Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blue Moon

We had a successful outing today. We really don't get out much, it's such a major undertaking to get out the door. Dress the baby, dress myself, pack a diaper bag--these things are hard to accomplish with a baby who doesn't want to be set down for longer than 2 minutes at a stretch. He also likes to cluster feed in the mornings, so I have .5-1.5 hours between feedings, and if its a pumping day, forget it. However, I need to get out of the house for my own sanity, and Jackson just noticed the TV. I set him down on a blanket Monday and came back to find him watching the Sopranos, right as someone was getting whacked. Horribly violent images to be filling his little impressionable mind. So we're going for his sanity as well.

Today, we set out to see "The Surrealist Masters" at the WhiteSpace Gallery in New Haven, on display through June 2nd. I wanted to leave no later than 2, but for reasons mentioned previously, it was 4 before I was ready to go. New Haven is over an hour away, and I considered postponing due to the lateness, but who am I kidding, another day will have the same delays. So we went.

Turns out we could've gone anytime, its a dealer's gallery, not a museum. We'd pretty much missed the advertised show since the Picasso's had already sold, and there were only a couple Chagall's and Miro's remaining. However, they have a fairly extensive permanent collection of Dali's. They came to own the collection (several copies of each piece) through a complicated route, but they've been authenticated, and are available at a very reasonable price point. Signed and numbered lithographs, 3 foot framed pieces, for under $5K. Forget 529 plans, what could be a better tool for investing Jackson's college mone? Bonus--they have lay away! Oh, but I digress. We had a lovely time at the gallery and a nice chat with the resident artist, Denise Parri. Jackson was kind enough to sleep through this, but I was pushing his limits of time without food.

Since we were already at the coast, we headed East to look for a nice place to feed him, maybe a deserted park or something. I exited the highway in Guillford, and saw a lovely park, but it was pretty active, so I kept driving. I followed the signed for the public access to the Sound. Finding public shore access is difficult, so don't ever pass up the opportunity. The road ended at a simple parking lot with a boat ramp, and a magnificent view of the sea. We pulled up, and I fed Jackson in the car looking out at the Thimble Islands, and the lighthouse at Faulkner's Island. Then we took a little walk around the parking lot, which was becoming more popular as the evening progressed. The sun setting to the right, and the blue moon rising over the island trees to the right. Unfortunately, I didn't get a visual document of this. I saw the camera on the way out, but didn't take it, assuming photos would not be welcome at the gallery. if you're thinking of moving to the shore, consider Guillford, it had a nice atmosphere, and apparently the whole town heads out for an evening walk around sunset.

Then we headed further East for a dinner of the greatest food available in the Northeast. I acknowledge the pleasures of boiled maple syrup, blueberries, and all three colors of clam chowder. Topping these is the lobster roll. Don't be fooled into ordering a lobster salad roll, it disappoints. The lobster roll is fresh lobster meat on a buttered hot dog bun-like roll. I recommend Lenny and Joe's on Route 1 in Westbrook. Poor Jackson freaked out on the way there. I thought it would be 5 minutes, so I didn't stop right away. When I got him out, he was covered in vomitus, either causing the tears, or caused by them I couldn't say. I ordered today from their drive in in Madison, but I should've driven the extra few miles and sat down instead. It's just a little bit better there.

On the way home, Jackson cried again. It's an hour drive, so I pulled over and comforted him to sleep before heading home. He slept for 30 minutes, then woke up wailing. I gave him 10 minutes,contemplating what hunger pangs mean to the young. So I found a deserted semilit parking lot to feed him. After a few minutes, 2 older men got out of a truck and start heading toward my car. So I'm in the backseat with the doors locked and my boob hanging out, dialing to have 911 at the ready. They asked what I was doing, couldn't hear and requested I roll down the window. Well that's impossible from the backseat with the engine off, so I had to keep shouting. Turns out they were the janitorial staff at the school, and the parking lot is closed after 9pm. After eating, Jackson soiled his diaper, but I didn't want to stand outside late at night to change him, so I gave him his pacifier and set out for home. He wailed the whole way there--heartbreaking. But he was fine. I'm still calling this a successful outing because we made it 5 hours in peace, and Jackson did have impetus for the tears all 3 times.

That's a picture of Jackson and the blue moon from our house.

ps. The shutter speed on my camera is very slooow, but cool camera trick with the moon, eh? If you pull up a larger image, tubes of light appear. It's like a lunar churro (maybe that's what attracted my Latino T-shirt salesman).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mom's meetings.

Tuesdays the hospital sponsors meetings for new mothers. I've never been to a support group, but I imagine they're like this. We start by going around, introducing ourselves and our babies, saying how long we've living as mothers, and telling one thing about ourselves. Once that is over, we're free to discuss the babies, and give out tips on how we got through it, or ask for advice.

It's fantastic! Everyone dishes on their babies rashes, which pediatricians to see (or not), what baby gear is worth it and where to get it, how almost no one really puts her baby to sleep alone and on their backs. We can weigh the chunks (Jackson weighed in at 12lb 6oz today. Even subtracting 4oz for the clothes on his back--size 3-6 months now--my 1 month old is a BEEFCAKE). The lactation consulting is available. And I get to see what my baby might look like and be able to accomplish at 4 or 10 months. New moms, go to these meetings at your local hospital. When I return to the real world, I'm going to have to ditch my important work meetings so that I can keep coming, even if I can't bring Jackson with me.

Scratch & Dent Sales

This is going to seem a bit cynical and insensitive, but I'm posting anyway, it's funny damnit! I was visiting my neighbor a few weeks ago. Her friend was visiting and wanted to get her newborn baby fix, maybe sniff up some of his milky essence when I wasn't looking. My neighbor has just taken on the responsibility of fostering a four year old. He's cute, but he's not an easy case. She took him from what had been the States residence of last resort. We were talking about this and the other children she had fostered in the past, and the boys her friend had fostered and adopted. Aparently, those boys used to erupt in obscenities when they were out in public. She wanted to wear a T-shirt to the effect that it wasn't her fault. So we were discussing the challenges of adopting an older child vs those of a newborn, including the birth. I mentioned how the foster system was like getting your family from the scratch and dent store, and how much work it is to refinish them.

There's not much more to be said about that. I feel I'm permitted to write about the "scratch and dent" kids since my neighbor and her friend think its so funny. Also, there's a place reserved in heaven for my neighbor. Her doors are wide open for the needy, be they human or animal.

eau la leche

I was reading my friend's blog about their baby Elliot Plum Campaign: Opening skirmishes in the life of EJWH: like milk into baby. Brandon had written a piece about Elliot being made entirely of milk. He takes in milk, and from that produces eyelashes and ears, not to mention the orange goo that's expelled. I thought about this and what an interesting idea it was, then I started over analyzing and getting technical. This is an amusing (or annoying) habit I have as a scientist. [Brandon, please don't take this personally, because I really do love your piece]. Technically though, it's a little less amazing. I mean milk consists of the same proteins, carbs, and fats that are available in food and even nonfood items, mixed in with the vitamins, minerals (carefully selected to be more bio-available). The good stuff is just provided in a fluid structure. These nutrients are either consumed as fuel, or rearranged into other proteins, fats, and carbs to make up the various tissues. The whole process is truly amazing, but the fact that the intermediary between my meal of Chicken Korma and cinnamon bears (these are not available in the Northeast! If you visit me from somewhere they are available, boarding fees with me are 5 lbs of cinnamon bears, preferably Sweets) Anyway, the milk is just a small step in the incredible biochemical process of life. OK, it is amazing that the child is made entirely of milk (outside of the womb), but this is such a small part of it that it becomes trivial in comparison. Plants for example are made solely of dirt and air. That's seemingly even further removed from living tissue than milk, which after all is manufactured by living tissue. The whole water into wine is a bit more impressive, if only because water doesn't contain the components of wine, that trick wasn't just rearranging, it took some conjuring.

The comment I have to add is that the new baby smell everyone loves, its milk! All those people out there who go around stealing whiffs from new babies heads (you know who you are), or atleast longing to, are just craving the white stuff! I'm not saying it would satisfy to open up the refrigerator and wave the jug under your schnauze, but if you get desperate, it may just take the edge off.

ps. NPR this morning had an interesting monologue about a perfume and food party, where the perfumes were paired to the food much like wines would normally be. There was some time given to how different smell combinations would combine to make other fragrances, for example vanilla plus clove, plus some other stuff--maybe lemon--blends to give the illusion of coca-cola. Check it: Perfume Dinner Is a Feast for the Nose

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Posable Action [Figure] Jackson

Jackson is just getting to the point where he makes a great posable action figure doll. We can prop him up in a corner, wrap his little hands around a toy, hold him up to stand, or even prop his pacifier or bottle in place with his fists. Good fun.

Milk Coma

After eating, Jackson usually falls into a milk coma. He can stay this way for hours, but unlike the standard coma, its pretty fleeting. Any movement will wake him. There's no getting away with a "Tuck and Roll" maneuver with the milk coma.

Super Sad Faces

These are Jackson's super sad faces. Triggered by either hunger, loneliness, wetness, or sleepyness. Usually the first or the last since the others are pretty easy to keep up with and the sadness doesn't come on so quickly. There is no stopping the sadness of hunger!

Friday, May 18, 2007

View from above

This is the view I have almost all day long every day. Look how sweet and precious my baby is. It's a joy to look down on him and see his little face. It's also frustrating to have 2 months off from work, a whole list of projects to work on, and to be unable to do anything because I have a 1 foot protrusion on the front of me, and my arms aren't long enough to reach anything. I can't even wash my hands effectively because the faucet is too far away to reach both hands under it at the same time. No, I can't put Jackson down. He'll cry, yes, even in the swing. But it could be worse. If I ever have any doubts, my mom can go on and on about what a needy baby I was. She had to carry me (no good quality carriers in the 70's) all day everyday. And it was either stand up and move around, or sit in the rocking chair and rock. Atleast with Jackson, I can strap him in and have both hands free, and although he prefers that I stay in motion, preferably climbing up and down the stairs, I can sit down with him. I'm sitting now, and he's peacefully sleeping on my lap. But for the most part, we get through the day with my walking around the house with him. This next photo is my dog, Mabel. She's also needy, and jealous that she's not getting much attention since I'm packing my infant around. She follows us everwhere, and tries to anticipate my every move. So I pace the house with a baby strapped to my front and a dog close behind, and running up ahead of my every step. And lunchtime adds another layer, the plate of food help at shoulder level so I hopefully can avoid whacking my precious cargo in the head. Plus another layer, my other dog, Ally the beagle. She's not so dependent, but food is her whole world and a tremendous motivational tool (In the photo, she's climbed 2 feet up to sit on the second shelf and guard the dogfood). So, I pace the house with an infant strapped to my chest, a plate held aloft in one hand, fork in the other, Coonhound following me, and beagle following my plate. I'm told this is the best time I'll ever have with my child, and that now is the time to really bond with him since we're together constantly. Well, they're right that these are good times, and I really love looking at my sweet little baby, but its just gotta get better.

Mother's Day

I had no idea about the general goodness of people when it comes to Mother's Day and new mothers in particular. I received jewelry (Thank you Jason and Jackson), flowers (Thank you Carolyn), a card suggesting Mother's Day was a day of rest (From my Mother), and a card suggesting it should really be a day for drinking (After a couple of weeks with a newborn, I agree. Thanks Nicole). But there is also the goodwill of the public, perfect strangers. Two teenage boys in the drugstore on Tuesday stopped me to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. I was startled. Teenage boys aren't generally known for random acts of kindness. I'm generally quite suspect of teenage boys who stop me to say something, I'll have to be less suspicious in the future. And then there are the people you bump into who want to say that their babies are 7 or 15, or granduating college now. Last week, someone came up to me in the parking lot and offered to take my cart up to the store front for me. That was really nice! Plus it saved me from being one of those people, since I wasn't going to leave my baby in the carseat on a hot day to walk the cart up myself. (OK, it saved me from being one of those people again, since I've started abandoning the carts as a rule if the cart return isn't in the next stall).

For my own gesture of goodwill, I'm taking back the snarky remarks I've made in the past about the women I know who when I ask what they do, they answer "I'm a mom". This response has always infuriated me, and I generally wait for them to continue or try to prod something more out of them. I'm changing my attitude. Sure, billions of people have shared in the same task and it may be a bit of a repetitive accomplishment. But its still hard. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

This is how Jackson's dad dresses him to go out. Well, OK he sent us to the new Mom's meeting wearing the "Automatic Sprinkler" onesie. This particular one says "Hello-oo-o Ladies". Yes, that's right, "Hello-oo-o Ladies". He said this was for Jackson's uncles to take him to the park and use him as a chick magnet. Babies are even better chick magnets than dogs, and with a catchy onesie like this, who could resist. I guess he has a point, except Jackson's uncles live 2500 miles away, so who here will be using him as a chick magnet?

We have another one, "Beefcake" "BEEFCAKE". It's a little bigger, so when Jackson grows a few more baby chins we can put him in a blue and yellow hat and send him out with it. Too bad we already have that supercute bear costume for Halloween, cuz this giant baby would make a great Cartman.


This is Jackson "playing" with his favorite toy, the monkey rattle. OK, he doesn't actually get the concept of play and toy yet. There's no cause and effect recognition, and he doesn't understand us when we tell him to shake his arm to make the monkey rattle. But the kid loves to shake his arms around, the monkey rattles, and the adults get it. Plus it makes a great photo! Jackson does recognize the bears on his pack and play as objects to reach for, and this morning, he was reaching for my face and grabbing my lips. It's a start.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Naming Ceremony

I think Jackson needs a naming ceremony. It's tradition in this culture to have a ceremony, but they're generally religious based--Christenings, Blessings, Dedications to God, What have you's. Religion has it's positives and negatives, but I think there's real value in ceremony. Since as his parents, we choose to be unaffiliated, Jackson isn't getting the benefit of the laying on of hands that we had as children. I was hoping to find some nice Wiccan friends to perform a ceremony for me when I had children, but in Connecticut, I've been unable to find, attract, and keep the fringe liberals as friends. (Sure, we have "liberal " friends, but they're more social rights type, not the free-spirited earth loving types I knew in the paradoxically conservative Utah.) There's a Peace activist church a few miles away which we could join, and find ceremony with. My mom, Jackson's Nana, had a great sugestion. That is: we make up our own ceremony. Invite our friends over, spill some wine, hold Jackson up naked to the full moon, and light off fireworks. This is a ceremony that might be doable. If any of you wants to participate--and wouldn't mind stopping off in Pennsylvania for some great fireworks, let me know! And I'm still open to other suggestions.

Rolling over.

Babies aren't supposed to be able to roll over at birth. But Jackson had initiated a pretty rigorous calisthenics workout in the womb. You could see his limbs lurching all over the place. It kept me distracted for hours everyday. Even some of my coworkers were distracted by it. All of those excercises resulted in a freakishly strong baby who lifts his head up high and has jaws of steel! So anyway (a shout out to Ted and keeping on topic). At about a week old, Jackson was sleeping on my chest and hurled his weight to the side, rolling over in the process. I don't think that really counts as rolling over because he had the advantage of elevation, slope and gravity. But yesterday, we were taking a nap, and I got up and left him. He ended up on his belly. So I was keeping a close eye on him since belly sleeping is now a big no-no. But I looked away, and when I returned my gaze, he was on his back. I think this counts as rolling over. There's no video, and no eye witness, and probably no intent, but I'm counting this one as a milestone.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jackson REALLY Smiles

Today, 3 week old Jackson showed off his first real smiles. I was holding him and having breakfast, explaining how purple horseshoes, blue diamonds, and green clovers are magically delicious. Jackson was grinning and sticking out his tongue. Before this, Jackson's smiles had been subtle and mixed in with the sleepy faces he makes when he first falls asleep. These smiles dissolved into tears before I could take the picture, but I did get one later in the day.