Sunday, December 31, 2006

What're you doing New Year's Eve?

I used to work at Talbot's (a dress shop, for those of you not in the know) during Christmas vacations in college, and the song "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" was featured on one of the soundtracks one year. It wasn't one of the worst songs on the CD, but I grew to dread it, just the same, after hearing it forty billion times while folding the same pile of turtleneck sweaters over and over.

So, why, you may be asking, would I refer to that song here on this blog, a place where I chronicle the life and times of my son? Er, because I couldn't think of a single other song that had "New Year's Eve" in it, other than all the Christmas songs that tack on New Year's as sort of a required afterthought.

Which is a very, very longwinded way of saying...we're not doing too much to usher out the old year and ring in the new. William is still recuperating from his cold/ear infection/RSV/bronchiolitis/flu/plague, and it's a series of ups and downs. Isn't that what life with a baby is like, though: a series of ups and downs? He was pretty fussy late yesterday afternoon and last night, even with a dose of Tylenol. But this morning, he was all smiles, ready for his cereal and pears. He's been in a better mood most of the day, give or take a little while this afternoon. We're pretty relieved. It's not that we really thought he was that sick, but you just never know. I'm a nervous first-time mom, after all, and David's a nervous first-time dad with too much information, so it was nice to see the temperature on the thermometer drop to a normal level today. And even nicer to see William ready to dance and giggle again.

But I couldn't let the holiday go completely uncommemorated. To let William celebrate NYE, I let him have a new food. Big people food, in fact. I gave him a piece of zwieback toast. (How on earth do you pronounce "zwieback," by the way? No one seems to know. I have to dance around saying it out loud for fear of mispronouncing it, because I dearly hate to mispronounce words and sound stupid or misinformed in front of other people, especially if they know how to pronounce the word correctly. Although I suppose in this case, I'm safe. But I digress.) However it's pronounced, the zwieback toast was a big, big hit.

Here he is, just getting started:

In some ways, I felt kind of silly, acting like giving him a piece of zwieback toast was a big deal. I mean, it's sort of like handing an adult something super exciting like, oh, I don't know, melba toast or fat-free cottage cheese and saying, "Whoop it up, bay-bee!" But since the closest thing William's had to real food is oatmeal or liquid turkey, I guess maybe it kind of is a big deal. Oh wait, I forgot. He did get smushed-up real banana one day. So this isn't his first real departure from baby food after all. But it was his first big experience with food that really looks and mimics real adult food, the stuff that he sees us eating and stares at with great baby longing in his big blue eyes.

By the way, zwieback toast, when gummed into submission by an eager baby, is messy. Messy with a capital M. Messy as in requiring multiple paper towels and baby wipes to clean up. Which I suppose makes it that much more fun for William. What the heck, right? He's been sick. He deserves a little messy fun!

By the way, David would like me to report that William is now attemping to clap his hands. We often clap our hands and say "Yay, William!" when he does something good (or even when he just sits there and looks cute). And we clap his hands together for him when we do "Pattycake." Now he's working on imitating us. He hasn't quite gotten it down yet: he tends to not open both of his hands up, and he doesn't always actually bang them together in front of him at the same time. But he's getting there.

P.S. No. 2: While I was writing this blog entry, I could hear William banging around with his toys in the living room. But I guess I got too engrossed with my writing because I didn't realize that he had become very quiet. Now, if he was a toddler, that would mean Trouble. But because he's still a baby, I just wondered what was going on. This is what I walked out to see.

I guess there was just too much fun and excitement this evening for one little guy to handle.

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! I plan to be snoozing, just like my son, when the actual hour of midnight arrives. Hope everyone has a good night.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sick but happy

William says, "I may be sick, but I'm still happy..."

And he also wanted y'all to know that yes, he is drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated.

Breaking news: William felt rather warm to me earlier, so I gave him some Tylenol, and he took a long morning nap. This afternoon, David worried that he might have a fever, and sure enough, the thermometer registered 101.9. David dug out his otoscope to have a look in the little prince's ears, and he saw some redness and whatever else signifies otitis media. So David just left for the hospital to pick up an antibiotic for William. Poor baby. I just put him down for his third nap of the day, and you can tell he doesn't feel well. He was starting to fall asleep on my lap, and he almost never does that anymore. Hopefully the antibiotic will knock out whatever's making him sick.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sick baby, again

It must be lousy to be a sick baby.

It's no picnic, being the sick mother of a sick baby, either, but at least I have control over my ownself. A sick baby, on the other hand, can't paw through the medicine cabinet for some cough drops or blow his nose to get some of that gunk out of his head. He can't change himself out of his sweat-soaked pajamas when his fever breaks, or demand a popsicle to assuage the ache in his throat.

William (and David and I) came down with some kind of cold while we were in Nashville. He wasn't acting overly fussy or anything, but he was coughing heavily, and he was wheezing a bit. But he didn't have a fever and wasn't acting listless or anything too alarming. I wasn't too worried, figuring he had the Typical Winter Cold, but David's pediatrician brain began to go into overdrive. Could be bronchiolitis, could be RSV, could even be the beginning of asthma!

This is what happens when your daddy's a doctor: your symptoms either get ignored with a casual flap of the hand, or else you get hauled into the doctor's office for a battery of tests. Guess which one William was subjected to today.

Poor little guy had to be held down while a doctor pumped saline drops into his nose and then suctioned the mucus out with a bulb syringe. In the understatement of the week, possibly the month, that proved to be very...shall we say, unpopular with young Master Wyckoff. Unpopular, unacceptable, uninvited, downright AWFUL OHMYGODWHYAREYOUDOINGTHISTOME STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP AAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHHHH!

I really sincerely hope that he does not have RSV. If that's what the test is like, I hate to think of the treatments. Dr. Perkins fretted that he'd never want to see her again, since he might associate her with that little procedure. But he's usually pretty forgiving.

To add insult to injury, the nurse had to hold William down again so that he could administer some Albuterol through an inhaler to him. David was worried about the possibility of asthma, given the wheezing, which is why he asked for William to receive some of that medicine. I held William in my lap and tried to hold his arms down so that he didn't batter the nurse too much. After all that effort, the Albuterol didn't seem to make much difference, one way or another. Except of course to traumatize William, since he had to sit there while this big bear of a man clamped a big plastic mask up over his mouth and nose. There are a lot of things that I don't enjoy, and holding down my child while he turns purple with anger and fear and thrashes around, whipping his head from side to side, is pretty much tops on my current list.

David advised me to let William play with the inhaler chamber, so he could get used to it. It might make him less afraid of it, David suggested. So I let William play with it (read: gnaw on it) this afternoon when he was playing with his blocks and his rings. He did seem a little less angry about the inhaler treatment this evening. At least he knew the treatment wouldn't last very long and then he'd be allowed to fling the inhaler around with glee.

And can I just say...God, I love William. After all that trauma this morning, he still gave me hugs and kisses later on when we got home. And I couldn't even sing songs to him because I lost my voice, so I'm all hoarse. He gets held down for scary medical treatments, doesn't even get to hear his favorite song ("The Wheels on the Bus") and yet he still loves me. He's such a good kid.

More Christmas photos

William with Grandaddy Aaron:

William with Mama Dee:

William with his mommy and daddy:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Christmastime in the city

I imagine that Christmas can be a bit confusing to an eight-month-old baby. People start singing overly catchy songs about bells and partridges and stars and stuff, and there are twinkly lights everywhere, even on trees and bushes, and there's this big fat man with a white beard and a loud fuzzy red suit shouting "Ho ho ho." I mean, you can just see William wondering, "What's THAT all about?"

But if William could talk, I bet he'd say that Christmas means two things: silly hats and wrapping paper.

We had a lovely Christmas trip to Nashville. Well, I say "lovely," but I have to admit that we did seem to spread mayhem in our wake. As loyal readers of this blog know, William had a rather colorful bout of gastroenteritis a couple weeks ago, and well, it seems that some spores might have hijacked a ride on some of his stuff and stowed away to Nashville. David joked that "Typhoid William" brought the plague with him to Nashville. Poor Aaron, then Diane, fell victim to that fun little virus. And apparently Mark was in the throes of it when we left. Nothing says Christmas and holiday fun like puking 'round the clock and gingerly sipping Gatorade. God, I still feel guilty about that.

But other than was great! We attended a couple of parties, visited David's new office-to-be (gorgeous) and visited with my brother, John. David and I cruised around a few neighborhoods, dreaming of our future house and wishing that we could afford this house in that neighborhood or that house in this neighborhood. My parents drove up after Christmas, and while I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with them, at least I got to see them, and they got to see William. William changes every day, and I just hated the thought of them not getting to see him learning to wave or pulling up to standing, with my help.

The Wyckoffs were so lovely to be so engaged with William, too, even when they weren't feeling well. And when Aaron and Diane weren't sick, they got right down on the floor with William and played with him and his toys. Diane held him on her lap so that William could "play" the piano. And Uncle Mark taught him how to make monkey noises--that was an especially big hit. William began screeching loudly, and David speculated that it was his attempt to make the monkey noises, too. John came over to hang out and brought William a stuffed puppy that sings and counts and does all sorts of stuff, and William seemed very enamored with it. And of course, William had a stocking full of presents to explore on Christmas morning...which we rushed through so we could put him down for his nap.

It was so much fun to see William learning how to tear wrapping paper from a present, or gaze up at the lights on the Christmas tree. He's so curious about everything, so observant. He stretches his little chubby hands out to touch things, and I just want to drink in the expression on his face as he fingers an ornament on the tree or grabs for the kitty's tail. It sounds so cliched to describe it as "wonder," but that's really what it is. These days won't last forever, so I'm glad that everyone was willing to risk being sick to spend a little time with William on his first Christmas.

Unfortunately, we all seemed to get sick during the trip. William and David and I all have a cold, and William and I have been doing a lot of coughing the last few days. For that reason, we decided to curtail some of our social activities the last few days. That means that we didn't get to visit with some of my friends. But we're coming back. That was the beauty of this particular holiday trip to Nashville: we're coming back and soon! Usually, I develop a sense of melancholy as our airplane lifts off, but not this time. We're returning in March to find a house, and March is just around the corner.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


William is all about discovery these days.

He's curious about just about everything. And if someone else has it, he's definitely interested in it, particularly if it resembles high tech electronic gadgetry or food that he's never tried yet. It all goes in his mouth anyway. That, or he beats on it with his fist, then tries to put it in his mouth.

Here he is, playing with Mommy's box of Cheez-Its. Note: he did NOT get to eat any of the Cheez-Its themselves. He just got to enthusiastically gum the box.

He has a pretty good time, exploring, though.

Fun fact about the photos posted above: you will notice that William is only wearing one sock--his left sock. No, he doesn't have a weird form of Michael Jackson Thriller syndrome. He just loves to pull on his right sock. If he's wearing a footed sleeper, he tugs at the foot of the sleeper. But when he's wearing socks, it's only a matter of time before he gets at least the right one off. And puts it in his mouth, natch.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Polar Bear William

Here's William in yet another Christmas outfit! This is his polar bear outfit, a gift from his Mama Dee. It has a hat to match, and I'll see if I can get a good picture of him wearing it...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A piggy bank for William

It's not even Christmas yet, and already William is getting presents!

My friend and former colleague Chris Mahr gave this fun little piggy bank toy to William. He doesn't quite understand yet that you're supposed to put the plastic coins into the piggy bank, not eat them. But give him time...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

On the mend

The little prince seems to be doing better today. He hasn't thrown up since the early hours of the morning, when it was still dark. But he's been tired and snuggly, so we've had lots of cuddle time and lots of napping today. Also, I've been trying to coax him to nurse and drink some Pedialyte.

He even played with some of his toys in his crib this afternoon after waking up from an extended nap. Thankfully, he seems to be on the mend. He doesn't look that sick, does he?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The good, the bad, and the yucky

The good news: In the past couple of days, we think William has learned to wave. I swear that he waved at me last evening when David brought him into the kitchen. Of course, it may just be that he has learned how to make the motion, and he is not really waving at me, per se, but just waving in general. Still, it's pretty cute.

The not-so-good news: William got sick today. I was driving to the base to take him to his playgroup's Christmas party, and I heard this horrible gurgling, choking noise from the backseat. It turned out to be poor little William, projectile vomiting his lunch all over everything. I screeched to a halt, spraying dust everywhere, and bolted out of the car to get to him. He was just covered in vomit (needless to say, that's the yucky part alluded to in the title), and so was everything in his car seat with him. I called David and rambled some hysterical message about William, then frantically drove home. I extricated the little guy from his gunk-coated seat, plunked him into the bathtub, and began the long process of trying to coax him to take more fluids.

Weirdly, William was actually in a pretty good mood. He got upset the times that he actually vomited, but then he'd be okay. He wasn't overly exuberant, but he was smiling and cooing some. He sat on a blanket on my bed and played with his shape-sorter blocks, just as content as he could be. He took his usual dinnertime nap, but unfortunately woke himself up by throwing up. David came home from work and convinced him to take some Pedialyte from a sippy cup. As David said, you could tell he didn't feel well because he just didn't seem to have that sparkle in his eyes. My poor baby. He did just fine in the tub (again), but when I nursed him before bed, it all came back up. He's in his crib now. I hope he gets some sleep. David warned me to expect a lot of wakeups tonight, and I'm dreading that.

David said that William will be just fine, that it's just a bug that's going around. We think William may have contracted it from one of the kids in his YMCA class, or maybe from the childcare center. Or both. I guess it's also just inevitable that babies (and children) get sick from time to time. I just hope that William starts to feel better soon!

Monday, December 11, 2006


William has discovered...the cats.

Much to their chagrin, that is. As far as they're concerned, the Golden Age of William is drawing to a close.

William now tracks their movements when they walk across his line of sight. If he's lying on the bed, getting dressed, and Corky jumps up on the bed, he arches his back to watch her. Or if Smokey walks across the sofa when William and I are sitting up there, he wiggles around to try to reach out and grab a tail or an ear.

Not only has he discovered the cats, he loooooves the cats. He reaches out with a slobbery palm to "pet" the kitty, and his whole face lights up. He laughs out loud and "talks" to the kitty. He lunged off my lap to grab a fistful of Smokey's fur this evening when we were all hanging out on the sofa in the living room. Smokey, who was previously curled up on David's lap, decided that hey, maybe the floor was a better place to hang out after all.

Then, Corky got her turn. When David was reading "Good Night Moon" to William, Corky thought it would be nice to snuggle up next to them. William had been reaching out to grab the pages of his book, but then he spotted the ball of black fur. He immediately ignored the book and reached out for Corky. He giggled and giggled and even began his little side-to-side dance that he does when he's really happy.

Just wait, I told the cats. In a matter of weeks, William is going to be mobile. Then you're really going to find out what it's like to have a baby in the house!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sign language

Ever since I learned about baby sign language a few years ago, I was eager to teach my own child some basic signs. Supposedly it helps babies communicate before they're able to talk and resolves some of that frustration that arises because of the communication gap. I also read that some studies propose that babies who learn signs actually talk earlier than their non-signing peers, although I don't know if that will be the case with William or not.

At any rate, I wanted to give it a try. I bought a box of sign language cards at a bookstore in Natchez this summer, and I pulled them out when William turned seven months old right before Thanksgiving.

So far, I've only been using a small handful of signs with him--and all of them are related to eating and drinking. We do "milk," "more," "food," and "all done." I started "water" and "thirsty" today, and I'll probably start using the sign for "sleep" soon, too. (Although we really don't need the "sleep" sign; when William rubs his eyes, that's his sign for "I'm tired. The clock is now ticking, and you only have a finite amount of time in which to get me into my crib.")

William always smiles when I sign for him. I say "milk" when I hand him his sippy cup. He smiles. I ask him, "More?" when I'm feeding him his baby food, and he grins. I think he just likes it when I talk to him, but if he's not crying when I make the sign, I take it as a "yes." But actually, he has his own sign language for "more." He sticks both arms straight out to the side and waves his fingers. If he's doing that, he's still hungry. Another way to tell if he wants more food is to hold the spoonful of food about six inches away from his mouth. If he wants it, he grabs my hand and pushes it (with the spoon) toward his open mouth. Or he leans as far forward as he possibly can and gulps at the spoon. He likes to go "mmm, mmmm, mmm" while he eats, which is also hilarious. If I slow down too much, though, he gets indignant and cries out and waves his little pudgy hands even more. I take that as his preverbal communication sign for "Speed it up, Mom! I'm starving to death here!"

And when the jars of chicken/turkey/green beans/squash/whatever are empty, I tell him "all done" and make the sign. He'll smile, but I think he usually doesn't realize, "Oh, there's really not any more food" until I stand up and clear away the jars and spoons. That doesn't always go over so well, even if he really isn't hungry anymore. ("What? No more food? That can't be right. I was just hoovering down my squash and turkey. Are you sure there's not any more? Why don't you check again? OH, and be quick about it!") That's why I save "milk" until after the food's gone.

From what I've read, he's still too young to make any signs back to me. But the books say to keep it up, that eventually he'll catch on. So we'll keep it up. The way I see it is: it can't hurt. It's kind of fun, too. It gives us another way to interact.

Another way for William to communicate: via remote control...

Here he is with his daddy, and both of their remote controls (and one of the kitties), watching Sunday afternoon football:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas lights

Since we'll be spending Christmas in Nashville with the Wyckoffs, I decided not to do the full-metal Christmas at home this year. No tree, no decorations, etc.

Except that I have this sweet little guy, and I started to feel sorta guilty about not having a tree with pretty shiny lights on it. So I bought a little tiny tree at Target, the kind that's "prelit" so I wouldn't have to wrestle a string of lights onto it. It's not much, but at least it's something. A very little something.

I also gamely attempted to string some lights on the house today. Same reason: the guilt factor. We live on a street where nearly every house puts up lights every year, and we've never participated. This year, I realized that I no longer any excuse: I'm not working, and I have a receptive audience in-house.

How come no one told me that it's much harder--and requires more equipment--to hang Christmas lights than I thought? I mean, am I really going to have to get out the ladder and hammer some nails into the eaves of the roof to hang lights? William sat in his Bumbo seat by the front door and stared at me as I dropped little hooks and broke bulbs and wondered out loud how the heck I was going to do this. So far, all we have up is one red/green/white string around the door, but it's a start! To make it up to William for having parents who are non-crafty, non-decorative, non-Martha Stewart types, we piled him into his stroller and rolled him up and down our street tonight so he could look at all the pretty lights.


Random William anecdote:

William loves to "kiss" us. It is the funniest thing. I guess he's used to us kissing his little cheeks, so now he leans into us and "kisses" us on our cheeks. Only he hasn't really gotten the kissing motion down yet. He tends to open his mouth wide and frantically gum your cheek, leaving a big old slobbery circle on your face. But oh my, I have to say, it is the sweetest, funniest thing ever. I always squeal and laugh when he "kisses" me, which he loves, and it just makes me so, so happy.

That sounds so lame when I try to write it out, but it's one of those things that makes me think, "This. This is why I am glad I'm a parent. This is one of the greatest moments of my life. This, right now." Last night, David and I were listening to the new Sarah MacLachlan Christmas CD, and William was sitting in my lap. After he finished nursing, he leaned backwards to giggle at his daddy. Then he gave us both some of his famous "kisses." I said to David, "This is one of the best times ever." And it was.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I left my hat in San Francisco

William really is becoming quite the seasoned traveler. He and I tagged along with David last week when he went to San Francisco for a medical conference. And while William is becoming a veteran road (and air) warrior, David and I are becoming experts on Packing With Baby (PWB). We stuffed the Accord to the very brim with toys, baby food, the Bumbo seat, a stroller, clothes, extra clothes, more extra clothes, and so forth, and we set out for a long (very long, but that's a story for another, much more boring day) drive upstate to the Bay Area.

While David studied sports medicine in a big hotel in Japantown, William and I went sightseeing. We shopped in Union Square, ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe, tromped up and down the hills of Chinatown, narrowly avoided being hit by a cable car, rode the bus, and gawked at the massive Christmas tree in the middle of Union Square. I also rescued William's shoes about a hundred times, since he seemed to be determined to leave a souvenir somewhere around the city.

Here is William, kicking up his heels (and going for those shoes) in Chinatown:

I also got really ambitious and took the BART to Berkeley one day. BART is the Bay Area's version of the Metro or subway. It's actually much easier to navigate than the bus system, plus you don't have to fold up the stroller. Of course, it's also indirectly responsible for William's first exposure to drugs. We exited the train at the downtown Berkeley station and searched for the elevator to take us to the street. When the doors slid open, we both got a faceful of marijuana-scented air. Nice. Breathe in, kiddo. This is what the counterculture smells like! Is that the Grateful Dead I hear?

By the way, I plan to put this on my Parent of the Year application. Took child to Berkeley, check. Exposed child to marijuana at very young age, check. Took child to wineries the very next day, check.

We also lost one of my favorite hats at the University of California. When we got off the train, William was wearing his navy blue hat with the frog on it. By the time I huffed and puffed my way through the main part of the campus (from walking uphill, thanks!), he had managed to take it off and fling it somewhere. To paraphrase the old song, William left his hat in San Francisco. (Har. Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week.) No way was this out-of-shape body going to retrace my steps, so we detoured into the Cal bookstore to buy a hat. So now my child has a Berkeley hat. I think it made up for the fact that I was wearing a bright red--Stanford red--sweater on campus on the day of the huge Cal-Stanford game. Maybe. Maybe William's new hat cancelled out my rather poor (given the circumstances) fashion choice.

The funny thing is, it was the one day that I didn't pull the Mom Executive Fashion Privilege and subject him to wearing something that would surely make people go "awwww." All the other days, he wore his Santa Claus hat. It generated lots of comments from people. The good people, that is. I have little respect for people who are so tragically hip and wear ironic clothes in a painfully earnest way that they don't have time to smile at a baby in a Santa hat who's directing a gummy smile up at them. I mean, sure, I'm biased and I think William is practically edible. But really. Can you really resist this face?

It was a good trip. But oh, we were tired when we got home on Monday night. William is much more fun these days, certainly, but he also doesn't sleep very well at night away from home. We were up and down several times at night with him, and when added to all the walking we did, we managed to wear ourselves out. And the drive home through the Central Valley and the LA area was loooong. Long and boring. But at least we didn't have to deal with the airport. Thank God for small favors.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Picasso of Star Dune Avenue

I can't believe I didn't think about posting this last week. Man, I'm such a slacker. Here you go!

This is William's very first piece of artwork. It's not hanging on my refrigerator yet, but don't worry, it will be.

William made this (with my help) during our playgroup's Thanksgiving week meeting. The idea was for the parents to either trace their kids' hands or feet on the pieces of paper and then have the kids decorate them, or the parents could paint their kid's feet and stamp them on the paper. Katie, the playgroup organizer, furnished sheets of contact paper so that everyone could laminate the finished products and make coasters out of them.

Most of the kids ended up just painting on the sheets of paper. At first, I thought about trying to hold William's hand still and trace it on the paper, but I quickly realized that was probably futile. So I did something even sillier: I gave my seven month old child a little sponge paintbrush with paint on it and let him dab it on a sheet of paper.

Let me repeat that. I gave my seven month old child a paintbrush with paint on it. On purpose.

Needless to say, I held his hand very, very tightly in my own hand while he was doing this.

The result, you see before you. Doesn't he have a nice command of color and a good sense of placement on the page? Should this be considered his yellow period, or maybe, given the choice of paper color, his blue period? Heh. Anyway. He had fun. He didn't get too much paint on him. I got a piece of artwork to save for the baby book. Everybody won.

By the way, grandmas, you'll certainly get your fair share of refrigerator artwork in the years to come. I hope you don't mind if I save this first one for myself.


Gratuitous photo alert! Here's the little prince in one of his other Christmas outfits.

PT for me

Today was Career Day for William. He got to tour the local physical therapy office here in Twentynine Palms today, while I had my first physical therapy session for my Bell's Palsy. I guess I should say that today was another Career Day for William. He's already gotten a taste of the medical world, plus he's visited my old office at the newspaper.

The physical therapy session was really interesting. The therapist asked me a raft of questions about the Bell's Palsy---how it first developed, how it progressed, and how I've been regaining function, whether I've had any pain and where, about my past medical history, and so on. And she asked me a lot about my ears and the area around my left ear (my affected ear). She asked me if I'd ever had shingles or chicken pox. I had a monster case of chicken pox in 1979, which I told her about, and she asked if I'd had any pox in my ears. I didn't know, and when I called Mom, she didn't remember. Because there is supposedly a link between a herpes virus and the palsy, the therapist mused that it's possible there could have been a connection between the long dormant virus in my system and the palsy. She detected some inflammation in and around my left ear, and she talked a little about the possibility that I may still have some of the swelling putting pressure on the cranial nerve.

So she manipulated my head and neck to try to work the muscles and to see if she could determine more about the inflammation on my left side. Then I had some type of electric current therapy, where a technician directed a weak current through the muscle in my neck, sort of below my left ear. Then the therapist gave me some facial exercises to work on between sessions. I'm oversimplifying by summing up, of course, but she seemed very enthusiastic about being able to help me. I admit that I was relieved that the therapist called my case a "textbook case" and was optimistic about my regaining even more function. I had worried that she'd tell me that I'd likely never see any better movement in my face than what I have now. Obviously, I look much better than I did even a few months ago, but oh, it would be wonderful to regain even more movement and control.

William was good as gold during the whole session. He sat in his stroller and quietly played with his horse toy most of the visit, only occasionally serenading us with one of his little "songs." When the tech put the electrodes on my neck, however, William stopped playing and stared in fascination at the beeping machine. It sounded a little bit like those old electronic Battleship games to me, but I guess he'd never heard anything quite like it. The therapist laughed, too, when she glanced over at him while she was stretching my neck out because apparently he was gazing up at her with rapt attention, almost like he was memorizing her movements. Maybe! You never really know what goes on inside his little brain.

He was such a good baby today, especially considering that he hadn't had a nap all day, and my appointment was from 1 to 2 p.m. It was really gracious of the PT center and the therapist to let me bring him, too. Some places frown upon children, but not this place. They even told me that they could have an aide watch him if he was fussing while I still was undergoing treatment. For that, I really am grateful. I know that I can always put William in the CDC on base for a few hours, but it's nice to be able to save those occasions for other things.

Next PT is Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On the first day of Christmas...

The Christmas season has begun. Actually, the retail industry decreed that it began back in August, but for most of us, it doesn't really begin until after Thanksgiving. Turkey Day is now behind us, so I can now officially recognize Christmas as looming on the horizon. In accordance with that, I've pulled out William's wardrobe of holiday outfits, which have been sitting in a drawer, waiting for the right time. William just asked me to take his picture in one of his new Christmas outfits, and of course, I was willing to oblige. This was taken just moments ago, while he was sitting on my lap, helping me surf the 'Net....

Isn't it interesting, how I wouldn't dare be caught dead in a Christmas-themed sweater, but I have no problem dressing up my son (who has no choice in the matter) in all manner of crazy holiday costumes? My excuse is, well, he's cute. He'll be wearing jeans, T-shirts and sneakers all the time soon enough. Stay tuned, we'll be running through the Christmas wardrobe repertoire over the next five weeks or so--you know, to get as much wear out of the outfits as possible during the officially sanctioned Christmas period.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Turkey is just fine with William

We all know that David loves turkey. Turkey is crucial to David's enjoyment of Thanksgiving. So it was only appropriate that William receive his first taste of turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Well, as it turns out, William is definitely his daddy's boy. Not that there was any doubt, mind you, but this would definitely clinch it. The boy loves--LOVES--turkey.

He took a long lovely nap on Thanksgiving afternoon while the adults were eating. But when he finally woke up, it was time for him to have his own little Thanksgiving feast. The menu: turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans.

I offered him his first bite of turkey (baby food turkey mixed with a little bit of formula, but still turkey), and he opened his little mouth warily to accept the food. But once he tasted it, his eyes widened a bit, and his mouth popped back open for more. He liked the turkey! He liked the gooey turkey mixture that even I was skeptical about. Here I was, all nervous because he's been anything from hostile to ambivalent about fruit, and then I sniffed the baby food turkey with some reservations but served it anyway. And apparently, turkey is A-OK with the little prince. Just like David, William loves his Thanksgiving turkey. He even scarfed up the leftovers on Friday evening, just like his daddy, who ate a big plate of leftover turkey, broccoli casserole, corn pudding, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes.

Too bad that no commercial outfit makes baby pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Twas the night before Thanksgiving

It's almost Thanksgiving time once again! I feel like all I've been doing the last few days is running back and forth to the grocery store, picking up items that I forgot to get on the last trip or to search for items that are hard-to-find "must haves." That is, they are "must haves" in David's universe. I'm not that picky about Thanksgiving dinner. Ask me about the year that my family ate lasagna for Thanksgiving. Also famous in Larson family lore is the hamloaf. It's a cousin to meatloaf. Or maybe more of the wacky uncle to meatloaf. But I digress.

And for the record, apricot JellO for the congealed salad that I won't eat is only available at the Stater Bros. grocery store. I know this because my parents braved about a half dozen grocery stores last year, only to forget which one actually sold the stuff. So this year, I trolled grocery stores until I found the silly stuff. Stater Bros. And no one seems to be selling David's favorite pie anymore, so I guess he'll have to settle for a Mrs. Smith's Homemade Pumpkin Pie this year, instead of the Mrs. Smith's Pumpkin Custard Pie. (Sorry, kid.)

Anyway, seeing as how it's Thanksgiving, I thought I'd just write down a few thoughts on what I'm thankful for this year. I'm always thankful for my family and friends, my health, the fact that I've been so lucky in life this far, and of course, I'm thankful for David. Last year, I remember being thankful that I was pregnant and that the morning sickness was starting to taper off a bit. This year, I'm so lucky to have a healthy, happy (most of the time) baby son who gets bigger and funnier every day. I look at William, and I really am thankful that he is here with me and David. Sure, there are times when I'm tired, or he's crying inconsolably, when I forget to be grateful. Usually those times come in the middle of the night, or when William is adamantly refusing to take a much-needed nap. But then there are times when he's bouncing in my lap, wobbling on his legs and "kissing" me all over my face and giggling, and well, it just doesn't get any better than that.

So, once again, I'm grateful for my family and friends, for David--and now also for William. I'm grateful that we'll be moving to Nashville next summer, and I'm grateful that I have a few minutes right now to write this all down, so that I don't forget.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Don't forget to be thankful for the little things, not just the big things. The devil may be in the details, as the old cliche says, but God usually is, too. And check back here. I'll try to get some shots of William eating turkey tomorrow.

And just because it's a darling and hilarious photo, I'm going to post a picture of William and his friend Madison. A few of us got together this morning at Luckie Park. After a few strolls around the playground, the little ones got to take a few turns on the baby swings. Madison is officially a Big Girl--she can walk all by herself--so she helped William out by pushing his swing for him. Check out his expression. I promise that he really was having a good time!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A friend the same age as William

Here's a really cute picture of William with his friend Mason.

Mason is six days older than William. I met his mom, Beth, a few months ago, and we realized that we had sons almost the exact same age. Mason's daddy is still in Iraq, so Beth is shouldering the duty of being two parents by herself right now. (I can't even imagine how she does it, but she does.) Since we both live off base, we decided to get together and hang out.

Beth and I are enjoying trading first-time-mom stories and comparing notes on baby products and other stuff. This stroller, that baby food, this toy, that outfit, and so on. How the boys reacted to eating certain solid foods, where to get the best baby outfits, what kind of car seat to buy next, etc. etc. So we get together and let the boys "play together" while we talk. Sure, Mason and William are really too young to "play together" right now, but we like to put them next to each other and let them check out the other baby.

On Thursday, we went over to their house for lunch and playtime. I put William down on a quilt on the floor. Mason's already crawling (!), and he crawled over and began touching William's head and face. Not to be outdone, William grabbed ahold of Mason's head and shoulders a couple of times. They seemed very curious about each other. William hasn't been around any other babies his exact age, so it's fun to watch his eyes widen as he takes it all in.

I've been telling William to take notes, too, since Mason's already got the crawling thing mastered and is closing in fast on standing. But Beth says that it's keeping her on her toes, trying to keep up with Mason, so maybe it's better if William stays put for a little while longer. It's nice to be able to put William on the floor with his blocks and not have to chase after him. Plus, we haven't even started babyproofing the house yet. I need to get moving on that, though, because William is already squirming around some, and I know these days are numbered.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A visit with an old pal

Remember when William was a little tiny guy, and Mr. Froggy was nearly as big as he was? Yeah, I barely remember it either. Mr. Froggy's mostly been hiding out in a remote corner of William's crib these long months, but William rediscovered him the other day when he was looking for something to play with. Tonight, he decided to revisit his old pal. Notice that he's also clutching a couple of other pacifiers at the same time. It's a veritable festival of binkies in William's crib!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Keep that fruit away from me

So it seems that I have a kid--perhaps the only kid--who doesn't like fruit.

For a week, William happily ate applesauce. He ate it plain, he ate it warm, he ate it cool, he ate it mixed with oatmeal. He liked it any which way; with apologies to Dr. Seuss, I think he probably would have liked that applesauce with a fox, he would have liked that applesauce in a box.

Then, on Sunday, William changed his mind. He's free to do that, of course, but man, that was weird. All of a sudden, he made this horrible moue. He gagged and stuck his tongue out, and if he could have grabbed his throat with both hands, he probably would have done so. Instead, it was a series of gagging, rolling his eyes back in his head, and drooling the applesauce back out of his mouth.

Okay, I thought. You're on strike against applesauce. Let's try bananas. So on Monday, we introduced bananas.

Bananas. Strike two.

More of the "yuck!" face. It didn't matter if I setved the bananas warm, cold, or mixed up in oatmeal. He was like, "None of this stuff for me, Mom. No, sir."


David said optimistically, "Maybe he'll like pears. Or peaches."

Yeah. I hope so. How on earth did we have a baby who will happily gobble down suspicious-smelling green beans and peas but draws the gustatorial line at sweet, harmless fruits? Who knows? I warned William that if he didn't develop a fondness for bananas, he'd miss out on one of the great childhood experiences: eating a banana like a monkey. He was not persuaded.

So I guess we'll try the pears or peaches in a couple of days. I plan to keep offering the bananas for a couple more days, in the silly hope that William will change his mind. But David said that we probably could just put the bananas away and offer them again in a few more weeks. Or we could mush up some real bananas and see if William prefers their taste and texture to the admittedly rather viscous mixture that comes out of a baby food jar. I might try that, too.

But isn't this weird? Who choose green peas over applesauce? Squash over bananas? My son, that's who.

So on to the next fruit. Let's hope the little prince finds one that he'll deem worthy of his time.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Floor time

Another day, another discovery. William is sitting up on his own these days. Actually he's been doing it for quite awhile. But we discovered a little trick this week that allows him to sit upright on the floor and play with his toys without requiring us to sit right next to him in case he tips over.

We just put the Boppy nursing pillow behind him, sort of a just-in-case method of support. If he leans backward or too far to one side, the pillow is there to catch him. This helps him avoid the traumatic head-bonking that has brought other play sessions to an early finish. But he can still lean forward and sideways to reach his toys. This makes him Very Happy. This also makes Mommy and Daddy happy because we can put him down on the floor, and we don't have to sit right next to him with one vigilant hand ready to catch him--or at least break his fall.

Since he's just about to outgrow the bouncy chair (sniff, sniff) and the swing, this is a real godsend. We used to put him in the bouncy chair or swing when we needed to put him down for a little while. Well, he's growing like a weed, and we still need to be able to put him down for short periods of time while we fix or eat dinner, answer the phone, etc. etc. Now we can. With the added bonus of the fact that William really loves to be able to hang out with all his toys. Way more fun than just reclining in the bouncy seat. I'm getting a little nostalgic about the phasing-out of the bouncy seat, but the reality is we've been using it less and less over the last couple of months. His feet hang over the end of it, and he almost never drifts off to sleep in it anymore. I guess that we'll have to put it away soon.

I do have to admit, William is so much more fun now than he was when he was really little. He's so interactive. We've started playing peekaboo with him, and he loves that. And he laughs so much now, too. One of my new favorite things to do is to hold him up in front of me when he finishes nursing and allow him to "stand" in my lap. Usually, since he's just nursed, he's in a pretty good mood. He then locks his legs and stands on my lap, with my assistance, and just laughs and laughs. Then he sort of buckles forward and hugs me. It's really pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vote early and often

William got his first civics lesson yesterday. I took him with me to vote in the midterm election.

I voted in the primary back in June, but Mom was here, and she stayed with the baby while I dashed up the street to cast my ballot. This time, William accompanied me into the voting stall. I remember going with my own mother to vote, back when we were living in Hoover when I was a child. She always voted at our church, and I remember how she stood in line to have her name checked off on the list of voters. I remember being a little envious of the little oval white "I voted" sticker that she would receive, since that was the era in which I was so nuts about stickers that I had about three different jam-packed sticker books. But the message definitely came through: vote, and vote every time that you have the opportunity to do so. I plan to make sure that William learns the same lesson.

So William went to the seventh-day adventist church that is home to my polling station. For his patriotism yesterday, he got a "I voted electronically" sticker, which I promptly affixed to his overalls. He wore it proudly...until he tried to eat it and I had to take it away from him. Ah well. Still. I hope it's just the beginning of William's future as an American citizen taking an active role in shaping the future of his country.

Now, if we can just get him to learn the lesson that it's a good thing to sleep all night long, we'll be doing great. He was sleeping so well, usually going from around 8:30 or 9 until around 6 to...well, I can't even keep track of all the nighttime wakeups that he's had the last few nights. He settles down if he sees you standing over the crib, but then he wails when you walk away. Sometimes he is crying because he has spit out his binky, and then other times, he wails with the binky still in his mouth. I'm not sure what to do.

Last night, after we split about six different trips into the baby's room, David speculated that William's beginning to start teething. So I gave William a dose of grape-flavored Tylenol. He quieted down for maybe 45 minutes. That's it. Nothing seems to be working to convince William that a good night's sleep is good for everyone, himself included. We're discussing sleep-training, but we're wondering if we should give him another night or two to work things out, since we have been out of town so much lately---and that does tend to wreak havoc on his sleeping. All I know is that I really, really want a full night's sleep again, and much as I love my son, I really don't want to see--or hear!--this much of him at night.

Who knows. Maybe last night, he was keyed up about his first voting experience. But hopefully, we'll find a solution to this little problem. As everyone knows, I dont' function very well without enough sleep. It's not pretty.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rhodes Scholar

I promised to write about my recent trip to Memphis, and here I am, following up on my promise.

My college class held its tenth reunion in late October. It's hard to believe that I've been a Rhodes grad for ten years (and counting) now, but there you go. Since moving to California, I've only made it back to Memphis a couple of times, and I had only barely seen the campus in the last few years. So for months, I looked forward to seeing all my old friends, seeing the campus again, and introducing William to both my friends and my college. He also got to meet his great-grandfather, Grandaddy Dudley, since we stayed at Grandaddy Dudley's house for the long weekend.

Even though David couldn't go with us, I'm so glad that William and I went. William, Mom and I toured the campus on that Friday afternoon. As alumnae, Mom and I both got official Rhodes Homecoming buttons, and they even humored me and gave me one for William. So all weekend, he wore a button that said "William Wyckoff, Class of '28".

But the best part was seeing everyone. Other than Nancy, I hadn't seen any of my friends since becoming pregnant or having William. It felt so good to see everyone again. Of course, William had to meet his auntie Loretta, since she is going to be the bad influence on him as he grows up, heh heh.

And he got to meet so many of my other friends, too...

And he definitely had to spend some quality time with Phuong, without whom I might not have survived parenthood. If I can one day help a new mom friend even half as much as she has helped me, well, I'll be doing pretty good. Here's a photo of Phuong and William in the traditional Rhodes College Homecoming Beer Garden. Don't worry, William consumed no beer (that I know of).

So now William has gotten a small taste of what it's like to be a Rhodes Scholar. (Yes, of course, you knew that joke was coming. I guess you can never beat that dead horse too much.) Two college visits in one month. Not bad for a six-month old. I'll give him some more time to decide which one he wants to attend. No rush. He doesn't actually have to submit his application for another, oh, seventeen years. He will have to go back for a future visit, of course. He didn't get a chance to ride the Lynx or eat in the Rat. We did wander through the Rat, but given that we're still introducing basic foods to him, I didn't think it would be kind to subject my young son to Wild Italian Skillet so soon.

I have a bunch of other photos, too, and I'll try to post some of them later. Also, friends, if you have some good ones, send them my way and I'll post them. I have a series of photos of a bunch of the Bellingrath Babes, and in every single of them, someone has her eyes closed (Jessica, Emoke, I'm looking at you!).

By the way, William loved his Great-Grandaddy Dudley. Grandaddy had lots of toys to play with, including a small wooden train engine, that kept William very happy while he was sitting in his high chair, waiting for someone to feed him already.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or treat

When you need someone to do a job, you gotta get the right person.

And for handing out candy on Halloween, I needed to find someone small, adorable, and dressed in a jack-o-lantern outfit. Where could I find such a candidate, I wondered. Hmmm.

Luckily for me, I didn't have to ponder the problem for very long. William was ready and willing to do the job--and to do the job right.

William also got his picture taken this morning with his doctor, Dr. Perkins, because he wore his jack-o-lantern costume to the doctor's office. By the way, here are the little prince's latest vital stats, as of today's six-month well-baby visit: 26.9 inches long (but I think he's longer), 18.3 pounds, and his head is 44 cm in circumference. He's in roughly the 50th percentile for everything except weight, where he falls between the 50 and 75th percentile on the growth curve. He's healthy and happy and pretty darn perfect. Er, if I do say so myself.


I promise to soon post a recap of William's and my trip to Memphis to attend my tenth college reunion at Rhodes. I also plan to post a story about William's baptism in Natchez last weekend, along with photos. Short version: I had fun introducing William to Rhodes and all my darling Rhodes friends, and we had a terrific time in Natchez, visiting with all sort of family members. So stay tuned.

Monday, October 16, 2006

My So-Called Professional Life

Here's another thing that the baby books completely ignore: how to make your baby shush while you're trying to carry on an important phone call.

As you all know, I'm trying to maintain some semblance of a professional life by doing some freelance writing. My current assignment is to write a story about a man in Texas who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer two years ago. The story will run on, which was the Web site in San Diego that I wrote for before joining the staff of The Desert Sun when David and I moved to the desert.

So my contact arranges a telephone interview today at 2:30 p.m. Which sounded great to me. Plus, typically, William is napping around that time of day---not always, but often enough.

You know what's coming, don't you? And of course, you're right. The little prince went down in his crib with nary a peep around 1 p.m.....only to wake up with a screech at 2:10. I hurriedly nursed him, thinking that if he's not hungry, he'll be relatively cheerful and well-behaved. Except apparently well-rested and well-fed are not enough for William. He must also be well-entertained. The boy does not like to be ignored.

So while I attempted to conduct a professional interview about the prognosis of breast cancer in men and the pervasiveness of advertising about the disease that is aimed toward only women, William sat next to me in his bouncy seat and repeatedly spat out his binky and whined. Then the whining escalated into crying. Mr. Ducky and Freddie the Firefly were tossed aside in his quest to Make Mommy Pay Attention to Me Now! Now! NOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!

Sigh. The cancer patient and his oncologist were very understanding, but still! Of course, as soon as I finished the interview and hung up, I turned to William, who...stopped crying. He's now sitting here in my lap, lunging for the keyboard and occasionally gnawing on my arm. And yes, he's happy as a clam now. Or happy as a lark. Or happy as insert-your-cliche-here. My own personal favorite cliche would have to be "happy as a little boy who finally finally finally got his mommy's attention."

What a way to conduct business!

* * *

In other news, William discovered a couple nights ago that he could fit his toes into his mouth. We also think he may be teething, but we're not sure. He has started being able to transfer a toy from one hand to the other, a skill that the doctors look for at the six-month mark, which he will hit this coming Sunday. Also, I weighed him this morning at the hospital. Fully dressed and with a diaper on, he was 18 pounds and 10 ounces, so his real weight is somewhat less than that. Still. What a nice little chunk of baby, eh?

Friday, October 13, 2006

The baby food frontier

Today marks Day 5 in the Sweet Peas experiement. That's my unofficial code name for the five-day introduction of William's first real baby food. (I'm not really counting the, I mean, rice cereal. I don't think he does, either. Rice cereal arrives in a bowl with a spoon but that's about all you can say for it. The other day, in solidarity with my son, I ate a bowl of my own version of rice cereal, Special K, while I fed him his rice cereal. He looked sadly at my bowl full of flakes and then down at his own bowl of mush and then back at mine. And I swear that he sighed. )

So, tomorrow we start a new food. I've been going back and forth: green beans or sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes or green beans? Then last evening, while I was standing in the baby food aisle at Target, I suddenly thought, "What about squash? Why did I never think of squash?"

David is lobbying for green beans, because he wants to expose William to the various savory vegetables first before moving on to the sweeter and more palatable foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and fruits. The baby books all suggest offering a sweeter food first because the babies might like them more, but lots of parents advised me to try a (less-sweet) veggie first. The logic there is that you give the baby the veggies first and let them get accustomed to them, then bring out the sweet foods so that the baby doesn't get used to the sweet foods first and then reject the less-sweet veggies. That made sense to me, so that's why we launched Operation Baby Food with a volley of peas.

But I started feeling sort of guilty. First I foist that bland old rice cereal mush off on him, then I give him peas. There are so many good foods out there, and yes, I know he'll be able to try many of them eventually, but it just seems so sad that he watches us eat with so much longing...then gets rice gruel and/or peas. And then instead of finally getting something tasty, he might get mushed up green beans. Now, I happen to love green beans, especially when they've been just barely cooked in some boiling water, then sprinkled with something like coarse pepper, or maybe sauteed in a little olive oil. But I'm thinking that my plate of freshly seasoned green beans and William's little tiny jars of green bean-colored mush are only just barely related to each other.

The good news is that I'm probably worrying too much about this. William eats his peas just fine. Sure a lot of them do end up on his face, on his bib, or in the folds of his neck. But each day, more and more seems to end up in his tummy. Sometimes he even reaches for the spoon. And he likes to take a big mouthful and then blow raspberries. David looked down at himself the other night after William gleefully pulled that little stunt and said, "Maybe I should wear a bib, too."

So I'm sure it'll be just fine and before I know it, William will be demanding a Happy Meal from the backseat. We first-time moms apparently like to overthink things. Or maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

William and the Ivy League

David went to Princeton and learned enough to get into medical school. William went to Princeton (for the weekend) and learned to blow raspberries.

Yes, we're back from our trip to David's alma mater for his college singing group's 60th anniversary celebration. The Tigertones were having a weekend-long celebration, and William and I tagged along to get our first taste of Princeton--and to hear David sing with some of his Tigertone buddies.

And wow, it's hard to top Princeton in the fall. The campus was gorgeous, and I walked around gawking at everything. As usual, I took a ton of pictures: David in front of his old dorm, David in front of the sign for his residential college, David and William in the coffee shop in the student center, and so on. When David was off in rehearsals for the alumni concert, which took place on Sunday, William was my sole model, even though he was asleep in his stroller for most of the photos.

Here, we have William, decked out in Princeton gear and taking a snooze in front of Blair Arch, one of the Tigertones' favorite places to gather and sing.

I remarked to David that Princeton just felt so collegiate, which may sound like a weird remark to make about, you know, a college. But it did (just like my own Rhodes does). It was nice to just wander around campus, taking in the sights, grabbing a quick snack in the student center, and trying on sweatshirts in the bookstore. We bought a few Princeton items for me and William. It was pretty chilly, and we decided that William really needed a hat.

Who knows where the young Mr. Wyckoff will eventually matriculate. Maybe he'll follow me off to Rhodes, maybe he'll be a Tigertone at Princeton one day, or maybe he'll blaze a completely new path somewhere else. But I just hope that we can provide for him to attend college wherever he wants. I know that David and I both were so fortunate to have the college experiences that we did--and we owe our parents a lot for giving us those opportunities. So I want to be able to help William go to his own dream school one day, too. But er, it would be really, really helpful if he got a big scholarship, too. (Think it's too early to start those SAT prep courses?)

It was especially nice to see a part of David's life that I've only heard stories about. For years, I've listened to his Tigertones CDs, seen the pictures, heard him tell funny stories about them. I have even met a handful of them, including the ones who attended our wedding. But there's something special about hearing them sing together in person at Princeton.

Now, I'm especially looking forward to going to Memphis next week to attend my own college reunion at my own Gothic-architecture college. And of course, I'm looking forward to introducing William to many of my own friends, like Loretta, Natalie, Jessica, Emoke, Charlene and so on.

By the way, here's the whole family at the Tigertone's 60th reunion banquet on Saturday night. Even William got to attend the banquet, although he went for the more casual attire than his parents did. One of the other Tigertones' wives carried him around the room for awhile and showed him off. I think he enjoyed the attention, little social guy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Seeing SeaWorld

We recently took William to SeaWorld in San Diego. First of all, the park is offering free admission to military members through the end of 2006, and that's an excellent deal, given that each adult ticket normally costs $55. Secondly, I have this weird affinity for sharks, and I'll take advantage any excuse to go see sharks--and there are sharks, lots of 'em, at SeaWorld.

And believe it or not, I think William had a good time at SeaWorld. We didn't try to do too much with him. David carried him into the shark exhibit, and he looked around and smiled at everyone, then watched the sharks swimming around. And we took him to see a dolphin show, and he seemed reasonably interested in that, too. I mean, as interested as a five-month-old can be, anyway. He didn't have a single meltdown, either, so I took that as a good sign.

It was a whole new experience for David and me, too. The last time that either of us went to a theme park was when we went to Disneyland on the day after Thanksgiving in 2002. Our past experiences with theme parks usually involved two things: eating and riding the best rides. Well, once you have a baby, all that changes. The most important things become the location of the restrooms and choosing activities that are suitable for the baby.

Suddenly, you're having to figure out how to navigate your way to this exhibit or that with a loaded-down stroller--oh, and you have to swerve constantly to avoid all the other people driving their loaded-down strollers, too. Then you have to decide whether you care enough about a certain exhibit to take the baby out of his stroller or not and carry him in your arms. Which, by the way, is a big decision when your baby weighs 18 pounds, like William does now. And did theme parks always have designated Stroller Parking areas by all the exhibits and shows, or am I just now noticing because I have a stroller now? It looked like a stroller convention outside the dolphin show that we attended. We waited for most people to leave the bleachers before we left so that we wouldn't have to wait in line to get to our stroller--sort of like waiting for most of the other cars to leave after a ball game ends so that you don't have to just sit in your car in the parking lot. It was nice to have a specific place to leave the stroller, but oh, wouldn't it have been nice to have more places where we could have actually brought the stroller in?

But I think my generation is lucky when it comes to taking our children to theme parks. They may be more expensive now, but most places seem to also be more family-friendly now than I recall them being when I was growing up. In my not-so-humble opinion, the best thing about SeaWorld (other than the sharks, of course) is the existence of nursing rooms. Seriously, that is genius. Scores of mothers everywhere must be grateful for that. I know I am. The nursing rooms were usually located adjacent to the restrooms, and they had glider rockers, nursing stools, and changing facilities, all in a nice little room with a door that closed. I didn't have to drape myself in a blanket while sitting on a bench somewhere and hope that William, in his zeal to eateateat, wouldn't kick the blanket off and expose me. Plus, it was a nice quiet space to feed him where he wouldn't get distracted by all the noise. And I didn't have to fight any crowds to get to a changing table, either. If tickets weren't $55 a pop, I'd say they'd won a loyal customer in me by having such nice facilities.

So, overall, we had a nice time. We only stayed about four hours, which was just about perfect. The other nice thing about getting in for free was that I didn't feel compelled to stay the whole day and "get my money's worth." The whole trip, except for the parking and lunch, was lagniappe. We saw what we wanted to see, and then we hit the road.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Guest columnist

We have a guest columnist today. Today's column is brought to you by a young man who I think really doesn't need an introduction. He has accomplished a great deal in his short but illustrious career, including rolling over, sitting up and taking a sippy cup. He has a great deal of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge (among other things). Ladies and gentleman, I bring you...William Wyckoff.

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He's not big on vowels, is he? But I guess he clearly had a lot to say. He's been watching me type and lately, he has started leaning forward, reaching longingly toward the keyboard. It is his blog, after all, so I would never censor or edit what he wrote. Or maybe it is true that everyone really does have a book in them. But I will leave it to the rest of you to interpret what he actually did write.

By the way, here's a photo of what I saw when I walked into William's room yesterday to get him up from his afternoon nap.

Don't worry. I don't actually let the cats sleep in his crib with him. We're usually very diligent about getting the cats out of the baby's room before shutting the door. I had just neglected to pull the door completely shut yesterday while he was napping; I figured I could hear him better that way since the monitor needs new batteries and I keep forgetting to replace them.

I heard William start "talking" and playing with his crib aquarium and figured it was time to go see what was up. So five or ten minutes later, I wrapped up what I was doing (working on a freelance assignment in the computer room next to the nursery) and wandered in to get William. There he was, smiling up at me, with the kitty cat at his feet. Apparently his nattering didn't bother Corky in the slightest. I did laugh, then snap a quick photo, then scolded her for getting in the baby's bed (she knows better). Can you believe the cat jumped up into his crib with him? She hasn't done that in ages, not since he was pretty small. I'm not worried that Corky is going to hurt William; she's actually very gentle with him, as is Smokey. But still, the cats don't need to be sleeping in the crib with the baby, you know? I certainly will make sure to keep better tabs on the kitties from now on. But I still think it was funny....

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Progress on the sippy cup front

We have made significant progress on the sippy cup front since the last time I wrote about it. Thank goodness!

As you know, William is not a big fan of the bottle. Why drink out of a bottle, when he can get the good stuff fresh from Mom? But seeing as how that's not always convenient for Mom, we decided to take drastic measures. As part of Bottle Boot Camp, he's learning to stop worrying and love the sippy cup instead.

And miracle of miracles, it seems to be working. Every night, he gets rice cereal and a sippy cup, so I guess he's finally getting used to it. Last night, he happily drank two ounces of breastmilk from his sippy cup--and he even tried to hold it himself, like a big boy. David was so proud that I thought he was going to pop.

Last night, after we cleaned all the rice cereal off our son and rinsed out the sippy cup, David and I congratulated ourself on our progress--and renewed our commitment to stick with it, even if William regresses some over the next few weeks.

"I feel so relieved, so relieved that I can finally feed him again," David said.

That's been a big part of this for David. He used to love cuddling William and giving him a bottle. William would gaze up at his daddy's face with such trust that it would bring tears to your eyes to watch them. But since William started rejecting the bottle, David's attempts to feed him have done nothing but make them both miserable. William cried, David looked grim. It was an exercise in futility. So not only do I look forward to being able to leave William with his daddy for a few hours so I can attend book club and spouses' club meetings, but now David can again enjoy that special type of bonding with his son.

Also, by feeding William, David now knows exactly how dirty William is and where he needs to wash at bathttime. Which is very useful knowledge. Let's just say that William takes after his mommy when it comes to being a messy eater.

It seems like consistency is the key. I read somewhere that babies respond very well to consistency, and that's why nighttime routines and regular naps are so important. The babies know what to expect because of the routine. We plan to continue giving William a sippy cup each evening because he's going to start drinking water and juice and formula out of one eventually anyway (in addition to nursing), so we might as well get that established. And if he prefers the sippy cup to a bottle, well, that's fine with me. It's one less thing that we'll have to wean him from, plus sippy cups can go right in the top rack of the dishwasher for cleaning.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Let's roll...

Look who rolled over tonight!

That's right. William rolled from his back over to his stomach this evening while he was playing on his activity mat after dinner. He did it!

The funny thing is, he seems to be hitting a couple of developmental milestones in an unexpected order. He has been sitting up, sort of in a tripod position, for a couple of weeks now, and to me, that seems much more advanced. We've been joking that he can sit up, but he can't roll over. Of course, I've always added that I think he can roll over, but he just chooses not to. (Or perhaps, to paraphrase Barteleby the Scrivener, he preferred not to.)

I guess tonight William chose to roll over at last. He didn't roll over tonight in one smooth quick motion, but he made it from his back to his tummy without any adult intervention, so in my book, that counts. He actually stayed on his side for awhile, playing with the toys that hang from the arches. (He's been doing that a lot lately.) Accustomed to seeing him in that position, I left the living room and went back to his room. When I came back, he was three-quarters of the way onto his stomach. And then he hung out like that for a little while. Then he made it all the way over. I ran for the camera, and David applauded.

Way to go, William!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bottle Boot Camp

When William was brand new, my friends Phuong and Joanna counseled me to introduce him to the bottle as soon as possible. Don't wait too long, they advised, or he might not want to take one when you need him to. Both of them reminded me each time they talked to me. Have you started the bottle yet? one would ask. Don't wait too long, the other warned.

Knowing that neither of them throw around advice without good reason (a wonderful quality to have, by the way), I listened. David and I diligently offered bottles of tepid breastmilk to William, beginning when he was about three weeks old. He eagerly took them. (I have posted the pictures here on this very blog to prove it.) We branched out, even serving him the occasional bottle of Similac. Again, no problem. In fact, that saved my sanity a few times, most notably during a couple of evenings when William nursed non-stop and showed no signs of ever stopping. David gave him a few ounces, and I sagged backward in relief, taking a much-needed break. And a shower.

We congratulated ourselves, patted ourselves on the back. Then we stopped being so diligent, and we got out of the bottle habit. Unfortunately, that meant that William got out of the bottle habit, too. As we developed a much more normal nursing routine, William and I got used to more regular nursing sessions, spaced out through the day and evening. I didn't fret as much about "running out of milk" in the evening, so we stopped turning to the occasional bottle before bedtime. So maybe it shouldn't have been a huge shock when David tried to give a bottle to William while we were in Holden Beach and William turned his nose up at it. At first, we worried that he disliked the flavor of the powdered formula (it did look pretty chalky to me). But when we got home and cracked open a can of premixed formula, he did the same thing. And he even rejected breastmilk in a bottle, much to my dismay. Last week, David gamely tried to give William a bottle of breastmilk while I attended a meeting of my spouses' group. William wasn't buying it. He wouldn't take formula either. David pressed on, but William grew more and more hysterical, the longer David tried. When I finally arrived home, David thrust William at me, and William fell on me like a starving man who has just walked into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Needless to say, I despaired. I need to be able to leave William for a few hours with his daddy, or even with a sitter sometimes. But if he won't take a bottle, how can I do that? He gets crazy? It's not that I'm worried he'll starve to death--we've all seen the sweet little chubby body of his--but I am worried that he'll drive his caregiver into an early grave with his increasingly frantic crying. But how am I supposed to go to the dentist or get my hair cut?

I began emailing friends with babies, asking Mom, talking to women whom I've met through the hospital or the spouses' group, posting questions on an Internet bulletin board that I frequent. What do I do now, I asked. Some of their suggestions: try a sippy cup, try a different type of nipple, try a new bottle, try this type of sippy cup, try that kind of bottle, heat up the milk or formula, try offering the bottle to him when he's really hungry, try offering the bottle to him when he's eaten recently, try feeding him in a different location, etc. etc. Bewildered but willing to try almost anything, I hit Target, Wal-Mart and the commissary on base and began buying up every kind of sippy cup and bottle that I could find that seemed to target babies of William's age. I snapped up three different types of Nuby sippy cup because that was the brand most frequently recommended. I bought three different types of formula, and I began trying to pump more milk more often. Some parents told me to stick with it, to keep offering it to him and to not give up, so I steeled myself for what was to come.

So now we're doing Bottle Boot Camp here at Chez Larson-Wyckoff this week. And maybe next week. And maybe even the week after that. There is no uniform, unless you count the bib, and there are no drill instructors, but there is an obstacle course, namely William's mouth and tongue. And his willingness to try new things.

Here's how Bottle Boot Camp works. Each evening, David gives William a bottle or sippy cup (or both) of breastmilk. The first evening or two, this did not go so well. Mostly, both of them ended up frustrated and exhausted. So we started experimenting. We've discovered that we're having better luck when David offers it to William in between feedings, after he's eaten his rice cereal but is still sitting in his high chair. William cried angrily if he was positioned like he was going to nurse and then didn't get to nurse, so we're temporarily scrapping that. But he doesn't seem to mind as much if he's sitting upright, like a big boy. We've gone through about one third of our new repertoire of baby liquid-delivery devices. It appears that William prefers a soft-spouted Nuby sippy cup that resembles a bottle. He began to sort of gnaw on it--but in a cheerful way--when David offered it to him a couple of nights ago. We held our breath, waiting for him to get mad, but he didn't. He didn't seem to actually take in that much milk, but more importantly, he wasn't turning red with anger. My spirits beginning to rise, I scrubbed that puppy out and got it ready to use the next night.

And tonight, William actually drank about an ounce of milk from that little red Nuby sippy cup. David crowed excitedly that William was drinking, he was really drinking out it!

Now. I know that it's going to be a back-and-forth process, with all likelihood. But maybe we've taken a definite step toward progress. It's a hassle for me to stagger into the kitchen at 6 a.m. or so to pump, in order to store up some milk for William to play with each evening. But if it will get him to take a bottle or sippy cup and free me up when I need some time without him, I'm game. Maybe eventually he'll take some formula again, too. I'm actually really proud of William. He's doing pretty well, considering that we just started him on rice cereal, too. Maybe he figures that the sippy cup comes along with that small dish of runny stuff that Daddy keeps trying to coax him to eat.

So, wish us luck.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Risking your life to bring home a toy

Breaking news: A man in Tampa, Florida, apparently threatened another man's life in a Target store this past week. Why? Because the second man had just snagged the last Tickle Me Elmo Extreme doll off the shelf, and the first man was just that desperate to get one of them, too. There was a scuffle, and someone had to call 911. And there are still three more months until Christmas!

Did you get that? A grown man threatened another grown man because he didn't get a Tickle Me Elmo toy. The death threat would have made a lot more sense to me if say, the second man had tied up the first man and forced him to listen to TME's ear-splitting, sinus-shredding laughter. But no. The criminal-in-the-making tried to harm someone because the other man beat him to the shelf where the dolls were (all too briefly) stocked for sale. He could have cursed at him, yelled at him, tackled him, all sorts of possibilities. But he threatened the other man's life because he didn't get a red toy with an electronic laugh that could wake the dead!

This is the ten-year anniversary of the release of the sinister fuzzy red toy. So the current incarnation is an "Extreme" version that actually flings itself about in a sick mockery of the Hokey Pokey, all the while laughing and laughing and laughing. And some parents are so eager to take this thing home with them that they'll do just about anything? Geez. I would think it would be the other way around: parents should be threatening anyone who brings such a toy into their homes and lives.

So I'll issue this plea right now. Please, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, please do not risk your life and limb for an Elmo toy. At least not for us. If you know other people who have an affinity for the little demon, then by all means, go right ahead, but don't say I didn't warn you. We are going to keep our house as Elmo-free as possible for as long as possible. I already have to skip the songs that feature Elmo on our Sesame Street CDs to preserve what's left of my sanity. David and I are crazy enough without Elmo in our house.

Apparently, the desperate toy-grab is a rite of passage for all parents. I remember how, when I was little, Mom had to fight the crowds to buy Strawberry Shortcake dolls for me. She says she remembers just closing her eyes and thrusting her arm into the midst of a crowd of eager parents and grabbing the first box that she could reach and hoping for the best. Other parents did the same grab-and-hope maneuver when it came to Cabbage Patch Kids, maybe a year or so later. I'm sure that David's mom has some similar tales. I know that my own day is coming, for some toy that William will dream about and talk about and hope for.

But right now, almost all toys are pretty fun for William. He wouldn't know Tickle Me Elmo from a hole in the ground. No pressure on us to procure one without risking our lives, and no pressure to actually have to live with one in the house. Thank God. I think if we had one, I'd have to lock my bedroom door at night to guard against the possibility that the thing would rise up in the middle of the night and invade our room, in an attempt to kill us with his lethal "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

See how happy William is with his own toys anyway?