super bean


So, what happened to the last two months?

It may have seemed as though we abandoned this place, but really, we haven’t–it’s just that, as many of you know, merging “regular life” with “baby life” is…a process.

Okay, so that process only took a few weeks. I’m also bad at remembering to write. But we’re back and better than ever!

Basically, Sophie is great. We have no complaints (not that we’d share them with you if we did, but still). She eats well, sleeps well, and, all things considered, would rather not cry. She smiles all the time — no matter what those stupid books say about babies not smiling until they’re three months old or whatever — and is starting to learn how to use her hands to whack the crap out of whatever she can reach with them. She’s also started trying to sit up, roll over, and scoot wherever her pudgy little feet will take her. In short, my daughter is a Super Genius Baby. Rather than keeping a thick stack of pictures in my wallet to torment strangers with, Leah and I have compiled an enormous (and ever-growing) collection of them here. And yes, that link will update as we add photos. Click on it any time you like. Odds are, new ones will have been added since your last visit. We’re sort of dopey and obsessed.

Now that Leah’s back to school, I’m Mr. Full-Time Stay at Home Mom, which works a lot more smoothly than I’d feared. She’s an amazingly easy baby. We get up, she eats, she plays, she squeals and coos, she sleeps. It sort of rules.

So basically, from here on out, we’re going to be just kind of talking about what it’s like being Sophie’s parents and sharing information about various products we’ve tried — good and bad. Hope that’s cool with all of you. And thanks for sticking around.


I had big plans for this post. I swear I did.

I was driving home from the hospital tonight, thinking about how I feel and how I’d describe it for you all, and (hopefully) Sophie, eventually. There’s a mad swirl of emotions thundering around in here, I tell you.

I’m just too frigging tired to get any of them out coherently.

I’ll tell you this: The last two days have been the most emotional and exhausting of my life. Yet I’m elated. Go figure.

It was a rough delivery. Well, I hate to say that, because it makes it sound like the whole thing was a long ordeal, and for awhile, things went along as smoothly as labor & delivery ever does. I mean, Leah showed up dilated to 8 cm — they sort of thought Sophie was going to pop out at any minute. The kid, of course, had other plans.

Anyway, yeah, it was pretty bumpy there toward the end. Right now, I certainly don’t feel the need for us to have any more kids. Watching Leah go through all that — not to mention all the poking, prodding, and assorted insult-to-injury that came after — is something I’m going to need a lot of time and distance before I risk happening again.

But she’s here, and healthy. And Leah’s doing great. They come home tomorrow. I can’t wait.

Pictures here if you wanna see ‘em. (I guess you must, otherwise you wouldn’t be here!)

a chance of showers

The baby shower was Sunday, so thanks to all of you who were able to make it, or who helped pile our tousled heads with this enormous stack of extravagant gifts. It was, in a word, overwhelming. I suck at getting gifts in the first place, and I’m also pretty bad at mingling, so it was actually sort of a stressful day, weird and ungrateful as that sounds.

All this stuff is wonderful. I just feel guilty for getting it. Then again, you guys didn’t give it to me, you gave it to Sophie, so I guess that’s totally unnecessary.

A real highlight of the weekend was my mom flying Leah’s mom out for the shower. I don’t know how I did it, but I kept it a secret from everyone but Felina and Rahul for two weeks. Go me. Leah was, as they say in Texas, gomper-jawed. It was great having her here, not only for the shower, but just to see Leah pregnant and touch her round belly.

A lot of us painted it after the shower — my mom bought Leah a belly-painting kit:

Yes, I’m the one who wrote “I DID THIS.”

We even got to see Dr. and Mr. Gupta for a few minutes — they were in Mendocino for a wedding and came over on their way to the airport. Things were getting a little woolly by that point (last-minute preparations for the shower and all that good stuff), but it was great nonetheless.

The shower itself was hosted by Mrs. Langy at Posh Langy Manor, in their freshly landscaped backyard wonderland. I think more than 30 people showed up. Oman and Sara-no-H even flew up from SoCal!

Like I said…overwhelming.

Anyway, thanks, everybody. We’re almost as dazed by all your good vibes as we are by Sophie’s impending arrival. Pictures of the shower are here if you want to see ‘em. I poached some from Denise…

Non-party life is being taken up increasingly by organization and *gulp* classes. We took the breastfeeding class a couple of weekends ago, which was much more informative than I thought it’d be. I didn’t understand why the nurses thought I should be there (or why they thought it was necessary to threaten me with gun violence), but I’m glad I went. Tonight is pre-natal care, I think, and then we’ve got another one Friday night and all day Saturday. I’m sure I’ll forget almost everything as soon as the classes end, but I guess we should take advantage of our health insurance while it still offers anything at all in the way of personal attention.

Less than one month now until we meet our Screaming Little Person face-to-face. Whoa.

a bag of flour

I didn’t mean to take a month off from writing here. It just sort of happened.

First, I finally graduated from college, and upon doing so discovered that my degree is essentially worthless in the job market. So I moped around for a couple of weeks before deciding to try and make a full-time proposition out of the graphic design consulting firm I own with Rahul. Ever since then, I’ve been wandering around wide-eyed, freaking out about how foolish I am to even think about working for myself with a baby on the way.

At least when Sophie is old enough to bug me about wanting me to buy stuff for her, I can just sit her down in front of this entry and let her read about why her dad doesn’t have a pot to piss in.

Actually, allegedly, by then I’ll be a Real Live History Teacher. The credential program starts in September. I should have everything, including my master’s, a little over a year from then. Hopefully we can get out of California before Sophie is old enough to remember how mild the winters are here.

Also eating into my writing time has been the fact that we are now living with The Boy. The Boy is six. The Boy is smart. The Boy has bottomless reserves of energy. You must always be paying attention to The Boy. So, quite often, I’m pooped. Explaining to a six-year-old what it means to work out of the home is something I encourage everyone to try doing. It’s a lot of fun no matter how many times you do it — regardless of the tactic you use to attempt getting your message across, the conversation always ends with him pleading with you to install something called Chicken Attack on your computer.

It’s good training for our own children. I like having him around; also, the situation being what it is, I’m confident that I won’t ever get any kind of credit for whatever positive influence I manage to dribble out on his little psyche. Just as I won’t from my own kids — at least not until I’m too old to remember them giving it to me.

So our little bean continues to get bigger every day. I might be remembering this wrong — I always do — but I think this week she’s a bag of flour:

Leah and The Boy

I don’t understand it. I mean, I’m feeling the first dim stirrings of what all this means, but I can’t take it all in. I don’t think anybody in this position can. I put my hand on Leah’s stomach at night and feel Sophie bouncing around, and I look at the ultrasounds, and we do stuff like going on our hostpital tour, but it’s still sort of pretend. I think, after October 20 or so, I may not write here (or anywhere) for awhile. My brain may shut down.

So I’m trying to take care of everything I can while it’s still functioning. Like restoring my old cradle:

My grandfather built it and gave it to my mother when I was born. I used to sleep in it:

In a stroke of total awesomeness, my mom held onto it, and now it’s here. It’s as old as I am, though, and looked just as dirty, scuffed and beat up as I do:

My mom suggested steel wool and linseed oil. Having never used linseed oil, I imagined this project would be something that would take me weeks or even months. It would be super manly. I might have to build a shop in the garage to do it. I could be like Joel.

But no. It was incredibly easy. This stuff is supposed to be really combustible as it dries, so I didn’t do the whole cradle all at once, but the entire project took me maybe an hour. Linseed oil, as it turns out, is magic.

These pictures don’t look all that dramatic, now that I see them next to the originals, but trust me when I say that there’s a big difference between the way the cradle looked when it got here and the way it looks now. If you’ve got anything that needs restoring — old furniture, antique knicknacks, a car — linseed oil will do you right.

Now I just need to find a mattress that will fit in this thing…

he’s saying “mom, nice rack”

Our friends Joel and Laura have an adorable little girl. Really, she is. I’m not just saying that because she’s little and chubby. But that isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is that Joel and Laura decided to teach baby Abigail sign language.

We found out about this last year, when they were here visiting Joel’s folks for Christmas, and I was…what’s the word I’m looking for here? Impressed? Surprised? Taken aback? Well, whatever, what I’m trying to say is that I’d never heard of teaching a baby sign language before. When we found out Leah was pregnant, I started looking into doing the same thing with our little bean.

Turns out there’s a whole bunch of people doing this, for the very simple reason that a child can communicate long before he can speak, and by giving him the tools to tell you what he wants to say, you help to cut down on a whole lot of frustration (both the child’s and your own).

I don’t know sign language–well, aside from the kind you use behind the wheel of a car–but I’m fascinated by this idea. I think it’s terrific. The only thing left to do is select a good, solid teaching program. This one looks good:

Any parents out there who have gone the sign-language route with their children? Programs you’ve looked into? Stuff you’ve heard?

tunes for tots

p>For the past few years, we’ve been building a collection of cool music for kids. Usually, we’d buy the CD in question mostly because an artist we like had something to do with it–but we also know that most children’s music is maddeningly terrible, so the more of a head start we give ourselves on staving off the inevitable pile of crap, the better.

Here are a few of our favorites so far. Most of them are worth owning whether or not you have kids (which, by the way, is my primary criteria for a good album of children’s music):

Jason Falkner – Bedtime with the Beatles

Falkner, a member of late-and-lamented bands such as Jellyfish, The Grays, and The Three O’Clock, is a giant on the modern power-pop scene, which means most people have never heard of him or anything he’s been a part of. That’s a shame, especially with regards to this lovely album. It’s exactly what the title makes it sound like–instrumental versions of Beatles classics, slowed down to lullaby speed. I love this record, and our little bean will be hearing a lot of it. For added excitement, you can choose between the pink or blue cover!

Various Artists – For the Kids

VH1 has always been MTV’s dorky kid sister, and in recent years its programming slate has grown increasingly lame; their Save the Music campaign, however, is pretty darn cool. This was released in conjunction with the program in 2002, and it’s great. We got it for Guster’s version of the Sesame Street classic “Got To Be Clean,” but there’s so much more: Cake doing “Mahna, Mahna”; Barenaked Ladies doing “La La La Lemon”; so on and so forth. The originals are solid, too, especially Glen Phillips’ “Have A Little Fun With Me.” And it’s hard to find fault with a children’s album that includes a Tom Waits tune.

Various Artists – For the Kids, Too!

Not quite as cool as the first installment, but that’s no big deal (and mainly, as far as I’m concerned, because of Jason Mraz’s lame version of “The Rainbow Connection”). Good stuff from David Mead, Ron Sexsmith, and Matthew Sweet–and Matt Nathanson’s cover of Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee” steals the show.

They Might Be Giants – Here Come the ABCs

Our friend Rahul is a big fan of TMBG’s first kids’ album, No!, which is a little too weird for either of us. Here Come the ABCs is weird too, but in a more educational way–songs like “Who Put the Alphabet in Alphabetical Order?” instead of “I Am Not Your Broom.” I can see this CD driving me crazy at some point, but it’s hard not to like their goofy enthusiasm. The CD even includes “Clap Your Hands,” the best song from No!. Also, it beats the pants off The Wiggles. There is a Here Come the ABCs DVD, too; we don’t have it, but we’ve given it to enough children-of-friends that we hope to eventually get some trustworthy feedback on its merits.

Various Artists – In Harmony

I love this album. It was released in 1980, so my kids will probably think it’s lame, but they’ll be buckled into carseats and won’t be able to reach the controls on the stereo. We’ll skip past some of the more painfully dated songs–George Benson’s “A Friend for All Seasons,” for instance–and zero in on classic tunes like James Taylor’s “Jelly Man Kelly” and the Ernie & Cookie Monster duet, “Share.”

And speaking of Sesame Street…

Various Artists – Songs from the Street: 35 Years of Music

Everyone from my generation should have this. If you’re like me and you look back fondly on the Sesame Street of the 1970s, you will join me in having no use for the more recent stuff on this box set–the Spin Doctors doing “Two Princes” on the show, for instance, or R.E.M.’s damn “Shiny Happy Monsters.” Not to mention everything involving Elmo. As far as I’m concerned, Telly is the most recent addition to the cast; everything else is a terrible nightmare that we will all wake up from someday. Anyway, Sesame Street albums have a bad habit of going out of print, so this box set is the only place you can find a lot of the older songs. I couldn’t believe how many of these I remembered.

That’s all for now. Do you have any recommendations?