective weeks with us after I went back to work. Plus I would spend a lot of time holding the sleeping baby when I got home from work.

No more.

The edict came down on Wednesday. Tuesday night had been a particularly rough one, so Evelin did some reading and googling and deciding and now when Celeste starts to get drowsy, she has to go into her crib. If she wakes up we can retrieve her, but otherwise sleepy Celeste goes in the crib. (Obviously, if she falls asleep in the carseat or stroller, we don't have to head home to get her into the crib, but no more naps on daddy during a ballgame.)

Wednesday night worked out pretty well. She was feeding when I got home and decided to be up for a while afterwards. We watched the first hour of the BoSox game and then switched over to the debate. (The game stayed live on MLB Gameday, which kept me from flipping back and forth.) Every 20 to 30 minutes, I'd have to run upstairs to put Celeste into her crib, and then return five minutes later to pick her back up, but in general it worked. After the debate, we switched back to the game and Celeste decided to go down for good late in the 8th. Other than waking up a bit after midnight, sometime around 3:00 a.m. and again as I was getting ready for work, she spent the rest of the night in the crib.

Last night it was similar. A bit of awake time playing on her playmat, some hanging out on the couch reading (mostly Shel Silverstein, but I did just get the new translation of Don Quixote, so maybe we'll see how she likes Cervantes some other time), and then to bed. There were fewer waking periods (probably because Celeste knew the Sox had a travel day) and that held true over night. She did have a very wet diaper around 5:00 a.m. that got her a bit fussy — and it didn't help that a sleepy set of parents didn't think to check the diaper until the third bout of complaining — but otherwise it was a fairly straightforward night with one late night feeding, one middle of the night feeding, and waking up when I was getting ready to go to work.

Of course, since I'm blogging this, tonight (and the weekend) will lead to all sorts of sleep changes and probably not for the best. There should be a <knock wood> tag in HTML ...

Thursday, October 14, 2004


First off, Celeste is doing well. I have much to blog about about her — sleep, no sleep, growth, pacifier concerns, her first trip to a restaurant, generally great baby stuff — but instead I'm going to blog about beans. (I hope that doesn't make me a bad father; I view it as a list of things that will inspire me to be a better blogger.)

So, beans. Not pinto or black or red, but green and lima. This is the story of Sunday.

Two weeks ago, while on Celeste's first trip to the Takoma Park Farmers Market, we picked up a pound of green beans. In buying them, I thought I'd make loubieh bi zayt (the Levantine green beans in olive oil dish that we've been enjoying for a while now); however, Evelin said she'd rather have something like the fasolakia we had at the Greek festival a few weeks ago. It seems the less complex spicing of the Greek dish is more in line with Evelin's taste than the multilayered bhār spice mix in the Levantine dish.

After checking my one Greek vegetarian cookbook, I found nothing that looked like the right balance of dill, green beans and Greek goodness, so I started googling various spellings of fasolakia and φασολάκια with little luck. In the end, I found a recipe for okra in dill and tomato sauce that looked like a good starting point.

In the end, I went with:
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 toes garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

  • 1 pound green beans, topped and tailed

  • 1 14 ounce tin of petite-cut diced tomatoes

  • salt and pepper
Sauté the onion until it starts to get translucent, add the garlic and sauté a little longer. Add the dill, tomato and green beans and simmer 15 to 25 minutes, until the beans are tender. Season and serve.

It turned out pretty tasty. I'm not sure this recipe will completely replace the bhār version, but Evelin may feel otherwise.

The next bean dish also has its genesis at the farmers market.

This time, Evelin and Celeste stayed home while I ran out early enough to make sure the eggs weren't sold out. I also picked up fresh dill for the fasolakia variant (I didn't have a recipe at the time, but I knew I wanted dill), a nice baguette, some asian pears, muscadines, and a bag of shelled, young lima beans.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the lima beans, but I thought I might I find something. Instead of the Internet, this time my cookbooks turned up a winner. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, (basically, The Joy of Cooking for those who don't eat meat), had a nice, basic recipe for beans (generic) in olive oil. The preparation assumed dried beans (boil with aromatics — a quartered onion, bay, shallots — until tender) and that step probably didn't add much to the fresh lima beans, but I did boil them until tender, I just don't think the aromatics had enough contact with the beans to lend any flavor.

The real recipe begins with the cooked lima beans, which are then tossed with
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 toes garlic, minced

  • salt to taste
It's then served room temperature (or warmer) with a lemon wedge, which adds just the right flavor. The book recipe suggests diced shallot or green onion with the rest of the dressing, but we didn't have any and I could go either way about adding some next time. They turned out very nice, and I suspect we'll try the same basic recipe with frozen lima beans at some point when fresh ones aren't available.

For both dishes, I used the Spanish roja garlic we planted about this time last year. It has a great, assertive flavor.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Feeling Guilty

Not about not posting (I guess I've had a few spare moments where I might have put in an update, but if I did, I can't really say when they were ...), but about work and baby-tending' duties.

On the work side, I've had deadline after deadline after deadline since coming back from my all-too-short two weeks of paternity leave. I'm keeping up with the editorial director paperwork, but there is no time to look around the department to try to address long-simmering issues: It's more a matter of keeping flare-ups to a minimum. Plus, before Celeste, I typically worked at least a nine-hour day; I'm trying to limit myself to eight hours now, but it's nigh impossible to get everything I need to done.

Which leads to the home-front guilt.

I'm still getting home later than I'd like (and when I'm home, I'm sometimes trying to edit things or to proof pages or something), which limits what I can get done to help Evelin.

I do some baby-minding in the evening, and I get the dirty diapers out to the trash and the trash bins to the curb each garbage-pickup cycle, but beyond trying to get one load of laundry done each evening, I don't feel like I'm helping as much as I should.

Part of it is that I can't do the one big thing in Celeste's life — feed her. (I had been giving her one bottle a night, but since the doctor said she's clear of the jaundice, we're trying to go back to 100% breastmilk.) During the night, I wake up sometimes to help change her or to hold her while Evelin gets positioned for a feeding; and I try to forestall her waking in the morning to give Evelin a little more sleep as I'm getting ready to go to work. Evelin says I'm holding up my end of things, but it feels like I should be doing more.

Tuesday was Celeste's one-month check up. She declared jaundice-free without having to have a blood test and got her second Hepatitis B vaccine shot. But the exciting news was the measuring: 6 pounds, 8 ounces (almost a full pound above her birth weight and up nearly 1.75 pounds from her lowest weight).

Last night, while Evelin got a post-9 p.m. feeding nap, Celeste and I hung out downstairs, listening to the end of the New York–Twins game on the radio while watching the start of the Beloved BoSox–Angles game on MLB Gameday.

Celeste also had a good play bout on the playmate. She was swatting her monkey and elephant toys and pushing the hanging Taggie around, too.

We were both a little upset by the way the Twins game ended, but (after checking the score during an early morning feeding) we were very happy to have the Sox up 2–0 as we head back to Fenway.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Celeste hat nicht gern die deutsche Sprache.*

Part of it is because I stumble over words a lot (it's been years since I've had to speak German and in university I always did a better job with my accent and pronunciation than I did with remembering vocabulary), but there's just something about German that makes the little girl cry.

I want to at least expose Celeste to the sounds of other languages while she's young. I can't claim fluency, but I am trying to talk to her a little in German, Cajun French, and Spanish, as well as stray phrases I remember from other languages. Much of it is babbling, trying to convince her to go to sleep or just telling her how beautiful and smart she is or how happy her mother and I are to have her around, but hopefully, if nothing else, it will give those language mapping sections of her rapidly developing brain a little exercise until she's old enough for us to start trying some variation of Baby Sign.

But, getting back to the title of this post, for some reason, Celeste really doesn't cotton to German. For the most part, I'm speaking it in "parentese," but phrases in German seem more likely to encourage crying than to stop it. It could be she's just embarrassed by my efforts, but I'm not sure.

For a while a Cajun lullaby caused her some distress, but that might have been because I used it to try to calm her when she was getting her heel stuck over and over and over again while in hospital for the jaundice treatments. Now that (or variations on the fais-do-do theme) seem to calm her.

But telling her what a good little girl she is or how pretty she is, if I say it in German, just get little huffs that build to a full cry. Go figure.

*Assuming I wrote that correctly: "Celeste doesn't like the German language."

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Is It the End of September Already?

So tonight is the night that was supposed to be our last night as parents-to-be. Way, way, way back in January or February, we were given 1 October as Celeste's due date, instead it will be just a few days shy of the one-month anniversary of her birth.

Based on some of the childcare books, we can expect to see some changes in Celeste's habits once she's reached her "full term" point, but I'm not sure which changes are due to her being a 40 weeks gestation vs. those due to her being one month old. One thing is certain, she is getting bigger and heavier and cuter every day. (Official weigh-in is on Monday, so we'll find out exactly how much bigger and heavier she is then; the pediatrician refuses to measure cuteness.)

For the past week, Celeste has been sleeping relatively well, but there are some crying jags in the middle of the night and early morning, most of which seem to be soothed by being held. Evelin's a little worried that my habit of letting her sleep on my chest or in my arms when I get home from work (not to mention the grandmothers doing similar amounts of holding during the day) is contributing to this, but we'll see ...

Otherwise, her eating is going well; we stopped trying to bottlefeed after each nursing session. Instead, for the past week-and-a-half or so, we've been giving her one big (4 fluid ounce) bottle as the last feeding of the night (sometime between 10:00 p.m. and midnight, or so). Sometimes she is a very hungry baby bird and eats it all, other times she only wants about half.

This gives me a chance to feed her, and it fulfills the doctor's wish to have her get a couple of ounces of jaundice-fighting formula. Maybe on Monday, the doctor will say Celeste can go back to being exclusively breastfed, which will eliminate a little bit of daddytime (unless we use expressed breastmilk for a feeding or two), but it would let us let go of any formula-related guilt.

Other Stuff

Scary Blimps: I've always thought airships were cool, but the test security blimp they had floating over D.C. yesterday (totally white, no Goodyear logo) was more ominous than anything. I first spied it during my morning commute and it was hovering over the White House or something, but on my commute home in the evening, it looked like it was zipping along faster than I've ever seen an airship move. It really gave me the creeps.

ColaTurka: On Tuesday, I ran out at lunch to the Palestinian grocery near my office to pick up a big tin of olive oil. They usually have a good selection from Turkey, Tunisia, Greece, Lebanon, and elsewhere through out the region, but this time the only big tins were from Spain. I guess I'm a bit of snob, because I decided to see what the Greek grocery down the street had. I ended up with a 3-liter tin from Crete, which hopefully prove tasty.

As I was looking around the store to see if there was anything else I needed, I noticed some bottles of ColaTurka in the cooler. A while back, I saw the ColaTurka commercials Chevy Chase did, so I let curiosity get to me. It wasn't bad; it tasted kind of like RC, but a little less carbonated, but I didn't find myself with a bushy mustache or speaking Turkish ...

The Washington Grays: Okay, so baseball is coming back to D.C. I hope the stadium deal doesn't end up costing the taxpayers too much and that it helps revitalize that area of Southeast/Southwest, but one thing is certain — Mayor Anthony Williams is right: as long as D.C. doesn't have voting representation in Congress, the team should not be called the Senators. The Grays, in honor of the Negro leagues Homestead Grays who called D.C. home for a while is a perfect name ... even if it isn't a surefire marketing magnet. (See Michael Wilbon's column for more ...)

The Beloved BoSox: Boston has the Wild Card and unless something crazy happens over the next week, we'll be in the Bronx for Game 1 of the division series. So long as Pedro can stop psyching himself out, we should be able to close things out early and to get ready for whoever comes out tops in the West ... Tessie! You are the only, only, only!

Monday, September 27, 2004

We Haven't Slept but All Is Well

It's been a while since my last post and apparently it's causing worry in some quarters (sorry, Anita) ... but all is well.

Last week was my first back to work, and I ran into a lot of stuff that had piled up while I was gone (much of it was a project that should have been finished while I was on paternity leave but, for a variety of reasons not the fault of anyone who was working on it while I was out, it wasn't).

Last week was also Evelin's mother's week visiting to help with Celeste. It went really well, except when I got home each night, I wanted to hold and snuggle and comfort the baby and I had to keep on guard to keep the grandmother from trying to take her away from me. This week, my mother is visiting, so I'm sure it will be much of the same ...

Sleep is a precious commodity. Celeste has no real pattern yet, but she is having some suprisingly long wake periods (as long as three hours even; sometimes during the day, but other times in the wee hours of the morning). We have no idea why and sometimes nothing we do is right. Sometimes she just wants to be held (or kangaroo care or to dance around); other times a bit of baby massage or singing will work; sometimes the diaper needs replacing; other times nothing is right in the world.

Outside of the house, things are looking a little better. After Evelin's mother left on Saturday morning, I managed to get the grass/ogräs cut in between visits from various cousins. The garden, however, is in total shambles. I found some okra that were so large the pods were pulling the plants down. Tomatoes and peppers that have gone to rot on the vines (unfortunately) and numerous other examples of what bad farmers we've been this year. The birds have gotten to enjoy the raspberries at least, and I did get two ripe tomatoes before the raccoons or squirrels found them (but neither Evelin nor I can remember what variety we planted ... I think I blogged it in the spring, so I need to look back to see; ah, they're Brandywines and they're yummy).

Okay, to work, and I'll try to get back into the habit of posting ...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Nickname

In a comment, Karen (indirectly) reminded me that I forgot to mention Celeste's nickname. My Great Aunt Celestine was nicknamed "Cel," which I'm sure Celeste will encounter at some point, but I doubt we'll use it. One of my aunts, before she found out we were calling Celeste by her middle name, asked if we were going to shorten Elinore to Ellie, but, again, that's not the plan.

The only nickname we've used is Pippa (sometimes shortened to Pip).

Yes, there is no way to get Pippa from Celeste or Elinore, but it was the other name we really liked, but it didn't feel like a "real" name and couldn't settle upon using it. Traditionally, Pippa is a shortened form of Phillipa, but we really didn't like that name (plus Evelin's uncle/godfather is Phillip, and we didn't want him to think we'd named our daughter after him ...)

I'm noticing that we're using Pippa/Pip less and less now that Celeste is here, but that was her name for much of her time in utero. In fact, when I would read to her though a paper towel tube, I would begin each night's story with: "Attention, Pippa! This is your father speaking. Tonight's story is .…"

Soon after she was born, I leaned in and said, "Attention, Pippa! This is your father speaking ..." and she immediately calmed down and looked at me. Maybe it was my breath that was getting the reaction, but I'll continue to believe that she recognized my voice ...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

How Celeste Got Her Name

For a long time, Evelin and I knew we liked the name Celeste for a girl. We did have some back and forth over the exact form of the name we wanted to use, however.

The basic form Celeste was always on the table, but we also talked about Caelestis, Céleste, and Celestine. I liked the accent mark in Céleste and Evelin liked the Latin Caelestis, and Celestine was my father's paternal grandmother's name.

Beyond Celeste itself, we also were wondering about what should be her middle name or first name. For a long time, we were thinking Marie. Evelin favored it as a middle name (Celeste Marie) while I favored it as a first name (Marie Celeste). In either case, Evelin wasn't wild about using an accent mark on Celeste.

I liked Marie Celeste because that was the name Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used for his short story "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement," which was based on the legend of the ghost ship Mary Celeste, but Evelin wasn't swayed by this logic.

Back in late June, Evelin came up with the name Elinor as a possible first name. I like it, but wasn't sure about spelling it without a terminal "e." To me, the Elin letter cluster just looked too rigid, but adding an "e" to the end of the name helped soften things.

After we settled upon Elinor Céleste (using each of our preferred spellings), I looked through both our family trees and found several forms of both names:
  • Eléonore (Evelin's paternal grandmother's line, as recently as 1821)

  • Elinore (Evelin's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1685)

  • Eleanor (Evelin's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1550)

  • Eleanor (Carter's paternal grandmother's line, circa 1640)

  • Celesta (Carter's maternal grandfather's line, as recently as 1845)

  • Celeste (Carter's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1830)*

  • Celestine (Carter's paternal grandfather's line, three instances, most recently 1913)
In the end, we both compromised and used the 1685 spelling Elinore (with terminal "e") and the 1830 spelling Celeste (sans accent mark), and we put Celeste as the middle name.

As for calling Celeste by her middle name, Evelin and I both go by our middle names, so, with the addition of Celeste, we now have a family tradition of everyone being [first initial] [middle name] [surname].

*This person was actually named Mary Celeste, which takes things back to our original name thinking.

Friday, September 17, 2004

They Can Tell We're Not Greek ...

... and not just because I sometimes put the emphasis on the wrong syllable when asking for some σπανακόπιτα.

Celeste went to her first Greek festival today. We figured it'd be an easy outing if we went during the afternoon, instead of trying to deal with the evening or weekend madness, and it turned out pretty good. We had a nice bit of nosh, brought home some pastries, and got to show off the baby.

It was showing off the baby that tipped off our ethnicity (or at least our being non-Greek).

The festival was at the Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in D.C. (making this Celeste's first out-of-state trip, too). After a late lunch of spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα), tiropita (τυρόπιτα), and fasolakia (φασολάκια φρέσκα με ντομάτα), we headed into the fellowship hall of the church, which was set up as The Plaka. In addition to Greek books, CDs, packaged foods, and icons, this is where they had the pastries.

As we entered the hall, we were stopped at the raffle booth; the woman staffing it wanted to see the baby. The older man next to her made a little blessing over the baby and then spat. He then asked how old the baby was; when I said she was 13 days old, he said, "So I guess you're not Greek."

Apparently, the Greek custom is to keep the baby inside for the first 40 days. After which, his or her first trip is to the church for a formal presentation to the community.

The blessing and spitting, he said, were to ward off the evil eye. "Not that I believe in that," he said, but, 40 years ago, his sister had had the evil eye put on her in Greece and it had plagued her ever since, so he figured a little protection wouldn't hurt.

That makes two blessings Celeste has received so far. The morning after Celeste was born, a Roman Catholic priest stopped by to visit the woman Evelin was sharing the post-partum room with and to bless her baby. He asked if Evelin and Celeste wanted to join in, as Evelin said yes.

After chatting for a while, we moved on to the pastry stand and picked up an assortment of goodies to take home — some baklava (mπακλαβάς) and a piece each of galactobouriko (γαλακτομπούρεκο), melomakarona (μελομακάρονα), kourambiedes (κουραμπιέδες) and karithopita (καρυδόπιτα).

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Making Foie Gras

Traditionally, making foie gras is a pretty grim practice that involves force-feeding a goose until its liver is ripe for making pâte. Despite that, making foie gras is the best analogy I can think of for what it's like feeding Celeste.

Because of the jaundice, the doctors want us to feed her at least 1 fluid ounce of formula on top of what she gets nursing. The goal is 4 to 6 fl. oz. of formula each day. There are two reasons for this: first, she still needs to get her weight up and, second, the formula can help expel the bilirubin more efficiently than breast milk will.

As for her weight, Celeste fell from her birth weight of 5 pounds, 9 ounces to a low of 4 pounds, 14 ounces. That was early in the morning on Friday, after we'd checked her back into the hospital. As of Tuesday, she was back up to 5 pounds, 5 ounces (but we'd just fed her, so her actual weight may have been an ounce or two lighter). The next weigh-in is on Saturday when we go back to the pediatricians for another bilirubin check.

All in all, she seems to be doing well with the formula. There's no hesitancy about nursing, nor any confusion about the bottle vs. the breast. After all, the formula isn't nice and warm like Evelin, and when I give her the bottle we can't snuggle the way she does when breastfeeding. For the most part, she sucks down the formula pretty greedily, but there are times — particularly if she's sleepily after a good nursing session — when she has to be cajoled into finishing the bottle.

It is those times that I feel like I'm practically force-feeding her. Wait for a yawn, and move in with the bottle. Tickle her toes and/or belly, and move in with the bottle. Strip her down to her diaper and when she complains, move in with the bottle.

Although at times she'd rather sleep, she doesn't seem to mind the bottle (and often she'll take the ounce and then look around for more), but the foie gras image sticks in my mind. Of course, we're looking to fatten up her cheeks, not her liver.

Thinking of Bottles

We'd been planning to exclusively breastfeed Celeste, so Evelin and I never talked about bottles. Once we got home from the hospital, I found myself running out to the grocery store to see what I could find. We needed at least one bottle (although we've since bought more so we can have the formula measured out and ready to go on a moment's notice), but I had no idea what sort of system to get.

We ended up with Playtex Original Nursers. Since they use disposable drop-in bottle liners that don't need to be sterilized (we don't have a microwave and boiling bottles would seem to take forever), it seemed like a good choice for us. So far, it seems to be going well, but hopefully we'll be able to go back to exclusively breastfeeding once Celeste's weight is back up and the jaundice scare is finally resolved.

Thinking of Formula

Outside of anecdotal comments online, everything I've read online seems to say that all brands of formula are pretty much identical, so long as like variations are compared to like variations (i.e., Similac Advance vs. Enfamil Lipil, both are milk-based and have iron and DHA and ARA, and differ primarily in color and maybe a little in taste). But those anecdotes about babies having a bad reaction to switching formulas strike true after last night.

While at the hospital for jaundice, we were giving Celeste ready-to-feed Enfamil Lipil, but at home we had samples of Similac Advance powder, so we have been using that. We had one bottle of the ready-to-feed Enfamil left over from the hospital stay and we decided to give some of that to Celeste last night instead of mixing up more Similac. Big mistake.

First off, let me note that Celeste had no troubles with Enfamil while in hospital, and I can't say with certainty that it was the formula that caused her troubles, but it is the big variable I can point to as maybe having an effect.

The Enfamil feeding happened around 10:00 p.m. Pretty much from 11:30 on, Celeste was inconsolable. She would breastfeed intermittently, and would stop crying every now and then if she was walked around or if I did some kangaroo care with her, but most of the next six hours were spent crying. And most of today, she has been out cold. We went for a little outing to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton; Celeste never opened her eyes. She is feeding well, and greedily sucking down the Similac formula as well as the breast milk. Hopefully, tonight will be much less eventful.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

That Scene at the Beginning of The Lion King ...

How We Met Celeste

the first installment in a story of lifechanges arrived ...

It looks like today is a day for stories. In the middle of the night, I covered Celeste's jaundice and the return to the hospital. This entries goes back nine days to the night before Celeste's birth.

As I may have mentioned, K--- and T--- had long been scheduled to come down from Massachusetts for Labor Day Weekend. They arrived late Thursday night and Evelin took Friday off to hang out with them. When I got home, everyone was getting ready to head out to dinner.

Despite K--- being allergic to peppers (a not-uncommon ingredient in Latin cuisine), Evelin wanted us all to go to Samantha's, one of our favorite restaurants. As we were getting ready to go, I noticed an odd look on Evelin's face and I asked my all-too-common question of the past month: "Are you having contractions?" She just looked at me and nodded "yes" and then finished gathering her things and off to dinner we went.

[ASIDE: Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), by Laura Esquivel, makes much of the mystical connection between food and life and love and fate. If one were to page back about 36 weeks and 1 day, or so, they would find that Evelin and I had another very nice evening at Samantha's. I don't know if it was the food or what, but we did have to consider changing Celeste's name.]

Needless to say, I was having trouble concentrating during dinner. Evelin checked the time every now and then, but otherwise never let K--- and T--- on to what she was feeling. T--- and I both had the spinach enchiladas; K--- had the chicken stuffed with spinach and mushrooms; and Evelin had a tamale and the country chicken soup.

When we finally got home around 9:45 p.m. or so, I could ask Evelin what was up and she said that the contractions were irregular and she wasn't worried. Well, worry is one of my main responsibilities in this household, so I read through our instructions from the Maternity Center. They said for preterm labor (defined as prior to 37 weeks), to call the midwife if you felt five or more contractions, irregular or not, during any 60-minute period. Evelin fit that criteria, so we called.

The first thing we found out was that, because we were preterm, we could not give birth at the Maternity Center as planned. Instead, we had to go to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. The midwife was already there, and we were instructed to call if the contractions got more regular (and closer apart) and/or if Evelin's water broke.

With this in mind, Evelin took some calcium and water, and we went to bed, although it wasn't easy to get to sleep.

Around 1:57 a.m., I woke up and Evelin was up with a contraction and needing to go to the bathroom. We timed the contraction and then timed when the next one or two hit — about nine minutes apart. Once Evelin knew the spacing, she took some more calcium and went back sleep pretty well.

Every hour, I would awake about 57 minutes past the hour, and Evelin would be getting up to go to the bathroom with a contraction. They were staying regular, although sometimes they were focused more toward her back than her front, and Evelin was having some bloody show when she went to the bathroom, but not so much that she was worried. At 4:57 a.m., however, Evelin came back to bed saying, "I think my water just broke." This time, she'd awoken with a sharp contraction felt both in front and in her back.

I hopped up and grabbed the bag of clothes and things I'd finished packing the night before, grabbed the carseat we'd bought on Wednesday night, and off we went.

Along the way, Evelin needed me to pull over so that she could throw up once, but other than that (and passing a Gaithersburg City Police car just as we were merging onto I-270 from the Beltway at about 90 mph; he didn't turn on his lights, so I wasn't going to worry about it) it was an uneventful trip to the hospital. Along the way, we timed things and the contractions were three to four minutes apart.

We were in the Labor and Delivery room (we lucked out, coming long enough after a big wave of deliveries to get a big room to ourselves) by 4:50 a.m. While we waited for the midwife to show, the nurse ran through the basic questions and Evelin continued to have regular contractions. By 6:00 a.m., the midwife was there to check Evelin. She was at 8 centimeters and fully effaced. The midwife decided she'd better get into scrubs.

Because Evelin's group β strep (GBS) culture was taken on Thursday morning (and because it was six-something in the a.m., we didn't have culture results back in time for the delivery, so they had to treat her as if she was positive. This meant trying to get two courses of antibiotics into her, four hours apart, prior to delivery.

By 7:00 a.m., things were getting more uncomfortable for Evelin. The baby was definitely in transition (they had to keep adjusting where the fetal monitor was on Evelin's stomach) and headed out into the world. But the midwife wanted to hold off on checking Evelin as long as possible so as not to start any hospital "clock" about how long was too long to be in labor.

At 7:30 a.m., the midwife checked and Evelin was at 10 centimeters and feeling the urge to push. This is the point where HypnoBirthing kind of let us down. All night long, Evelin had been using relaxation and meditation techniques during the contractions, and while things weren't comfortable, it was all bearable. But the trick was to keep breathing through the contractions, which was counterproductive for pushing.

The midwife noticed this and offered to coach Evelin through the pushing. She accepted readily and, after about six big rounds of pushing, Celeste was born at 8:14 a.m.

She was cute and red and squealing. I didn't realize it at the time, but she sounded a lot like an infant panda does when first born: A plaintive, gasping shriek/squeal that was really cute.

Late-Night Update

I'm downstairs listening into to every rustle and squeak on the baby monitor; Evelin is getting some rest before Celeste's 1:30 a.m. feeding. This morning (well, it's a little past midnight as I write this, so yesterday morning), Celeste marked the anniversary of her first meeting us. Unfortunately, the celebration took place in the hospital.

Everyone is okay. Celeste is doing great. Evelin is fine. I'm addicted to Diet Coke and very clumsy, but otherwise alright.

On Tuesday, we took Celeste in for her first pediatrician's visit. Everything went well, but because she was a little jaundiced when we left the hospital, they did a heel-stick for a bilirubin test. The level at the hospital on Sunday was 14.2; the Tuesday test was 14.7, which was still within the "we need to watch it" level, but not a serious concern. We were told to come back on Thursday for a follow up heel-stick.

Thursday, before lunch, the doctor called with the results of that morning's test: The levels were too high for the office machine to read. We had to head to the hospital to have the test performed. We went in and, after a longer than expected wait because we were trying to get things done as the pediatrician's office was closed for lunch and the hospital lab was having shifts change and people heading out for lunch. None of that was very comforting for this anxious father.

After the blood was drawn, we headed home to wait for the results. When the doctor finally called, the results were 21.4. We were told to head to the hospital right away and that Celeste would have to be admitted for treatment.

And, as we were heading out to the hospital, my parents called to say that their plane had landed. (They'd flown up to meet their new granddaughter.) While gathering some things to take with us, I filled them in quickly on what was going on. But I neglected to tell them which hospital we were going to. I eventually got back in touch with them (I couldn't use a mobile phone from the pediatrics ward or place a long-distance call to their cells, and I didn't know the phone number of the hotel they were staying in), but it was after visiting hours so they had to wait another day to meet Celeste.

Getting Celeste admitted, fitted with a little headband to protect her eyes, and put under those lights and then being told all we can do is wait was the most terrifying thing I think I've ever gone through. I tried hard not to, but there were tears.

Over the first night, Evelin and I weren't really sure what we needed to be doing except to feed Celeste and to talk to her even if we couldn’t spend much time holding or snuggling her. The nurse did say we could touch her under the lights, so there was a good bit of holding of her little hands and feet at times.

Because jaundice is caused by an excess of bilirubin and bilirubin can be expelled through the body's waste system, the doctor wanted us to feed Celeste every two hours to help ensure that she was excreting enough and to ensure that she stay hydrated under the lights. She also wanted us to supplement the breastfeeding with formula.

Evelin and I had never really talked about formula, but at that moment we both were pretty firm in wanting to avoid giving Celeste something foreign, so we got the doctor to agree to let us try to pump after Celeste breastfed to see how much additional milk we could bank. The goal was to give her at least 30 milliliters of additional food beyond what she'd take in breastfeeding.

Feeding every two hours and trying to pump extra took a serious toll on Evelin, and about six hours later we were facing the option of either using some formula or starting an IV on Celeste. We opted for the formula. The night nurse also intervened on our behalf and we were able to change the feedings to every three hours or so, which helped Evelin's milk supply. For the rest of the hospital stay (and even now, at least until Celeste gets back above her birth weight and/or gets a bit past her original due date), we would give her the breast first, followed by whatever breast milk had been expressed after the previous feeding, plus some formula. And, more often than not, she ate it all.

After that first night, things started to feel better. Celeste was having fairly regular eliminations* and her bilirubin levels were starting to recede slowly. And, later that morning, my parents got to meet her for the first time. Since Celeste could spend a little bit of time away from the lights to be fed, my folks did get a chance to hold her before I ran home with them to pick up some clean clothes for Evelin.

The hospital room was pretty small, so my parents didn't spend their entire visit in the room with Evelin, Celeste, and me. Instead they hung out at our house a bit, helping straighten up some of the mess that quickly accumulates when you have a newborn. My mom also picked some okra and tomatoes from the garden, which were converted into an okra creole and some red pasta gravy. It was really not the visit they'd planned, but it was a big help to us ...

Back at the hospital, Evelin and I had another long day and night, but all the early signs were good. The bilirubin levels were dropping at a respectable rate and they decided to stop taking blood every four hours from Celeste, which was a good thing because I think her heels will be scarred for life after this. Instead, they went to every 12 hours for the heel-sticks.

We were feeling much better about everything and could even joke about the hospital bassinet with the anti-jaundice lights looking like a baby aquarium.

Because nothing can go smoothly, however, this lead to its own problems -- Saturday's 6:00 a.m. blood draw was lost. Or at least that's what we guess happened. The phlebotomist came and took the blood, but the lab never got results up to the doctors. At 9:00 a.m. or so, the resident on duty did a draw, but the sample clotted, necessitating yet another heel-stick around noon. When the results finally came back, the levels were down to around 11, which was excellent.

Next we turned off the lights and had to wait a few more hours to make sure that without the lights the levels did not rebound too much. But without the lights we were able to hold Celeste and my folks were able to have a lot more quality time with her.

Sometime around 6:00 p.m., we got the final blood test results -- 10.8 -- and we were discharged with orders to follow up with the pediatrician on Monday. Our discharge happened at the perfect time for my parents to help us carry everything out to the car before they had to head to the airport for their flight back to Louisiana.

Now Evelin, Celeste, and I are back home with the goal of keeping Celeste out of the hospital for at least an entire week.

* I guess it is a truism: You cannot read a new parent's blog without running into more than a few entries about poop.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Exciting, Scary, Sleepless

Well, Celeste has made it through two nights at home. She really likes hanging out with us and seems to have a bit of day-night confusion: She sleeps for longer stretches (and a little more independently) during the day than at night. And she really doesn't like that the doctor wants us to wake her up every two to three hours to feed.

But what she really seems to love is to sleep on one of us. Just lay down in bed or lean back in a recliner or other soft chair and she snuggles up on my or Evelin's chest like an Anne Geddes baby. It's so sweet and comfortable and I can still feel her warmth on my sternum even though it's been more than an hour since Evelin took her away for a snack and a nap.

I still need to post the birth story and other tales of the first week of fatherhood, but right now I think I need to move laundry to the dryer and get back to making a tomato tart for dinner. (Paternity leave, even if it's involving lots of phone calls and e-mail exchanges, is giving me time to do a little bit of cooking, which is good. Plus K--- and T---, who drove down from Massachusetts for Labor Day Weekend (it turned out to be a bit quite the different visit from what they'd expected), brought us tons of tomatoes that are going to go bad if I don't do something drastic with them ...)

Thanks for all the well wishes everyone!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Lifechanges ... Arrived

And her name is Elinore Celeste. Born this morning at 8:14, weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and measuring 18.5 inches long. Mother and baby are doing well.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"Try to Wait a Few Days ..."

That's the midwife's advice. Tomorrow, Evelin is 36 weeks. This morning she was 80% effaced and the midwife could feel some bulging of the membranes, but she didn't think labor was imminent or anything. It seems the baby is likely to come early, but it could still be three or more weeks before anything starts to happen.

Last night, as I was packing up things to go home for the evening, Evelin called suggesting that I go ahead and buy the infant carseat. We went with the Graco SnugRide, Colby pattern. It wasn't too hard to get set up in the T.R.U.C.K., but we haven't had it checked yet: I'm sure that's when I'll find out how shoddy of a job I did installing it.

The one thing that went wrong with it was, while assembling the canopy, one of the plastic canopy supports snapped as I was putting it together. Pretty flimsy plastic on that part and not the smoothest way to set things up. Fortunately, they said they can send me out new pieces.

Now, I just have to figure out how to get various work projects rolling so that I'm covered ... just in case the baby doesn't want to wait a week or three.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bear of Very Little Brain

In addition to the Richard Scarry and Sandra Boyton stories I've been reading to the baby through a paper-towel tube, a little while ago I added some A.A. Milne to the mix. I have often mentioned Tian Tian and Winnie the Pooh in the same breath. Both are very food-motivated, but the way both bears acts could be considered a sign of "very little brain."

The same cannot be said for Juan, a spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) at Zoo Berlin. On Sunday, Juan decided the standard enrichment items the zookeepers offered weren't interesting enough, so he decided to go walkabout.

Using a log to cross a moat, he scaled the enclosure wall, and wandered through the zoo grounds for about half an hour before being darted and returned to his enclosure. [ BBC | | Fototour ( | Berliner Morgenpost ]

According to Der Tagesspeiegel, Juan is 6 years old and probably starting to look for new territory to call his own. (Currently, he shares his enclosure with his parents, Navarro and Isabel.) To accommodate those needs, it looks like Zoo Berlin is looking to ship him off to another zoo.

According to the BBC, although some parents were worried when Juan headed to the children's playground, Zoo Berlin Deputy Director Heiner Klös was not concerned: "Spectacled bears eat both vegetables and meat but children tend not to be on their menu," he said. "I'd have been a lot more worried if one of our polar bears had escaped."

Interestingly, spectacled bears are the closest Ursidae relative to giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Tian Tian did escape once, but it was only from the main yard into a keeper area where food is stored. He immediately set himself down to have a snack and never made it to any unconfined area.

Unrelated Note

I will not gloat. I will remain calm. 3.5 games back. And I can think of 22 reasons to absolutely love the Cleveland Indians (and here's a 23rd reason: we don't play them again this year). "Everybody's having fun ..."

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Overly Excitable

Tenterhooks. Its one of those words that is easy to misinterpret as an eggcorn. Still whether it is on tenterhooks or on tenderhooks, I am just plain on edge.

Last week, Evelin told me the baby had dropped. I immediately asked if she was feeling contractions.

On Friday, she thought she was feeling some Braxton-Hicks contractions. I immediately glommed on to the word contraction.

On Sunday, she said it looked like her mucous plug was starting to break up. I immediately asked if she was feeling contractions.

Yesterday, she was tired in the afternoon and her hands were a little puffy and arthritic feeling. I immediately start wondering if that is some sign of labor.

As of today, Evelin is at 35 weeks, 5 days. Even though the moon was full over the weekend, the baby still has a bit of time in utero. Plus we still have to get a carseat. And take the infant CPR class. And get those Funkis things painted and up on the wall. And. And. And. ...