Sunday, July 31, 2005

Baby Jogger

Red Sox Baby Clothing -- Jogging SetSo I got an e-mail this evening from Wacky Planet about some new Red Sox hats and while wandering around the site, I was asking Evelin whether or not Celeste needed a Red Sox cheerleader outfit (both of us think not) or Red Sox nylon track suit or perhaps a Red Sox hoodie and sweat pants.

I started to argue in favor of the later when Evelin made the hard-to-argue-with point: "Does she really need a Red Sox jogging suit? How often does Celeste go jogging anyway?"

In related thoughts: Go Sox! After all that Manny drama, it was great to see him come in and get the clutch, game-winning single. Although it's fun to think what Theo could do if Manny's salary were foisted off on the Mets or something, I still like having Manny around.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Slack Day

It was a fairly gray, overcast day today. Nothing much happening; nothing much doing. I did get over to the tire place to have the flat on the T.R.U.C.K. fixed, and I picked up new windshield wipers for both vehicles, but other than that it was mostly non-eventful.

One bigish thing is that Celeste is running a fever and drooling like a mad woman. When she woke this morning, she was 102.2°F, but Infant Motrin knocked that down and she was feeling a lot better pretty quickly. Around noon, when the Motrin was starting to wear off, she was getting cranky again, and the fever was back up to 101.2°F. The drool, we figure, is teething-related and fevers can accompany teething (although 102.2°F is high for teething), so we're not too worried at this point, but we are monitoring her, giving her lots of fluids, and trying to keep her on the cool side. Hopefully, if it isn't teething-related, it's just a little bug helping to build her immune system and she'll be better tomorrow or Monday.

The other thing was that I saw a hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus) for the first time. I glanced out the window while washing dishes (new dishwasher is due to arrive on Tuesday) and he was just going to town on the flower stalk of one of our Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) bushes. After he flew off, I went to look and he really did tear apart bits of the stalk; it was pretty neat.

Celeste and I tried to have a nap this afternoon; I was more into than she was. While she did eventually conk out for about an hour and a quarter, I was in and out of sleep for a few hours. I guess things are catching up with me. When we have a "nap buddy" afternoon, I usually spend the first 15 minutes or so pretending to sleep while Celeste wiggles around on the bed, kicks me in the face and chest, tries to force-feed me her pacifier, etc. Eventually, she settles down (sometimes after I'm no longer pretending to sleep) and goes to sleep, allowing me to either continue my nap or to read for a while. Today, I started reading, but was pretty soon back asleep.

For dinner, I made us a nice risotto. I had some zucchini leftover from Thursday's suzette pie, so I put together the following and it worked out pretty well:

Zucchini–Porcini Risotto
  • 12 ounce bag of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 toes garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 14 cup chardonnay
  • 134 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
Soak the mushrooms in two cups of hot water laced with 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar for about 30 minutes. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter and reserve; rinse the mushrooms to remove any grit.

In a pressure cooker, heat olive oil and sauté onions, shallot, garlic, and zucchini over medium-high heat. Add salt and pepper and continue to sauté until onions are translucent. Add bay leaves, rice and wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Add vegetable stock and 2 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid.

When it comes to a boil, close the pressure cooker and bring heat up to the first ring. Hold at that temperature for 8 to 10 minutes. Release pressure, remove the bay leaves, and stir in the cheese. Let continue to cook until the desired consistency is reached.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Garlic-Breath Baby

We're out of it at the moment, but Celeste is really digging hummus right now. She'll eat up spoonful after spoonful. Adding that to her back-and-forth relationship with dolmas and her love of ΦΑΓΕ yoghurt, and this girl seems destined to live Levantine food. Of course it could just be a matter of what we feed her, but she does wear the garlic-breath well ...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Faltering Steps & Sleep, Precious Sleep

Celeste's holding onto a hand and staggering took a leap forward into the hands-free realm. She wouldn't do it for me this afternoon, but this morning she twice let go of Evelin's hand, stood for about five seconds and pitched forward two or three steps into Evelin's arms. It's not quite walking, but it's two to three steps closer than she's been before. That's cool. And scary. At least she isn't pulling herself up yet ...

That's the "faltering steps," the sleep side of things ... who can tell. Last night, she had a crazy awake period around 10:30/11:00 p.m. Tonight, she was tired at 5:00 p.m., had a good dinner, a nice bath, and then decided to hell with sleep, I'm staying up ... for three more hours. And she was bonkers during that time, part of which Evelin spent playing/trying to coax her to sleep while I finished making a Suzette Pie — it turned out pretty good; I think I'd precook the squashes some next time and change the herbs to espazote or something, but it was tasty). I then got to try to soothe her while Evelin waited for the pie to finish cooking and to have a slice or two ... In the end, Evelin nursed her to sleep, which is probably suboptimal, but at least <knockwood>she's stayed down thus far</knockwood>.

Other adventures

Celeste and I found out today that while the Baby Jogger stroller is very cool, you cannot fit a watermelon and a baby in it. Since it was the first nice day in a while, we walked to the farmers market and the only thing we came home with was a nice watermelon, but, soon after handing over my cash, I discovered that the under-baby stowage area is way too small for a watermelon; the net in front of the driver can accommodate a watermelon, but it pushes the baby forward at an uncomfortable angle; and the footrest is a bad place to try to balance anything that makes a tempting target for kicking.

I asked Celeste to hold the melon on the ride home and she just looked at me like I was out of my gourd (pun totally intended). So I tried putting it atop the sunshade. That worked for a while, but the velcro started to loosen or something and the melon gradually pushed the shade down until it touched Celeste's head, upsetting her greatly.

In the end for the last mile or so, I just carried the melon. We haven't cut it yet; it better be sweet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Confused by Neckwear

Celeste was laughing at me this morning. Not because she decided to wake around 5:30 a.m., no because I had a meeting downtown which meant wearing a tie. My office is a casual one and I rarely end up going to work wearing something other than jeans and a T-shirt (in winter maybe it'll be a flannel shirt or a sweater). Since Celeste was born, I think there's been one day where she had the opportunity to see me in a tie, and that day I might have left for the office before she woke up.

At first she gave me the "Hey, it's daddy!" look (which is always nice to see), but then she wrinkled up her face and let out a little "huh" noise. I bent down to talk to her and she just kept looking at this thing swinging from my neck. Thankfully, she didn't try giving it a big tug or anything, but she did bat at it a few times.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Birthday Flat Tire

Back in 2002, I spent most of my birthday morning in the neutral ground in front of the Canadian Embassy waiting for AAA to show up. I had a flat tire and that was when I discovered that the jack in the trunk was more rust than tool.

This was during the World Cup and I was desperately wanting to know the results of the Poland–Portugal match because it would help determine whether or not Team USA would advance to the next round. The tow truck driver who finally showed several hours later than expected, turned out to have played soccer professionally in Egypt, but he hadn't been paying attention to Group D; the same was true for the Moroccan guy at the gas station.

But all that has nothing to do with today's birthday flat. First off, it's Evelin's birthday, not mine.

A bit before 11:00 a.m. I got a call at work from Evelin. She and Celeste had made a run to Target and she though the T.R.U.C.K. was driving funny, but she waited until she got to the store to find out the rear passenger-side tire was going flat. She and Celeste went ahead and picked up the things they needed, and when she got back to the parking lot the tire had no air left in it.

After talking about it some, we all decided that she and Celeste would walk home and I would cut out of the office a little bit early to take care of the flat before Evelin had to get to work. Target is a little over a mile from our house, but it was quite hot and humid today, and the air quality is in the icky category.

Long story short: I left my car at the house, walked up to Target, changed the tire and got home in time for Evelin to get to work. And it was hot, humid and icky.

While this was going on, Celeste was napping. On the walk back from Target, Evelin had had to work to keep her awake and she was in bed by 11:30 a.m. She ended up sleeping until 1:45 p.m. — a good two hours and 15 minutes — which meant she was ready for her afternoon with me.

In addition to a quick trip to the grocery for some birthday supplies, Celeste spent a good bit of time reading, including flipping through the latest issue of BabyTalk and giggling at some of the photos and advertisements.

She also played a little soccer. Basically, while holding my hands to walk, she would bump into her little Size 0 Lego soccer ball pushing it forward. At first I think it was annoying her, but there were a few times where she looked like she was aiming and giving it a good kick.

Getting Worse

Okay, so the new sleep regime is not yet in place. Part of it is due to a leap, we think, but a lot of the problem is probably teething.

Yesterday, after her good night of sleep (midnight–6:00 a.m.), Celeste didn't want to nap. She finally gave in around 11:00 a.m. or so, but only slept for about a half hour. That afternoon, however, she slept from a bit past 2:00 p.m. until after 5:00 p.m. A three-plus-hour nap into late in the day.

She stayed up a bit late to have dinner with us (whole-wheat pasta and Trader Joe's vegetarian meatballs — neither of us were up to cooking much). During the meal, Celeste gnawed on some pasta and sampled a wheatball, but she really dug her slice of frozen asian pear. By 8:00 p.m. she was in bed, and I wasn't too late behind her, although sleep wasn't coming easy.

Evelin fed her a little before midnight again, but a hour later, she was up again ... and she stayed up for well over an hour. We tried a bunch of soothing tricks (and redosed her with Infant Motrin as soon as she hit the six-hours-since-last-dose mark — sometime around 1:45 a.m.), ranging from various holding postures to letting her come into the big bed to leaving her alone to begging and pleading. Finally she dropped off after an extended bout of comfort nursing and a half-hour before I had to get up to head to the office.

Hopefully, I'll get a call from Evelin in a few hours saying that Celeste slept through until 8:00 a.m., but even if that is the case it leaves me wondering what's in store for tonight.

One of the front incisors is in and the second one is pushing hard at her gums. We're obviously focused on the front teeth, which are the most visible, but she's almost 11 months, so I guess she could have her first molars looking to erupt sometime soon, too. I'm betting that won't be fun for any of us.

UPDATE: (08:12) Well, after I left, Celeste slept straight through until about 7:30 a.m. Evelin said she seemed well rested and ready for the day, but a rash we noticed yesterday evening seems to be spreading around her neck and torso.

We did go a little crazy introducing several new foods at once because we were sharing our food with her (mushrooms and red bell peppers grilled with a marinade that included sesame oil; stuffed grape leaves; veggie burgers; egg yolk; ... all within the past four days, and there may have been one or two other new things, too), so it could be a reaction to that, or it might be because of the dryer sheet that some of her clothes were washed with, or it might be prickly heat or some other ailment due to the hot, humid weather we're having right now. For the moment, she seems not to be bothered by it, so we're going to try to step back a week or two in what she's eating, rewash her clothes, and watch things to see if it clears up or continues to spread.

Monday, July 25, 2005

You Don't Have Laces?

After our hike yesterday, I started wondering if a rear-view mirror that could clip on to my glasses would help keep an eye on what's going on with Celeste while she's in the Piggyback. The Piggyback comes with a small mirror on a bungee cord, but it takes a bit of effort to stretch it out to an angle where Celeste can be seen and I've been known to step off the trail and/or into a tree while paying attention, so walking while trying to position the mirror could prove a bad thing in the long run.

Poking around at REI during lunch I found this CycleAware Heads Up! "eyewear-mounted mirror." I think it'll work, although the clip doesn't really snug down on the thin arms of my usual pair of eyeglasses. We'll see.

While there, I also wanted to pick up a new pair of boot laces. Adventure store. Big hiking boot department. No laces. Apparently, they've been out of stock or something for a while now and hope to have some in by the end of the week. That just seems wrong to me.

Other Things

SLEEP: Last night, Celeste did better that I did. She did wake up around 11:00 p.m. and Evelin fed her, but after that she slept through until about 6:00 a.m. I woke around 4:00 a.m. and headed down to the couch to read for a bit, and thus was ready to spring into action for those first few cries. A quick pacification and blanket straightening and she was back asleep for another half hour. I considered this a good night; Evelin, who was the one who woke at 11:00, was less sure. We'll see how tonight goes — Celeste often wakes about 15 minutes after I leave the house on my early-morning days.

HUMOR: McSweeney's has a great selection of George W. Bush jokes, although "some of them seem gratuitous and mean-spirited." (Via White House Briefing of all places)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sleeping In

After playing hooky from work on Friday to get a haircut and a little relaxation and then dealing with the yard on Saturday, Evelin, Celeste and I had time for a little hike this morning. We loaded up the Piggyback and headed off to Jug Bay Natural Area. We hadn't been there before, but the walk through the Black Walnut Creek Nature Study Area looked short enough to keep Celeste interested but not too short; the only downside was that it was about 20 minutes outside the Beltway and after Celeste's crazy night (more on that in a moment) we knew she was skipping her morning nap, but we weren't sure what she'd be up for.

It turned out pretty good: Only about 1.25 miles, but she seemed to be enjoy herself, spending much of the walk "singing" — at least that's what Evelin thought she was doing. We heard birds, but didn't really see many, but there were tons of dragonflies around and a bunch of frogs, as well as one deer.

Skipping back through the last night or two, we're trying to cut out Celeste's middle-of-the-night feeding. A while ago, she dropped (with a little encouragement) her 4:00 a.m. feeding, but shifted her 11:00 p.m. feeding to somewhere around midnight. This past week, we started trying to just soothe her in the middle of the night with the goal of getting her to sleep through to morning.

On Friday night/Saturday morning, during a big thunderstorm, she woke around 2:00 a.m. screaming. I tried calming her for a while, but Evelin ended up having to come in and nurse her back to sleep. On Saturday night/Sunday morning, there was no thunderstorm, but she was wide awake at a little past 2:00 a.m. After a about an hour-and-a-half, Evelin again had to rescue me (Celeste wasn't crying this time, but she wasn't going to sleep) and ended up nursing her to sleep. In the end, she made up for some of the awake time by sleeping until around 8:00 a.m., but it's not quite what we're aiming for.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Celeste on Suess

Yesterday, Celeste spent a good deal of time digging through her books. In fairly quick succession, she read Green Eggs and Ham, Buenas Noches, Gorila, Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Peek-a-Boo!, and about five other books.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Must Watch Myself

I know I have to be careful not to laugh at some things or else Celeste will repeat an undesired action with the hope of getting more approving laughter from me ... but when she take a big slug of water and then imitates the Jet d’Eau it's hard not to laugh ...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Doggie Bigot

I'm feeling a little bad because I'm seeing some things in myself that I don't like.

The couple who gave us the dishwasher as part of the F²/D² also had a dog that they needed to get find a new home for. The problem for them was that they were a two-dog household and she (the dog in question) was having some dog aggression issues with the other (older) dog who had some form of epilepsy. The medicine would control things, but when the older dog would have a seizure, the other dog would try to attack. They had a two-year-old with a new baby due in autumn and there were concerns that if one of the kids tried to get in between the dogs they might get hurt.

We met the dog who needs a home and she seemed really submissive and sweet. She did a lot of face-licking, which Celeste loved, and was really cute.

The problem was that she is a pit bull/doberman mix who was rescued as a puppy from a fighting dog situation. Had she grown up with the people she was taken from, she'd be a fighter.

That's what has me nervous. Our yard isn't dog-proof — two sides have decent fences that belong to our neighbors; the third side is our fence, but it's in very bad shape (which generally isn't a big deal because it's overgrown with ivy, forsythia, and other plants); and the fourth side is unfenced — and there are dogs a yard or two over, which could be a problem. Plus, we see a fair number of dogs being walked in our neighborhood: There would be plenty of opportunities for a bad dog interaction.

But the bit that has me second-guessing myself is that I am nervous about Celeste and the dog. She was really sweet in her house, but I worry that the stress of adapting to our pack might set her off and cause a problem. Plus she's a very strong dog and if Evelin were walking her and trying to control the stroller at the same time ... it's easy to imagine something bad happening.

So, right now I'm feeling guilty for turning away a dog that needs a home, but I keep thinking it's the right move for us, but I'm not 100% sure. Sigh. If anyone is in the D.C. area and is able to take a sweet, crate-trained five-year-old pit bull/doberman mix (no other dogs in the house), let me know: I can try to put you in contact with the dog's owners.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mojo Memories

Flipping though the new entries on my Bloglines RSS reader, a throw-away reference to Mojo Nixon on Drink at Work sent me down memory lane. Reading through his bio, which is beyond funny got me started stumbling through more than a few memories of Mojo shows at Tipitina's and other venues.

Even better, it lead me to Mojo's Bootleg Shack where there's a 1987 recording from Baton Rouge. I wasn't at that show, but I was at Tip's a few days earlier to see Mojo and Skid Roper. If I recall correctly, the opening acts were The Dick Nixons and Too Much Joy, but that might have been a different bill.

The thing that stands out was that during "Mushroom Maniac" (a call-and-response ode to psychedelic mushrooms) Mojo decided he wanted to jump off the stage into the crowd to try to throw the water bottle he was using to pound out the rhythm through a basketball hoop. He started by working the line "Y'all gonna part," which the crowd parroted back to him, "Like the Red Sea." It took two or three times and much arm waving before we in the audience got the hint.

After leaping to the floor, Mojo took a few throws at the hoop, and then went to jump back on to the stage. He slipped and hit the floor hard. Skid leaned over the stage and quickly said "Uhm, show's over."

After a little confusion, a quiet call is heard: "Who the fuck?" A few voices in the crowd provided the response: "Who the fuck?" "Spilled their beer?" "Spilled their beer." "I think I broke." "I think I broke." "My leg." "My leg." Pretty quickly after that Mojo was back on stage for the rest of a very raucous show.

Two other Mojo memories:

Another evening at Tip's, I got the chance to talk briefly with Mojo before the first act started — he was waiting by the bar for food or a drink or something when I was trying.

And I saw Mojo's with the Toadliquors backing him up during South by Southwest in 1991. He had the audience do the "Magic Mushrooms Dance," which turned out to be the MC Hammer "Hammertime" shuffle.


Celeste is such a dog person. We were at the farmers market this afternoon (it's a small one — three farm stands, one baker, two other stands — but very crowded) and after picking up some zucchini, green beans, and bicolor corn, Celeste and I were trying to decide whether or not to pile into the line for peaches.

I was carrying Celeste and she was looking over my shoulder at various people. I noticed the dog first (a cute Australian shepherd who'd gotten a buzz cut for the summer) and tried to point him out to Celeste. It took her a few moments, but she finally saw him and let out a loud "Dɑɑ!" started leaning and stretching out both arms toward the dog; it was the same move she does when Evelin walks in the door.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I Have to Wait How Long?

For Book Seven that is. Evelin, pitying me after yesterday's Freecycle Fiasco/Dishwasher Disaster (a.k.a. the F²/D²) let me read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince first. She also let me spend a good chunk of today reading (in no small part so I'd finish and let her read it, I'm sure). I am very, very lucky to be married to such a wonderful woman.

No spoilers; I'll just say I enjoyed it and really, really, really would like Book Seven to be released very soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Abject Failure

We needed a new dishwasher and, well, a free one sounded like a good idea at the time. Long story short: Sears will be sending over a new dishwasher at some point in the nearish future.

The Freecycle dishwasher turned out to have completely different-sized fittings from our old leaking one.

The electrical connection was no problem (although I found out that the dishwasher is on the "Main Lights" breaker instead of the kitchen or another sensible option).

The wastewater tube needed to be smaller than the existing one (and the one attached to the Freecycle dishwasher wasn't long enough to reach the disposal); so part of the first trip to Home Depot was a long piece of appropriate-sized hose, some clamps, a reducer to connect from the disposal to the hose, and a bard to mate the reducer with the hose. The new hose was on the long side (and at risk of kinking), so I had to trim it.

Then there was the water inlet. This is what doomed me. Dishwashers need and elbow piece that connects the solenoid with the supply line. The old elbow was still attached to the dishwasher with years of plumbers putty and other gunk. I figured it'd be best to leave that in place and to find a reducer or some other connector to fit it with my supply line. Three trips to Home Depot, one to Strosnider's Hardware, one to East-West ACE Hardware, and one to Northeast Plumbing Supply and eight connectors later, I had nothing.

I don't know if the old elbow was some odd size manufactured for six weeks in the 1970s in Guinea-Bissau or what, but I couldn't find anything that matched. 38" was too small; 12" was too big; flared, FIP, compression — nothing worked. Finally, I decided to risk damaging something to get the old elbow off and ... big surprise ... I damaged part of the solenoid.

With the expectation that no matter what, the new dishwasher would now leak (albeit it a much less visible and therefore probably more damaging place/way), I checked Consumer Reports and started looking for a new dishwasher. It is something we needed, but I really would have liked to have had a different way of going about getting a new one ... and now I need to see if the city will cart away two dishwashers for us.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Scary Beards

Apparently, bearded men scare little children. Years ago, while in line at the grocery store, I noticed that the toddler sitting in the cart ahead of us was staring at me. I started sticking my tongue out at him and making faces. Pretty soon, the child was in tears. I immediately started apologizing to his mother and she dismisses it, saying "Oh, his pediatrician has a beard. He thinks you're going to give him a shot."

Apparently, even children with beardless pediatricians can be scared by bearded men, however.

When I got home, I opened the door to see my niece K--- and sister-in-law M--- in the living room. K--- immediately froze and just stared at me. I said hello to her, but didn't approach or make any sudden moves. I could see she was a little unsure of me, so I figured we'd take things easy.

Later in the evening, Celeste and K--- were sharing a bath and Evelin and M--- were trying to get a picture with both of them looking and smiling. I thought I'd be funny and pop my head in and make a face. The first time it got a good "dæ di!" from Celeste and a what-the-hell look from K---; the second time, K--- was in tears.

Throughout the evening, K--- has been watching me very warily, so I've been trying to stay out of her way. Maybe tomorrow, if she's a little more comfortable in a strange place, we can be properly reintroduced ... and I won't be as scary (although, if she watches me installing the dishwasher, that could be scary for many reasons ...)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Freecycle Strikes

I've mentioned how much Evelin loves giving stuff away on Freecycle (one of her first comments after I bought the new phones was, "So, I can Freecycle the old ones, right?"), but tonight we made the deal for our first Freecycle intake — an old dishwasher.

Despite my previous efforts, the leaking on our old dishwasher continues, so when Evelin saw someone offering a dishwasher for free, she jumped. Unfortunately, that was a week or so ago and it was taken by the time she could e-mail. But this evening she checked her e-mail and the dishwasher was once again available and she pounced.

I have a great deal of trepidation about this (mostly about actually moving the Freecycled unit into the T.R.U.C.K., moving it from the T.R.U.C.K. to the kitchen, and then moving the old unit out to the curb), and the fact that we have to pick it up tomorrow morning adds to my concerns, but we'll see ... I guess, at worst, we either have to say "sorry, but we're passing" when we get there in the morning, or we have to pay a neighbor kid to help wrestle the thing into our house. And then I get to see about connecting a water in, a water out, and the electrical (and hopefully that'll be all there is to it).

[UPDATE: Okay, fears of weight were greatly undeserved (at least for the Freecycled unit; I won't know how much our old dishwasher will end up weighing until tonight or tomorrow). D---, the guy who was giving it away, and I braced ourselves when we went to lift it and almost through the thing into the ceiling; it was a lot lighter than we'd guessed. It fit okay into the T.R.U.C.K., although one of the hoses hadn't drained all the way, dumping some water into the back of the vehicle, but it wasn't too bad. The unit is older than our current one, I think, but hopefully it will install easily and, most importantly, not leak.]

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Celeste made another move today. Since my folks were here the last week in June (and especially since seeing her cousins running about over 4th of July Weekend), Celeste has been working at walking. She can pull herself up if we offer her fingers/hands to grab on to, and she will gladly lead us around the house to the point of fearlessly stepping off stairs into space if we let her. On Sunday, she walked me over to a Matisse print we have propped up against the wall in the dining room (it had to be moved for a shelf and we don’t know where it will go next) and plopped herself down in front of it. I think she said "Gauguin?" and I had to explain that she had the wrong painter (and really, the print, "Femme à l'Amphore et Grenade," looks way too Modern to confuse with anything a Post-Impressionist like Gauguin would have done).

Anyway, this afternoon, stuck with a dirty diaper and the need to drop her someplace secure for a minute, I left Celeste standing in her crib while I ran across the hall to the Diaper Champ. When I got back, instead of picking her up, I stood at the end of the crib and encouraged her to walk over to me by herself. It took a little work shifting her hand and foot, but I got her to figure out the hold-on-to-the-rail-and-side-step move and she was soon in the corner of the crib next to me. So, meanie that I am, I walk to the other end of the crib and stayed just out of her reach, encouraging her to move about two-thirds the length of the crib toward me.

This was her first instance of cruising.

[ASIDE: Earlier today (and I witnessed it when Evelin got home this evening), Celeste started spinning on her butt — yet another breakdancing move — to keep her mum in her sights. She's done this a little bit in the tub, but today, Evelin walked around a sitting Celeste and she used her feet to push herself 360°.]

Later in the day, when I was drawing her bath, she cruised along the side of the tub to try and get a toy, and, after her bath while waiting for Evelin to get home, she made two or three sideways steps while holding on to the downstairs changing table to get at a toy.

Evelin sums it up as "She's experimenting with movement," and I think we are going to be in trouble soon ...

Phoning It In

Last night I ran into another one of those what-is-it-with-this-house moments. Rewinding a bit in the day, during lunch I ran out to Staples to return the new mouse I'd bought for Evelin's laptop; the old mouse that had seemed to have given up the ghost decided it wasn't ready for the scrap heap when it saw the new model arrive &mash; it started working perfectly mooting any plans to replace it. (Both the old and new are/were corded optical mouses; I just don't feel the love for cordless mouses, no matter how much certain people may talk them up.)

While making the return, the woman at the service desk asked if I'd be buying anything else today. I said no, but while she was handing the transaction, I cast my eyes over the clearance table. There were a couple of multi-extension cordless phones on sale, so after I got my card credited for the mouse I started poking around.

We have two old cordless phones, each of which has its own basestation. One is a 900 MHz unit; the other is 2.4 GHz. I haven't noticed any troubles yet, but our wireless network is 8011.b/g, which also uses 2.4 GHz, and since we should be switching entirely from Verizon to Vonage soon (we're just waiting for the old number migration to be finalized) I thought it might cause some issue to have a 2.4 GHz phone carrying VoIP traffic in the same loop as the 2.4 GHz network carrying Internet traffic. Plus, the 5.8 GHz phones (AT&T 3658Bs) were better than half price and looked neat, and would give us a third handset.

The upshot of all this is that Evelin will probably be Freecycling the 900 MHz phone + answering machine and the 2.4 GHz phone soon.

But that is just the lead up to the what-is-it-with-this-house issue.

When I put the new basestation in place (on the wall in the kitchen) it hung too high; the bottom of the cabinets made it impossible to put a handset in the basestation cradle. Removing the faceplace, it looks like it will be easy to just cut a channel down the wall to shift where the wire comes out of the wall and then I can spackle and rehang things. (Also I also discovered at this point that the Harvest Gold paint was applied over a fairly cutesy country wallpaper — little red houses and fruits.)

Of course it isn't that easy: The first problem was the plaster crumbling, including a nice chunk that popped out when I tried to put in a plastic screw anchor. Nothing too drastic happened, however; I just had to use more spackle that originally planned for.

The interesting thing was that the phone line didn't terminate directly into the jack; instead, there was a four-wire termination plate just hanging inside the wall. Only red and green were attached, so I stripped the black and yellow wires and attached them. Also, instead of the jack leads being crimped under the screws, they terminated in these neat little red, green, yellow, and black clips that snapped on top of the screws on the line plate. I snapped them down and pushed everything back into the wall and went about setting up the basestation.

The first indication that something was off was that the "in use" light kept flashing. We thought maybe it was because everything was charging for the first time, but it did seem a bit odd that a few hours later a partially charged handset couldn't get a dialtone.

This morning any hope that it was just a charging thing went out the window. Evelin called to say that the new phones weren't working; I later tried to call to see if I would get the answering machine ... again nada.

So, as soon as I got home, I tried a standard phone (the one normally connected to the VoIP line) to test the jack. No luck, it was back into the wall for me. Thankfully, it turned out to be a simple fix: One of those neat clips had popped off, probably dislodged by a bit of plaster falling behind the wall. After snapping that back on and putting everything back together, the "in use" light stopped flashing and the phones could ring.

At some point, I should probably replace the jack and how the line is terminated — perhaps whenever we redo the kitchen or when I go back to pain over the spackle and bit of wallpaper — but for now it's working.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Beach Baby

On Saturday, Celeste got her first taste of salt air. We took a daytrip up to Ocean City, NJ, to visit friends and to see what Celeste thinks of sand and salt water. She didn't sleep much on the drive there, so her walk along the boardwalk was an abbreviated one, but she did take a good nap that was followed by a short walk into the surf. She seemed a bit unsure what to make of it all, and the cold Atlantic waters did elicit a few tears, but she did like walking on the wet, packed sand near the water's edge.

As she was walking back up to the boardwalk, Celeste drew a few comments from some onlookers, one of whom was surprised we were heading in so soon after arriving; I replied that Celeste had always been more partial to the mountains than the shore.

On the drive home, Celeste napped for a solid 90 minutes through most of New Jersey, but once we got home she was wired. After about three false starts we finally got her to bed for good around 10:00 p.m. ... and she slept through to just before 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. Her first ever sleep though the night. (It didn't last: Sunday night–Monday morning, she woke for a feed around 2:30 a.m.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bargin Bob's Stroller City

So Celeste still has her old Baby Trend Snap 'n Go in the basement, her Combi Savvy Soho umbrella stroller, and as of Wednesday night, she has a pre-owned Baby Jogger Performance Series jogstroller. Tired of slamming the Soho through the ruts and potholes in our streets and sidewalks, Evelin had been cruising Freecycle and craigslist for a few weeks looking for a jogging stroller. While in Atlanta, we called a consignment shop N--- knew of and tried to buy another off one of her friends — all to no avail. When we got home, however, craigslist had just what Evelin had been looking for.

She made the call and set up the deal, and I made the trip to Chevy Chase View/Bethesda after work to pick up the stroller. It's a serious machine, able to take the worst our city streets and sidewalks can offer, but it also isn’t as quick and easy to fold up for storage. C'est la vie.

Yesterday, I took the new stroller (and Celeste) for a long walk over to the Riverdale Park Farmers Market. With the remanents of Tropical Storm Cindy threatening, there were fewer stalls than usual (and a few deals: two bags of baby chard, a bunch of chives and some beets for $5; I took the chard, but passed on the beets and chives, leaving the two running the booth eyeing the clouds and looking for someone who liked beets to buy the last of their produce so they could get out of there).

On the walk home, it started spitting a little bit — nothing too bad, but Celeste didn't seem to really like it. The sun shade kept her from getting wet (and there really wasn't much rain at that point), but she was pulling her feet up like she wanted to get away from whatever water was reaching her.

On Tuesday afternoon, we had a nice thunderstorm and she enjoyed standing on the porch and holding her hands out into the rain, but I guess being strapped into a chair and having rain being pushed on to her wasn't as much fun.

Considering how Evelin's been working craigslist and Freecycle lately, I was certian she'd end up a Ferengi in this "Which Star Trek Alien Are You?" quiz. It turns out she's equal parts Klingon (45%) and Vulcan (45%) — there must have been something in her answers that tipped it to Klingon, that's what the final result said despite the tied score. Cardassian, Jem'Hadar, Bajoran, and Ferengi were tied at 40%, followed by 35% Romulan and 30% Borg.

I came up with a three-way tie Romulan (60%), Bajoran (60%), and Vulcan (60%), with the tip going to Romulan. I was only 15% Ferengi and 20% Borg. With the other races being in the 30% or 40% range.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Little Too Late

This — BBC Radio 3 Beethoven Experience — is always the sort of thing I find out about too late. The BBC Philharmonic recorded all nine of Beethoven's symphonies and Radio 3 aired them throughout June and offered free downloads for a week after airing.

If you hurry, the download of the 9th Symphony is still available through midnight (UTC±0:00) tonight.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We Have Language

Well, she's hardly mastered spoken English, but Celeste is making a few sounds that are connected with things/people that seem to have a decent rate of correlation. For the past two weeks or so, she's been pretty good with dadadadada sounds, but they seemed to lack context. Over the 4th of July weekend however, there was a clear break between dæ di/dæ dɑ (me) and dɑɑ (M---, my brother's black lab).

The dæ dɪ/dæ dɑ was spoken with more deliberation, while the dɑɑ was held a bit longer. There also was at least one that seemed to correlate with a stuffed duck she got from her great aunt and uncle. And this afternoon she pointed to a bird and said something that sounded like .

There're a lot of other babbling and random sounds, but I really think we're starting to get some context in there, too, which is really exciting and a bit scary. It's going to be hard to let her cry a little bit when she's yelling "Daddy!"

So, Where the Hell Have You Been?

It's been a while since my last entry, so here's the short-form version of things; I may go back in time to add some entries to June, but in case I don't:

My folks came into town on the 24th for a few days. My dad was put to work right away: We replaced some spongy boards on the front porch; fixed/replaced some of the trim on the porch; installed Evelin's long-wished-for door between the kitchen and the basement stairs (she got a folding door instead of the full door she wanted, but that's the best solution considering the tight layout of the space); replaced the rusty chains on the porch swing; and took care of some other small chores that needed doing. We also played with the dishwasher some to little good effect. There was a little work and a lot of consultation on the Psup3;, and, while I was back at work, he power-washed and painted the deck and replaced a leaky gasket in an outside faucet (I thought I'd have to replace the whole thing), as well as a few other things that I'm blanking on now.

With my folks here, Evelin and I took the opportunity to head out Sunday night for our first stretch of time together away from Celeste. We had a quick dinner at Lebanese Taverna Café in Silver Spring followed by a screening of Revenge of the Sith.

Monday night was the searing of the flesh. I was grilling mushrooms for dinner and, distracted by talking with my dad, I picked up the grill wok with the oven-mitted hand, but I grabbed the butter warmer I was using to heat the marinade/sauce barehanded. The food went flying and I ran in to run it under cold water; a few mushrooms hit my dad's leg. He salvaged things best he could, and I spent the evening pouting with my hand in a bowl of cold water. It really hurt and I felt pretty dumb.

Fortunately, by the next evening, the pain and swelling were down. I have some cooked parts of my palm and fingers, but some of it is already starting to flake away.

The poison ivy was in remission by the burning. I'd had three or four straight nights of oatmeal baths — and it's worth buying the pre-powdered stuff; I tried whizzing regular oatmeal in the food processor and although it looked pretty powdery, in the bath the powder swelled into grits ... it got pretty nasty trying to clean the tub afterwards — and I switched from Super Ivy-Dry to Aveeno 1% hydrocortisone. I also dosed myself overnight with Benadryl. The Super Ivy-Dry worked well, but it was burning me. The bits that still look bad (albeit sans the itch) are where I overdid various products and basically burned the skin.

What else ...

On Thursday, Evelin, Celeste and I made the drive down to Atlanta to spend the weekend with my brother, sister-in-law, the twins, their dog, and my parents.

The folks had left our place on Tuesday and spend some time with friends/relatives while making their way down to Atlanta; without timing it out we happened to be approaching the GA–SC state line at about the same time from slightly different directions, so we met up at the Georgia welcome center and caravanned the rest of the way to Atlanta.

It was a nice trip. A--- and N--- have a new house, so we got to see what was what with that, and Celeste definitely picked up a few tricks from her 21-month-old cousins. While visiting us, my mother got Celeste working on holding fingers and walking, but seeing the twins running about (and M--- walking away from her) inspired Celeste to really kick the handheld walking into gear. Her balance is no where near where it needs to be for unassisted walking, but she is determined and enjoys moving around. We've been saying for a while that it looked like she would skip crawling; it looks like that'll be the case.

While on the trip Celeste also cut her fifth tooth (one of the upper incisors) and she got her toe pecked by a hen at the Yellow River Game Ranch. Basically it's a big petting zoo with some other animals that aren't for petting (and that seemed to be in less than ideal enclosures) — a few black bears, foxes, bobcats, a puma, coyotes, bison, a porcupine, etc. Celeste really liked most of the animals, but one aggressive hen walked up to the stroller and mistook her toe for a kernel of corn or something. I saw it about to happen and pulled back the stroller, but not quite in time. The skin wasn't broken, but Celeste was frightened and started crying, so we carried her for a bit and she got back into things pretty quickly.

We also took time to run into MidCity to have a nice brunch with M--- and B---. After brunch, B--- gave us a tour of some of the New Urbanist developments going up in Atlanta; it's really cool to see some smart growth developments going up inside a city — we really need some more of that around D.C.

The entire trip left Celeste a bit out of whack — strange place, strange people, strange food, very long car rides — but she pulled through and did very well.