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 NurseZone.com, 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 gruel....er, 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.