Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Feeling Much Better. Please Stop Wiping My Nose.

If there was one more patterned object in that photo you would need protective eyewear.

First time playing after being down for the count with a cold.

Kid; Have You Rehabilitated Yourself?

I got so wrapped up in the ER visit that I completely neglected to say anything about our Thanksgiving and Post Thanksgiving socializing. I’m happy to say 2007 was Baby’s First Alice’s Restaurant thanks to the traditional airing of said song by WDVE. Donovan seemed nonplussed but he doesn’t know enough about Vietnam to really get the nuances.

I listened to Alice’s Restaurant, fittingly, while making the Fin de Siecle stuffing. That was the only thing I had to do this year as the in-laws had invited us up for dinner. Thanksgiving dinner there was a big deal as it was the first time that Donovan would meet Ceil. I’m not sure if “Ceil” is the proper spelling but it’s the short version of Cecelia. Ceil is a childhood friend of my mother-in-law so she has been a proxy Shanley for well over 70 years. If she likes you she LOVES you and, while the feeling is mutual, being pelted with compliments is a lot like being nibbled to death by ducks (to paraphrase Kenneth Anger describing how it feels to be sued by Scientologists…). ANYhow, Ceil loves babies and since we apparently have birthed a prime specimen, a list of the Ceil quotes of the evening would run something like this. Please apply a strong Pittsburghese accent:

“Oh my God, he’s gorgeous
“I can’t get over how gorgeous he is!”
“Martha, he’s beautiful!”
“I can’t get over how beautiful he is”
“He’s magnificent!”
“Oh my God, I can’t get over how beautiful he is!”

Repeat with slight variations and some pauses for turkey and pie. Continue for roughly 4 hours. And while I got a little weary with my “thank yous,” Donovan loved her and did his smiling, reaching, “for an adult you are fascinating!” routine. Which made me very happy. Plus, as Arlo would say, our Thanksgiving Dinner Could’nt Be Beat.

I put that envelope under that garbage…

Next on the agenda was a trip to Crafton for a post Thanksgiving party at the home of my sister-in-law’s cousin’s house. We had been there for a summer event a year or two ago and we knew to expect great food, wonderful atmosphere and great people. I was geeked to show off the boy but I realize now that he was starting to come down with whatever it is that he has. We drove out there when Mike was done with work and, when we got there, I realized I’d forgotten the diaper bag. The diaper bag that contained every baby lifeline you could think of: Enfamil, diapers, toys, Mama’s antacid. Mike dropped us off and went back to get the stuff and Donovan and I went in to meet and be greeted. He held up ok for the first few folks but then he had a quick meltdown. He hovered between happy and fussy the rest of the night, tho Dad coming with the food definitely helped. It ended up being a nice time and I’m awaiting incriminating photos of my son smoking a cigar. That’s right: “Donovan the Mogul.”

The next day Donny was officially sick but, as Amanda and Allison were in town, we all had to step up to the plate and make a visit. This time was particularly important as we only get to see them once a year and, who knows? By next year Donovan may not be cute. Strike while the iron is adorable, I always say. For a quick visit it was very nice with updates and laughing and damn good chocolates. Donny fussed a bit when his Aunt Shirley picked him up but, for a sick baby, he was otherwise on excellent behavior.

And speaking of excellent behavior: last night, Mike and I were prepared to keep him from napping before bed. We did’nt need to break out the espresso—the poor kid fell dead asleep at 9pm and stayed that way the whole night. WHEW.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Workin' the Night Shift

So, am I one of those mothers that lugs her kid to the emergency room everytime his poop changes color? I sort of felt like that today, tho I must say 1) I was right and 2) I was able to stay very present "in the moment" the whole time we were at the hospital--more on that later. Lets start with the set-up:

Donny has had a cough for about 2 weeks now. In that time, we've called the doctor and he also had his "well baby" exam and shots, so he was looked at as well. The verdict was he probably has some normal baby reflux that will go away but, until then, he's going to cough. That's all fine and good but it wasn't going away and this morning he woke himself up coughing. When I went to pick him up I could feel him breathing heavy and heard the congestion. Then, after he ate breakfast, he coughed so hard he threw up. Three times. So we called the practitioner on duty for our doctor's office. Mike spoke to them first but had to leave for work so I took over the phone. I kind of got the feeling the guy asked us to come in to appease me but, whatever. I bundled up the boy and we caught the 54C to West Penn.

Folks, I could make this a very long post but, as the child of octogenarians, I know that long medical stories are only of interest to the person telling them and octogenarians. That being said, let me skip to my other point about being in the moment. If you remember, last month (I think) we took Donny into the emergency room for yet another cough. I thought we'd get a $200 jar of Vapo-Rub but, instead, I watched them give my 6 month old a spinal tap. What got me later was when I realized I didn't even ask any of the people involved for their credentials--or for another opinion or anything. Sometimes, when Donovan has night terrors, I wonder if that is what he's dreaming of since he's an otherwise lucky boy and probably doesn't have a large nightmare repertoire. ANYhow, I made sure to ask questions and press some points. The end result is that I navigated the shoals between 4 different doctors and turned down an offer to keep him overnight, nixed giving him a full dose of steroids when the first dose made him projectile vomit, asked for applejuice as a mixer for the illfated steroids, and after the steroid vomit launch, I announced that it had been 6 lovely hours in one room but it was time to go. Please note I mean no disrespect to the doctors involved--I understand Donovan's condition bordered on leave-it-alone and let's-try-this. I also understand that everyone involved wanted the best for the kid. I'm just glad I didn't collapse into mute acquiesce like last time.

The upshot of all of this is that I'm typing away in the office with my ears pricked for whimpering in the next room. The poor kid is having a rough time going to sleep and I've had to run in and roll him on his side/rub his back/replace his pacifier a good number of times already. This is one of the few instances in life where I don't feel good about being "right." I mean about him being sick enough for a doctor to look at. And as fussy as he's being, I don't think the hospital was the right option.

O Sweet Jesus, please don't let me have jinxed it...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fin de Siecle Stuffing

3 loaves of Jiffy Brand cornbread (day old preferable)
2 sweet onions, chopped
1 1/2 pounds of bulk sage sausage, cooked
1 1/2 cups of craisins, plumped in chicken stock
at least one box of chicken stock

* Crumble cornbread and let dry out a bit. You can do this on a tray in a warm oven if you're pressed for time
* When cornbread is crusty, add chopped onions, cooked sausage and plumped craisins. Mix together with liberal shakes of paprika.
* Put in buttered casserole(s) and moisten liberally with chicken stock
* Dust heavily with more paprika, if you have any left from the mixing part.
* Cover and put in oven at 250 for a couple of hours. Seriously. As long as the lid is on, it can pretty much be in there at a very low temp indefinitely.

I have just given you the recipe to happiness: Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Amended Advice: Please See Below

In being asked for my recommendations on baby products I forgot one important one:
Single Serve Packages of Enfamil. Believe it or not, once the breastfeeding thing fell completely thru, this product allowed me and the boy to leave home and bus around town without fear of a shrieking baby meltdown. They also make little premixed bottles, which is what they give you in the hospital. Cute but boy, do they stink! Literally: P-U.

Oh--and as far as Walgreens goes; there is one that is equidistant between daycare and Mike's store. For the past month, everytime I go in there they give me a $4.50 off coupon for Enfamil. Yes, thank you!...

The Voice of (Albeit Limited) Experience

At the fancy dinner-out we had the other night, I promised Beth and Todd that I would make a list of baby gear that I had found to be useful. Having made that promise, I went on, in typical Gemini fashion, to vacillate wildly between being too busy to think and unable to rise above The Torpor to think. Allow me to try and make amends:

Things What Worked

In no particular order:

Big Blankets for Swaddling
•You know those packs of flannel receiving blankets? They are not created equal. We got spoiled with the generous size of the Amy Coe flannel blankets we got from our Target registry. I was too lazy/busy to measure them but no other brands we bought were ever big enough—and in the early days we went thru about 3 or so every 24 hours.
*Sootheez (otherwise known as Those Green Gummy Pacifiers)
*Diaper Champ
Minimum of hassle and you can use your old grocery bags.
Friends from Germany
• Our friends Caroline and Karsten sent us a bunch of swag that had gotten them thru the babyhoods of their two lovely daughters. Such is the quality of German engineering that several of the items made it into our everyday favorites list. Part of the appeal with the German clothes was that they were’nt so freakin’ gendered (tho I did send a sports themed onesie to Amy and Grant for Stella that made people think lovely young Stella was a boy)
o Unpainted wooden ring with three wooden clackers. I like to think of it as Baby’s First Abacus. One of the failsafe “Please Stop Shrieking” toys.
o Three melamine spoons. I prefer them to the rubber tipped spoons as they don’t skid across the bottom of the bowl when I’m trying to scrape up the last of the prune purée.
o Galleseife Soap! This bar soap is for laundry and it has gotten out all sort of, as Caroline called them in her accompanying note, “secretions.” I have the original bar she sent me and its still going strong.
o Beth liked the box that Caroline and Karsten gave us. Caroline explained that it’s the sort of box that “German schoolchildren use to take their bread and cheese to school.” The one we have can hold 6 small Babycubes (see below) and a plastic spoon (see above), which makes for good traveling. Extra points are given for the adorable animal picture on the lid of the box that is neither gender specific nor licensed. I swear, I’ve never even seen Dora but I’m already sick of her…
•I’m selective in my Ebaying for Baby but I did score the one thing I really wanted for the nursery: a John Lennon Crib Mobile. A strict swaddling/mobile regime was what got us all thru those early days of the baby learning how to sleep.
Baby Cubes
•That is the brand name for the little plastic cubes in which you are to put and refrigerate/freeze your homemade babyfood. I got two sizes (ordered thru Amazon) and we are still using the smaller of the two. You could use the icecube tray approach and save some $, but the cube with their connected, snap-close lids travel very well. This is good when you need to pack up the bag for daycare. I keep expecting the lids to tear off but they have proven to be nice and sturdy.
Colours are Brighter
•This is a CD of children’s songs that Amy and Grant sent us. Its very smart and very sweet—standouts include Snow Patrol covering a Pete Shelley Song, a techno song about putting things away when you’re done with them, and Belle and Sebastian singing about what happens when the monkeys escape from the zoo.
Enfamil with Iron
•I won’t preach. I’m just sayin: of the formulas we tried once we had to start supplementing, this is the one that worked.

That which did not work

Cradle Cap Cures
•I don’t know the brand but it cost about $7.00 and left my poor baby’s head all greasy and sticky. The tough as nails visiting nurse who came to check up on Donny told us to use Selesin Blue and that did the trick. We still have about 7/8’s of a bottle left if you need it…
•Donny “Dainty Digestive Pants” could’nt deal with it. Plus, it smelled.
Halo Sleepsack Swaddlers
•I think that’s the brandname—it’s the zip up sleepsacks with the detachable Velcro “wings” to wrap around. Donovan always struggled out of them and, besides, did you ever try to do a load of wash with a 6 inch by 6 inch square of Velcro floating around in it? I could never figure out a way to wash the damn things that did’nt put the rest of the wash at risk—the Velcro was maniacally magnetic even through a mesh bag. Just buy some big ol’ flannel blankets and be done with it.
Del Monte Baby Food
•I hate to dis the products of a local company but the hospital gave us some jars for Donovan when he was in for the croup and the carrots were like water. Complete lack of texture, at least for the first stages set.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Just In:

We got a memo at Daycare that one of the young child teachers is leaving so all the teachers are getting shuffled around--and Miss Jackie is moving to the young toddlers room! THIS CAN'T HAPPEN! Donovan is her favorite! She said so! What's he supposed to do, just expect non-preferential treatment? That is so NOT FAIR...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Baby Baby All The Time...

This weekend was social in a new way for me: a vast majority of the socializing was babycentric or at least directly baby relational.

The unofficial socializing happened on Friday after I picked the boy up from daycare. I had taken the day off with a seriously sore throat. Maybe it was the complete lack of human contact I’d had during the day, but I approached a woman who looked familiar to see if she did, in fact, attend some of the childcare classes at Allegheny General (yes, I went to West Penn but the two hospitals have very similar logos and registration sites…). I remembered her as the only other person not in their 20s in the room and, on days when it was just me and the boy and I could feel my nerves fraying, I often wondered about her as she came on her own to the classes. Turns out it was her and, yes, she is a single mother at age 42. Her daughter is cute like the bug with big dark eyes and a great not quite toothless smile. When it got to the point where we were about to exchange contact info, I gave her my email and it turns out she’s at CMU as well! Ah, Pittsburgh; the world’s biggest small town…

Saturday night, Mike and I met, as I like to refer to them despite the tongue twist, my sisters in law (tho, since they can’t technically get married, is the old “outlaw” joke applicable?) at Quiet Storm for dinner. They were there with our old pal, Whiskey Daisy, and two of their friends, Beth and Todd, who might be moving to Pittsburgh. Beth and Todd brought their daughter, Beatrix, who is also cute like the bug, also with the big, dark eyes. She is a petite girl, I did’nt catch how old tho my slightly educated guess would be 3-4 months. Donovan was quite taken with her and tried to make conversation in the come hither quiet voice he uses to entice the cats. The dinner was great, both food and company. Beth was very complimentary about our makeshift baby dop kit and asked for some advice on baby products. I may not know much about money management but swag; I can say a thing or two about swag. I’ll make it my next entry.

And I’ll be good an not bitch about The Malfunctioning Non Returnable Breast Pump…

Thursday, November 8, 2007

About that Gifthorse...

I just spoke with a friend who was expounding on the fine qualities of my son, for which I was very grateful. When you are 40 and pregnant and have a lot of questionable memories of adolescence, you can worry about a lot of things: will the kid be healthy? Will s/he be happy? Will s/he be able to fend for her/himself in a cruel world? What have I learned from being the butt of jokes, the last one picked for kickball, from having to invent a world of my own to live in because I was’nt welcome in any of the ones that were already there? Can I teach my kid how to make the most—and more—of the hand you’re dealt?

What I never expected was that I would have a chronically happy, beautiful blue eyed baby boy who, at 7 months, is the most popular kid in town.

I have no advice for you, my son. You’re on your own.