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.