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?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rice cereal it is!

The little prince is growing up. William got his first official taste of solid food tonight. Well, I say solid food, but only in the loosest sense: he got a mouthful of very runny rice cereal as his entre into the world of food.

I dressed him up in a new bib, and David put him in the high chair. Then I attempted to mix up a small bowl of rice cereal. Rice cereal, for those of you who've never bought the stuff, comes in a box, and you pour the flakes out of a little spout in the side. The box gives you only the vaguest directions about mixing it up with water, formula or breast milk, although it does give more specific instructions for "baby's first experience." It recommended mixing one tablespoon of cereal with four to five tablespoons of liquid. So I heated up some bottled water, and I mixed some breastmilk and some water with the one tablespoon of cereal. It turned out to be so thin and runny that I didn't think it would even stay on a spoon long enough to get into William's mouth. So I played mad scientist and mixed a little more cereal here, a lot more cereal there, a little more water there, and so on. I had no idea if I was doing it right or not. They should be more specific, really. Okay, I admit it. It looked like gruel. I fed my child gruel.

David said it was okay that it was runny, and he's the doctor, so we went from there.

It was time for William to try it out. He was pretty game. He didn't cry, although he did make some really spectacular faces. I offered the little purple spoon, and he opened his little red mouth like a baby bird and gingerly accepted it. He gummed it with a dubious expression for a few seconds, his mouth wide in a "oooh, I don't know what this is, and I'm not sure I like it" expression, as runny cereal oozed back out onto his lips. I scooped up a little more rice cereal and tried again.

Granted, most of the gruel rolled back out of his mouth onto his chin, and from there onto his bib. But I fantasize that at least a little bit made it down his gullet into his tummy.

All in all, I think it was a pretty decent introduction.But I imagined him thinking, "This? This is what I've been waiting for?"

I reassured William that there was much better tasting food to look forward to. I mean, think about it. When we don't like some type of food, we know that there are other things out there to eat. Just because that cafeteria-style turkey tetrazini is awful doesn't mean that some luscious barbecued ribs don't lurk around the corner. Or if something is bland and runny, we can add sugar or salt and kick it up a notch (or ten). Or ignore a particularly offensive food altogether. Poor little William thinks this is it. Runny lukewarm bland rice cereal IS food, as far as he's concerned. He doesn't know about sweet potatoes, or chocolate, or ice cream or blueberries or anything like that yet. I think I'm going to feel guilty about this until I can feed him something that actually tastes good.

So, anyway. Happy Five Month Birthday, Butterbean! I hope that the rice cereal wasn't too bad. I'll try and improve at least the consistency next time. And I promise there are so many more good things to come.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Here's a quick shot of William, pretending like he's going to roll over.

Please note that he is twisting backwards to look at his buddy. You know. The Baby in the Mirror. I wonder when The Baby in the Mirror will roll oer, too...

Is this it? Is he going to roll over? Is he??? Nope.

So close. So, so close.

William is thisclose to rolling over. Really. Thisclose. So, so close. And far.

David and I put him down on his tummy on either a blanket or his activity mat to encourage him to roll over. Sometimes we just leave him alone to see what he'll do. Sometimes we actively work with him, gently helping him roll over to understand what he could be doing.

He manages to roll neatly over onto his side, with his top leg even thrown over his bottom leg. When I see this, I hold my breath. Oh, is this it? Should I dash for the camera? He hangs in mid-air and then...nope. He flips back onto his back. If he sees me looking at him, he gives me a huge smile. Such a tease.

He's been teasing me like this for about three weeks now. David says that he'll roll over eventually, when he's ready. Also, we're speculating that it's harder for him to make it all the way over because he's fairly broad and sturdy (nice euphemism, eh?). And yes, I know that one day, I'm going to turn around and then turn back to find that he's rolled right over.

Know that's sort of funny, though? He won't roll over, but he manages a very early version of combat crawling. If I put him down on his tummy, he will manage to turn himself completely around and sort of drag himself around on his blanket. He can't go very far--or very fast--but he definitely can move around. You'd think that'd be harder to do than rolling over.

Anyway. Another day, another chance.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Page 9

Isn't it funny how some things that were considered totally normal 20 or 30 years ago are now considered completely strange, even in some cases beyond the pale?

For example, everyone will tell you now that you are taking your child's life into your very hands if you put your baby down to sleep on his or her tummy. Granted, the "Back to Sleep" recommendation is espoused by the American Academy of Pediatrics for a very good reason, one backed up by solid evidence that it reduces the likelihood of SIDS. It seems totally normal to me to put William on his back when I put him down in his crib, but my mom remembers putting me on my stomach to sleep when I was a baby.

Here's my latest discovery on how things have changed.

So I'm reading "Curious George Visits the Zoo" to William the other day. I'm reading merrily along about how George goes to the zoo with the man in the yellow hat so he can see real elephants and tigers (never mind the weirdness that a monkey is visiting OTHER MONKEYS in a cage at the zoo, while he roams free and unfettered, and would people visit other people if they were in cages?), and I come to page 9. On page 9, a family eats a picnic lunch, seated on a blanket on a grassy patch of lawn. I suddenly peer more closely at the page. Is that father...smoking a cigarette? In a children's book? Surely not. Maybe that's a, uh,, he's smoking a cigarette. There's nothing else it could be. Who puts a picture of a man smoking in a kid's book, I thought. What kind of example is that? Aren't kids books usually supposed to teach lessons or at least impart something worth knowing, or at the very least, be entertaining without being harmful?

Then I remembered. This is not a new book. This book's been around for at least 20 years, and probably even longer than that. It wouldn't have seemed nearly as strange, a generation or two ago, to include a picture of someone smoking. Plus, I've lived in California for the last five years, and California has really strict laws about where you can and can't smoke. So I've gotten used to rarely seeing people smoke, since no one is allowed to smoke in restaurants or public buildings.

So, a generation ago, a mom reading the book might have skipped on by the picture on page 9 without giving it even a moment's thought. Meanwhile, I actually interrupted myself to study the picture and the wonder out loud about whether it's appropriate or not. Not that I really think that a silly illustration is going to compel a kid to light up. It's not even that noticeable. No one (but me, apparently) lingers over the pictures of the random anonymous family, anyway; you're reading the book to find out what wacky predicament Curious George is going to find himself in, but you know what I mean.

I wonder what will seem totally outrageous or incredible when William is a parent one day?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Teddy Bear William

Check out Teddy Bear William!

I've realized that many of the activities for parents and babies and/or small children that I used to think were kind of silly aren't really for the children. They're excuses for the parents to get together and receive some much-needed interaction with other adults, while providing at least a nominal bit of entertainment for the kiddies.

Take an activity that many libraries host each year, the Teddy Bear Picnic. Ostensibly, it's a teddy-bear themed story hour with a few extra perks thrown in. It's a picnic where the kids bring their teddy bears from home, and they listen to stories about teddy bears and sing songs about teddy bears and make teddy bear puppets or art collages and eat teddy bear snacks (Teddy Grahams anyone?). It's the sort of thing that would make the pre-baby Jennifer roll her eyes a bit. I can remember myself thinking that I probably wouldn't be the type of mom to do that sort of thing. It sounded sort of silly. The sort of thing that stay-at-home moms do. The sort of thing that people with minivans and scrapbooks do. The sort of thing that people who never read books or newspapers or have coherent thoughts on world events do.

However, Jennifer the Mom loves this sort of thing now. I may not drive a minivan or have a full-to-bursting scrapbook, but I don't roll my eyes anymore. Why? It's a good excuse to get out of the house. It breaks up the day. It gives William the chance to see other people and watch the other babies playing, which he really enjoys. He gets to hear stories and songs, and I don't have to be the one providing the entertainment. I get to talk to other adults. And I get to eat Teddy Grahams if I want to. And it gives William and me the chance to have a little bit of new fun together.

Maybe I'll never love that sort of thing as much as I love hearing an author speak at a local bookstore, but I've learned to not discount chances to interact with other people who are going through the same things that I have...or have had similar experiences in the past and can understand my current stage of life. Those parents are not rote stereotypes, just like I'm not. If I'm at the Teddy Bears Picnic, and I read the newspaper every day and go hear John Dean speak at a local bookstore and have an opinion on the recent declassification of Pluto as a planet, well, doesn't it follow that the other people might have more in common with me than I might have originally thought? Maybe. I don't know yet. But I do know that sometimes, when your baby has kept you awake all night long because he's not feeling well, you don't need to discuss the Pope's recent controversial remarks about Islam. All you really need is another adult to smile and ask you, "How's it going?"

So I've learned that you can have different kinds of fun IF you have an open mind about it. If you go into an occasion, dead set that you're going to be miserable, well, you probably will be. But if you're willing to be surprised, well, you might just enjoy yourself. That's been a big lesson for me.

And I've learned that William and I really do have fun together when we do stuff like the Teddy Bears Picnic. And right now, that's good enough for me. Plus, could he be any cuter in his little teddy bear ears?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Baby in the Mirror

William has discovered a new friend: the Baby in the Mirror.

About a week or so ago, I was sitting on the bed, nursing William. He started arching his back, like he does when he pretends like he's going to roll over, and I noticed that he was craning his head backwards. I followed the line of his gaze, and sure enough, he was looking at his own reflection in the larger mirrored closet doors. He dove back into nursing, but after a few seconds, he had to tilt his head backwards again to see if the Baby in the Mirror was still there. He did this several times, giggling each time.

When we were in San Diego last weekend, I nursed William on the sofa in our hotel room each night before bed. He began twisting around in my arms, and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. Then it hit me: he was looking for the Baby in the Mirror! But with no mirror around, William couldn't find him, and it confused him. Where was the Baby in the Mirror? He always eats when William eats. What had happened to him? Was he okay? Was he going hungry.

Poor little guy, so worried about his friend. David and I, mean parents that we are, were very tickled by this.

So now we have regular visits with the Baby in the Mirror so that William will know his buddy is doing okay. William especially likes to visit with his new friend first thing in the morning, right after he wakes up. We sing the "who's that baby in the mirror?" song, while William smiles at his reflection. (I'm no Cole Porter, so it's a pretty simple set of lyrics. I don't think I need to copyright them or anything.) Sometimes, he gets shy, and he buries his head in my chest before peeking out to see if the Baby in the Mirror is still there. William also seems to like the Baby in the Mirror's mommy because he smiles a lot at her. The Baby in the Mirror's Mommy looks just like William's Mommy. Sometimes, he reaches out and touches the mirror, trying to touch the baby or his mommy. He doesn't yet understand why he can't reach an actual person, but he doesn't seem to mind.

He always looks for the Baby in the Mirror when he's nursing now. It makes nursing sessions take a little bit longer, as he interrupts his own meal to make sure that the Baby in the Mirror is eating, too. Nurse, nurse, nurse, crane head, smile, admire smile, nurse, nurse, nurse.

And it's especially fun to watch William when he realizes that, hey! The Baby in the Mirror came with us to Target! The Baby in the Mirror gets his diaper changed in the ladies' restroom at Barnes & Noble, too! The Baby in the Mirror does all the same stuff that William does!

I know that one day, William will learn that the Baby in the Mirror isn't actually a person. He will come to realize that the Baby in the Mirror is just his own reflection, that the Mommy in the Mirror is just my reflection, that it's really just the two of us, hanging out in William's room or the dressing room or wherever. He will tire of making eyes at the Baby in the Mirror, preferring to play with his toys. We'll stop visiting the Baby in the Mirror each morning, and maybe I'll even forget the lyrics to the Baby's song. William will be more enthralled with other things, with toys and household items less elusive than a smile in the mirror.

But that day is still in the future. And so, in the meantime, I plan to enjoy these days. These days, the days when William is still entranced by the sight of a face that looks just like his own, so near, and yet always so unreachable.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Escape from the desert

We just got home from a weekend jaunt to San Diego. Could the weather have been any more glorious, she asks rhetorically.

It was beautiful. Crystal clear blue skies, a light breeze, the perfect temperature. The air was just ever so slightly damp, just barely resting on your skin, a huge relief after the dry desert air that leaches all the moisture out of your body. It made you want to kiss your fingertips and throw them into the air. David and I kept remarking on how William's round cheeks were so much smoother and softer in the damper air, which just gave us an extra excuse to cover them with kisses.

We drove over to Coronado on Saturday afternoon and ate ice cream on the veranda at the Hotel del Coronado. Then we took William for a stroll along the boardwalk and looked at the waves. This morning, we went to the Pacifica Breeze Cafe up in Del Mar for brunch, then walked down the street to the park overlooking the ocean. I pointed out to William all the surfers, lounging with their longboards, hoping for an occasional wave to ruffle the glassy surface of the turquoise water. And we talked about how the Pacific Ocean is much colder in San Diego than the Atlantic Ocean was in Holden Beach. I'm not sure William remembers sticking his feet in the Atlantic, but we wisely decided that we're going to wait to give him a full-fledged introduction to the chilly Pacific.

It was such a propaganda-type weekend. Having lived in San Diego for two years in the past, I know that you get maybe a couple dozen such days every year. The rest of the time, it's usually too cool for me to want to put on a bathing suit and go swimming (brrrr!). Then there's the infernal marine layer, which seems nearly omnipresent at the coast. But not this weekend. It was the sort of weekend that makes people want to throw caution and reason to the wind and buy a million dollar shack and live in San Diego. Glorious, glorious, glorious. Did I mention that it was glorious?

I think William had a good time, too. He seemed cheerful most of the time. He got a makeshift high chair in which to sit when we went out to eat sushi with Kristin. He got to check out all sorts of interesting tourists at the Hotel Del. He even slept through the night both nights, even in an unfamiliar Pack n Play. The only thing that wasn't quite up to his standards were the Miramar Inn's bathing accommodations for small people.

Oh well. You can't have everything.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Random anecdotes

Here's a nice shot of my boys, faithful members of Red Sox Nation. Er, given the recent swoon by the team, make that depressed members of Red Sox Nation. But they're still true to their team, for better or for worse. However, David's just glad that his son has finally grown into his baby Red Sox baseball cap at last.

I thought I'd post some random anecdotes about William that don't have any overarching theme---other than being about William, of course--just to capture what sort of things he's been doing lately. So, without further ado...

The other night, we put William to bed at his usual time. David carried the baby monitor handset out to the living room and turned it on. We started hearing a really weird sound coming from the speaker. Normally, we can hear his music box playing softly in the background, and occasionally, we can hear him grunt or mutter. But this, this was a weird and rather loud unidentifiable sound. Baffled, we just wondered what on earth William was doing that could make such a sound, until David figured it out. "He's hitting those little roller bar wheel things on his aquarium set," he said. Sure enough, that's what he was doing: spinning the little wheels on the bottom of the Ocean Wonders aquarium crib entertainment set that's attached to the crib rails. I guess he wasn't sleepy, so he was finding new ways to entertain himself!

Another anecdote, without much of a point: we bought a high chair for William.

He's not eating solid food yet, but he will start rice cereal pretty soon, so we thought it might be good for him to get accustomed to his new seat first. So at dinnertime, David puts him in the high chair and pulls it up to the table while we eat our dinner. The first time William sat in the high chair, I was amazed by how (don't laugh) grown up he looked, sitting upright like that, looking at us. So far, William doesn't seem to mind the high chair, although you can tell that he doesn't quite understand why he's sitting in it. There are no toys, no lights; it doesn't move or bounce or jiggle. He just...sits there, with sort of a quizzical look on his face. That's even after I handed him his ducky toy and a set of links. But he'll get the point soon enough. We're going to introduce rice cereal around his five-month birthday later this month. That should be an adventure. Good thing that we bought a camcorder.

We've already videotaped one of my absolute favorite things that William does. I've written about his experiences on his activity mat, from the days when he would just lie there to the days when he discovered that, hey, he can touch those toys hanging from the arches. Well, he's a seasoned activity mat veteran now. When I put him down on the mat, he goes for the toys with all four limbs--with great, great enthusiasm. He's churning his arms and legs, and there are bells jingling and toys clanging all over the place, and the activity mat's twin arches shake like there's been an earthquake. David compared the sight (and sound) to a drummer in a 80s rock band at the height of his drum solo. Seriously. Bon Jovi, Van Halen, meet William Wyckoff.

I also captured David and William's little pre-bath bonding routine on camera. Each evening, around 8:15, William begins to fuss. It's his little way of saying, "Okay. I'm done." That's David's cue to whisk him off to the nursery and begin to get him ready for his bath. I, of course, am attemping the nearly impossible task of getting the bathwater to be precisely the right temperature to satisfy the demands of the men of the house. But while I'm agonizing over the bathwater, dipping my hand in the little plastic tub and consulting the Oracle of Rubber Ducky, David and William are having a grand old time laughing at each other. While David undresses William on the changing table, the baby always begins smiling and giggling, like he knows it's nearly bathtime and he can't wait. So David begins to grin back at him. Then William laughs a little harder, and David laughs back at him. They laugh and laugh, louder and louder, at each other, until inevitably, William gets the hiccups. As David carries William into the bathroom, William is still giggling in between hiccups. Laugh, hic! Laugh, hic! Laugh, hic! It reverberates around the bathroom. Then, William gets down to the more serious business of splashing Daddy.

See, I think that's one of the reasons that parents put up with sleepless nights. Because what is funnier than a baby laughing?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

William's new ride

Hey, check out William in his new ride!

This is the new stroller that we just bought. It's a Peg Perego Pliko. Try saying that three times, really fast.

David put it together this morning, and he took William for a spin around the kitchen. Thank God that David can assemble things. I've already expounded on two of the great lessons that I have learned so far--that new parents have to carry around a lot more stuff and that babies are always changing so you can't get too accustomed to anything. The third great lesson in parenthood, I think, is that everywhere you turn, for better or for worse, you're going to encounter this warning: some assembly required. Or lots and lots of assembly required. But as far as assembly goes, the Pliko seemed relatively painless, unlike the crib, which took forever to assemble. But then again, what do I know? I was hanging out with William in the nursery while David was studying the stroller manual out in the living room this morning. But I think it turned out nicely.

We hope he's going to like it. It's pretty padded, so he should be pretty comfy. Now I just have to learn how to open and close the thing.

And just because I'm all excited that I can post photographs again, here are a few more recent shots of the little prince...

He really does smile a lot. It just seems like he gets all serious when I pull out the camera. I guess he wants to try to preserve some sense of gravitas for posterity. Which, I suppose, is probably hard enough to do when you're sitting in a molded rubber chair.