Maisie Goes To New York And Wears A Feather

Wednesday

We arrived in New York, picked up the rental car, drove to Uncle Steve’s, found a parking spot directly in front of Uncle Steve and Aunt Kiwi’s, gave thanks, and got Maisie into full-on New York City mode.

Maisie contemplating pulling on Uncle Steve's beard to see if it's real

Thursday

STORM KING.  Maisie’s first encounter with modern art was much like any other person’s first encounter with modern art.  A lot of crying, burying of the head and open-mouthed looks of incomprehensibility.   However Maisie did recognize the pieces with true meaning by the real artistes, and was not hoodwinked by the other pieces that were passed off as art but were actually giant pieces of sheet metal left behind by the construction crew.

Friday

HUDSON.   We went out for a walk in the town of Hudson.  It was a nice walk through the quaint business district–past restaurants, shops, galleries…you know, the places we used to go before the Little Shouting Crying Machine Of Destruction And Public Mayhem came into our lives.  Midway though the walk, your typical Hudson Valley Autumn Thunderstorm hit, and we ducked into a Toy Store for cover.  For about 15 minutes, we walked around looking at midget Lucha Libre Baby Jackets (next purchase), then went on into the back playroom so Maisie could wreak some mayhem on a Kid Kraft Prairie Tea Set.

Finally a break came  in between thunderstorms, and we had a choice.

  1. Get Maisie back to the hotel before the next Thunderstorm hit.
  2. Go find alcohol

We picked 2. and, of course, got caught in the rain on the way back.  It was Maisie’s first time getting completely soaked in a rainstorm, but she seemed to love every part of it.   She smiled, she laughed, she pointed over to me as if to say, “that is my father, and I love him even if he is drinking a large can of beer in a paper bag.”

"Next time, you two can walk in the rain. I'm calling a taxi."

Saturday

MAISIE’S FIRST WEDDING was very eventful and gay.  Maisie dressed up in a red velvet dress with a black type of shawl thing (I’m sure shawl thing isn’t the right word, but it’s all I got), socks and little black shoes.  Everyone talked to her, smiled at her, she smiled back. She danced with her mom, her dad, friends and a half dozen other people.  She had her picture taken by three different photographers, and I think actually posed for a couple of them.  She cuddled up to Martin and Eric (the two good friends that married), did not cry during the ceremony, did not destroy the tent, slept for a good part of the reception, and didn’t make any distasteful comments about the table centerpieces like that other seven-month old, little Claude.  In fact everything was going swimmingly until John Roleke fell off the dance floor, hit his head on the ground and had to be carted off by ambulance.

Maisie reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West

And her role as Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

Monday

QUEENS.  Maisie met her other uncle and aunt…Dan and Jen.  Dan is Aimee’s other brother who did (and may still do) some professional wrestling out on Long Island–that alone is enough to put him at the top of my list, but on top of that he’s also a good guy.  Jen, on the other hand, does not do any professional wrestling in Long Island or anywhere else but is still at the top of my list because she’s cool and stayed over at our house for a week and said nothing about the mold in my shower.  Their dog Lucy is also at the top of my list because she’s an English Bulldog and drools and farts as much as Maisie does.

OK, the other thing I forgot to mention is Dan also loves kids and Maisie loves wrestlers from Long Island, so it was one of those mutual love at first sight things.  Things got a little rambunctious of course, especially with Lucy, but Dan’s got a horn that he blows when Lucy gets too playful.  Unfortunately he failed to let me know that it was actually a safety air horn, which means it can be heard five blocks away when blown.  Of if you’re indoors, goodbye eardrum.

Dan performing a Tilt-a-Whirl Crossbody on Maisie

Tuesday

PLANE. Uh oh, after bragging to everyone sitting around us that my kid was a “veteran flyer” and “didn’t hardly make a peep coming out here,” Maisie spent the first hour and a half of the flight yelling at the top of her lungs, throwing water bottles, jumping on the seats and banging on the TV screen attached to the backrest.  She’s asleep now…a peaceful little angel…but you can just see ideas forming in her head of what other things she can hurl into Rows 37-41.

Finally

My original plan was to keep this blog updated on a weekly basis.  Ha. I also had planned to keep the basement clean and get ten hours of sleep a night.  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.  Saturday is the day I figured I could catch up on all that writing, cleaning and sleeping.  This is what I did last Saturday.

  1. Cleanup baby food glop off baby
  2. Pretend to throw baby in air
  3. Wash bottle
  4. Take off baby pajamas, put on clothes
  5. Take off clothes, change diaper
  6. Incinerate diaper and clothes
  7. Work for 2.5 minutes
  8. Show baby how to work building blocks
  9. Convince baby that napping during the day is something that all babies do
  10. Work for 1.7 minutes
  11. Pound some nails into the floor so baby won’t catch pajamas on them
  12. Take half-eaten power bill out of baby’s mouth
  13. Put baby in car seat
  14. Drive around just long enough for baby to fall asleep
  15. Take baby out of car seat and jar her just enough to wake her up and can start crying again.
  16. Try and feed her.
  17. Repeat 1-16

 

Today, New York. Tomorrow, The World. The Next Day, Fresno.

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The Last Two And A Half Months In Ten Minutes Or Less


August 1

Maisie’s diet is ever expanding.  She’s tried sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pears, and applesauce, and amazingly enough some of it does end up in her mouth instead of her chin or my forehead.  We think she likes applesauce the best because that’s what she spits out the least.  But like every parent, I’ve learned that feeding is about 15% actual feeding and 85% wiping residual food from the chin and trying to get it back into the mouth.

OTHER FLAVORS OF BABY FOOD THAT BEECH NUT NEEDS TO OFFER.

  • Fresh canned peas
  • Pepperoni and sausage pizza
  • Whirled Milk Duds
  • Ground Up Happy Meal
  • Poi

August 4

UPDATES

  1. POOP UPDATE.  Everybody has told us how the whole diaper situation gets about 100 times worse once the baby starts eating real food.  I’m here to report that this assumption is correct as witnessed by the poop that somehow made it to the wall yesterday.
  2. SIPPEE CUP UPDATE:  Maisie is now actively using the sippee cup and has discovered its two main functions 1) to get water to the mouth without spilling, 2) to throw across the table at anything breakable.
  3. TOYS SCATTERED AROUND THE HOUSE UPDATE:  It is safe to say the house will be clean again sometime around the year 2028.

August 7

MORE BABY LOGIC

  1. I don’t want to pull the blanket up over my head because it scares me, therefore
  2. I will pull the blanket up over my head

GORDITOS.  Maisie and I went to eat at one of my five favorite burrito joints today–Gordito’s, “Where the burritos are bigger than newborns and there are pictures posted on the wall to prove it.”  Maisie and I were sitting quietly in a corner, at the table next to us were a mom, dad and a five year boy .  All three were eating when Junior announced that he wanted to eat like a dog.

His parents said no, he couldn’t eat like a dog.  Junior began to cry because this news from his parents obviously didn’t fit into his plans to eat like a dog.

So he moved over to a nearby empty table thinking this might be an eating-like-a-dog safe zone, but no such luck.   Mom and Dad made him return to their table and Junior reluctantly ate a few more bites with a knife and a fork.

Then he eyed us.

Junior had decided that Maisie and I looked like eat-like-a-dog advocates and moved over to our table.   And so he came over and stood, said nothing, did nothing, just stood like some graduate of Village Of The Damned Preschool.   Thankfully his parents called him back to their table, and he left without saying a word.

“You are not growing up to be like that,” I told Maisie.

She nodded.

Junior

August 11

THE STORY OF SWEATY HANS (as told to Maisie two nights ago)

Once upon a time in some Norwegian Country like Sweden, Denmark or Poland, there was a little boy named Hans.  Hans was a nice kid…went to school, came home, did his chores, ate dinner and went to bed.  Pretty normal, except there was one thing for which Hans was known far and wide.  He sweated like there was no tomorrow.  And he didn’t use deodorant.  So I guess that’s two things he was famous for. So one day Sweaty Hans was chopping wood with his favorite ax, when a big giant from Finland walked up.

“I’m going to destroy your village,” the giant told Hans.

“Not if I can help it,” Hans answered back, then lifted the axe up to strike the giant.  Unfortunately when Hans lifted the axe handle, his hands were so sweaty that the ax flew backwards out of his hands and hit Old Haggard Lady Myrtle in the head.

“Oops,” said Hans.

Hans then picked up a chainsaw and had planned to fling that at the giant but instead he hit the telephone line behind him and cut it in two.

“Oops,” said Hans.

Hans then walked over to the mill, disengaged the 48 Dodge Power Wagon Buzzsaw, and walked back.   Only problem with that the buzz saw slipped out of his hands on the way back and it rolled down the hill and cut Old Farmer Magnus in half (the top part survived).

 

Old Farmer Magnus

So Hans, knowing he was defeated, walked back to the giant and said…

“OK, you win.”

Then he lifted his arm to point the way to the village so the Giant could go destroy it.  But then a miracle happened.  The Giant fell to his knees gasping for breath, then went down all fours, then collapsed to the ground and died.

Hans looked at him, wondering what strange malady had befallen the giant.  He couldn’t understand it, but it was obvious wasn’t it?  When Hans lifted his arm to point the way to the village, the stench was so gross, so awful, that it felled the mighty giant.  Unfortunately for Hans, it felled everyone in the village as well, but that’s just the way it goes.

And that was the story of Sweaty Hans.

August 14

MAISIE BREAKS G-POP.   Aimee’s dad had this little case of tendonitis in his wrist.  So of course, this was Maisie’s cue to make cute faces and whiny noises so that G-Pop would have no choice but to pick her up, tendonitis and all.   Well, the wrist made a valiant effort but on the next to last day of their visit, G-Pop picked her up and something snapped.  The next morning G-Pop went for a walk and then turned up at the front door with a wrist brace and a hospital bill.  Maisie of course immediately started making more cute faces and whiny noises, knowing full well…

OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY MAISIE HAS ON HER SEARCH AND DESTROY LIST.

  1. Her Father’s Back
  2. Her Father’s Knees
  3. Her Father’s Torso

August 18

ROLLOVER.  Maisie has mastered just about every element in doing a complete 360-degree rollover.  The only part she hasn’t mastered is the part where she has to roll back over on her back.  So what typically happens, especially at night, is Maisie plans to execute a total 360, gets halfway around, suddenly realizes she’s on her stomach and begins to cry.  Usually there’s a stray right arm or something preventing her from rolling onto her back.  And as much as I’ve tried to teach her to tuck and roll, it’s still not quite sinking in.  So now when it’s the middle of the night, and you suddenly hear a blood-curdling cry, you know that the 173-degree roll over has struck again.

August 21

TYPES OF BABY FOOD NOW TAKING UP SPACE IN OUR CUPBOARD:  Sweet Potatoes, Pears, Peaches, Mangos, Peas and Brown Rice, Carrots, Rice and Lentil Dinner, and Oatmeal Flavored with Cardboard,  Gruel, Residual Grease, Dirt

August 24

CARROTS.  Maisie’s first encounter with carrots did not go well, as 70% of the carrots ended up on her plastic bib.  The other 30% were distributed between her chin, cheeks and forehead, the table and the August issue of Entertainment Weekly.  We will try again later but the overwhelming majority of public opinion seems to side with Maisie on the pureed carrots debate.  That they belong in the floor, not in the mouth.

August 29

FIRST FALL.  It’s the day that every parent dreads, but a day that is certain to come sooner or later—when your kid falls out of a chair, off the couch, hits the head on the table, takes a pretty mean tumble.  Well, it happened this morning.  I had placed Maisie in the swing that she was rapidly outgrowing while I got her car seat ready. I was clearing out the belts and stuffed animals, when I heard a heavy thud to my right and knew immediately that she had just officially outgrown the swing.   She lay on the ground, crying at the top of her lungs.  Feeling like the winner of the Dateline with Chris Matthews award for worst parenting, I picked her up and held her for five minutes  apologizing profusely.  She finally quit crying, but there was a bit of a scar on her head which stayed there the better part of the day.

SECOND FALL.  Came the very next day.  This time Aimee had to suffer through the trauma as Maisie went from couch to floor in about 2.7 seconds.  I wasn’t around for this particular tumble, but I think there may have been some advanced planning involved on Maisie’s part to include her mom as she didn’t want me to suffer alone.

THIRD FALL came a few days after that–she fell off the bed this time.  And even though she has hit the Fall Trifecta (swing, couch, bed), it seems that she has weathered the falls quite well.  No major bruises to speak of, but she has taken to roaming around the house asking, “Where’s George?”

September 2

SOMETHING LITTLE BRAT NEIGHBOR KIDS SAID WHILE crying for no reason during our visit to CAMANO ISLAND:

“We gave them biscuits and everything and they’re being jerks.”

 

Suck it, Little Kids From Camano Island.

September 8

POOP STORY #3,951.  I need to tell one more poop story, only because this particular poop was so all-encompassing.  Not only did Maisie get it on her pants, her leg and the bedsheet, she also got it on the pillowcase.

But wait, that’s not all.

Breaking all laws of poop physics, she also got it on the pillow inside the pillowcase.  How is this possible?  It appears her poop powers are superhuman, I mean how else do you explain getting past the diaper, the pant, the sheet, the pillowcase and onto the pillow.  Luckily it didn’t burn through the pillow and eat through the bed and the floor and downstairs and to the center of the earth.

PLANET FROM WHERE MAISIE’S POOP ORIGINATES.  The Planet Krypton.

September 10

BOUNCY HOUSE PARTY.  We took Maisie to a friend’s Chili-Cook-off party where they rented a bouncy house for all the kids.  A couple things happened during the party.

  1. One kid went into the bouncy house and took off all his clothes causing all the kids to run out of there leaving him alone jumping up and down naked.
  2. Maisie stood up by herself holding only her carriage.
  3. A little kid came over stood in from of me until I looked up, “I have a ball that makes noise,” he said.   “That’s nice,” I said, “Please keep your clothes on.”

September 17

Well, the Rainforest Jumperoo has outlived its usefulness.  Once a trusted parental ally that could keep Maisie occupied for at least a half hour, it has now become Maisie’s least favorite toy…even falling in ranking to below the vibrating frog chair.  Now when you lower her into it, all she does is cry.  Even the very action of stepping in the general direction of the Rainforest Jumperoo is enough to set her off.  Instead, she has become obsessed with reaching for things.  Like she stands at the coffee table and reaches for the TV remote and sticks it in her mouth.  This is all cute and everything, but it’s also fraught with peril.  I mean what happens if she somehow deprograms the remote, what the hell do we do then?

Maisie eating her foot in lieu of the TV remote

September 22

FOOD REPORT:  Maisie seemed to like plums, was tolerant of prunes, and judging by the sour look that came across her face, has black listed mangoes.  But she really does love the taste of oatmeal, although not as much as she loves the taste of plastic bibs and plastic spoons.

September 25

FOOD REPORT 2.  Maisie has also made it clear she does not care for the Sweet Potato and Chicken flavor of the Earth’s Best Baby food.   After reading the label I could see why, “At Earth’s Best, we use sweet potatoes that are only slightly bruised and the rear end bits from chickens that fart a lot.”

September 28

Mom went away on a spa and gambling bender with her girlfriends for a few days, and Maisie and I got some quality time together.  Wanting to introduce Maisie to the concept of snow on mountaintops and rushing rivers, we drove the North Cascades Highway hoping to find some roadside park where we could to sit and enjoy a baby formula lunch and some clean mountain air.  On discovering that somebody (namely me) forgot to pack a nipple, the fresh mountain air and roadside park were traded in for a WalMart parking lot in Mt. Vernon.  From there we had a nice view of the Dairy Queen, shopping carts and a ’63 Ford Panel Van with no windows.

October 2

With a bit of assistance, Maisie is now standing.  But standing with assistance only goes so far.     You can tell by her grunting and her DarthVader-like breathing, that she wants to WALK.  And no toy, no food, no diversion will take her mind off that.

Figuring that crawling might be a nice stepping stone to WALKING, we’ve been putting Maisie in a face-down crawling-friendly position.  But all that does is motivate her to go into skydive position– arms and legs up in the air, stomach on the ground, and no movement whatsoever

October 7

HALLOWEEN COSTUME.  After much deliberation, the Ghostbuster costume was officially discarded as being too labor intensive, while the Karl Marx costume was shown the door for not being easily recognizable (most people mistook it for Kenny Rogers before the bad facelift), so we settled on a Ladybug because it was actually cute as opposed to Karl Marx or Kenny Rogers and would make my Mother very happy.

The Best Halloween Costume Of Them All

OTHER COSTUMES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT.  Edith Piaf, Little Richard, La Z Boy Recliner, Professional Bowler, Mothra, Cher’s Forehead.

October 9

Maisie outgrows clothes on an hourly basis.  The pajamas that fit her the night before last are now two sizes too small, the onesie that fit yesterday is cutting off circulation.  So they all get relegated to the “too small” box, which is kind of like baby clothes purgatory.  Too small too wear, but not quite messed up enough to give away. These are a steadily growing number and it may not be too long before they rise up in rebellion.  Then you know what happens after that…they’ll all be suppressed by the newer clothes and all their leaders will be guillotined.

October 11

WE HAVE TOOTH.  Two little teeth have made their presence known through crying bouts, drooling sessions and hour-long periods of non-stop whining.  They look like two little breath mints glued to the bottom of her mouth.  And I believe their chomping power may be currently limited to pudding and pieces of paper.  Nonetheless, there have been a few evenings where we had to break out the cherry-flavored aspirin, but it worked like a charm.  I was out within ten minutes.

 

Doing hard time for eating the phone bill

NEXT WEEK:  MAISIE’S FIRST TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY.

 

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Month Number Six Or How Can Somebody That Small Take Up So Much Of The Bed

July 2

ZERO SOMETHING.  Maisie’s now five months old and entering what evidently is the self-flagellation period of childhood.  When she gets excited she brings her hands down like a wind-up monkey beating a drum.  Except that instead of a drum she beats herself in the stomach, her head, her father’s head.  She is also finding hair especially interesting, which is why she likes to pull on Aimee’s whenever she gets a chance.  This is understandable as it’s a whole lot more productive than trying to pull on mine.

July 4

I was kind of imagining things to come on our walk to the store today, explaining to Maisie what the Fourth of July is all about, and the conversation that will probably ensue:

ME:  The Fourth of July is when the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and it was read for the first time to a crowd in Philadelphia.

MAISIE:  And they called it the Fourth of July because they signed it on the Fourth of July?

ME:  Yes.  Well actually it may have been signed on the second or third of July.

MAISIE:  Then read to the crowd on the fourth of July?

ME:  Yes.  Well, maybe not.  They’re really not sure about that either.

MAISIE:  So we should be having the Fourth of July on the Third of July?

ME:  Well, yes.  Or the second.

MAISIE:  I’m confused.

ME:  Don’t worry, it will all make sense someday.

MAISIE:  And so when they signed the Declaration of Independence on the Second, Third or Fourth of July that’s when we became free.

ME:  Well, no, that didn’t happen until Cornwallis surrendered in Yorktown in 1781.

MAISIE:  And that’s when they lit the fireworks?

ME:  No, that didn’t happen until the War of 1812 and the British attacked Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  That’s when the Star Spangled Banner was written and the fireworks we set off are symbolic of the bombs bursting in air and the rockets red glare.

MAISIE:  You’re making this up as you go along.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  When I went through the check-out at Safeway, I smilingly rolled out with Maisie and the stroller and left the groceries behind.  Then I went across the street to Walgreen’s and did exactly the same thing.  Waiting for the day when I walk out with the groceries and stroller and leave Maisie behind.

 

The homing device that Maisie now wears in case she gets left at any retail stores.

SPIDER MAN.  Sometimes when sitting on my lap, Maisie poses in a Spider Man type of way, like she’s surveying the living room from some distant rooftop.  This never fails to inspire me to break out in the famous Saturday Morning Cartoon Song which we sing together…

Spider Man Spider Man

Your friendly neighborhood Spider Man

He’s a jerk, he’s got guts

He’s got radioactive nuts

Look Out Here Comes The Spider Man

(NOTE:  Lyrics are approximate)

July 6

Last night Maureen (Aunt ‘Tini) came over, and her and Aimee started planning for some dinner party next weekend.  I didn’t really listen much except after some discussion over what they should make, Maureen proudly boasted, “I now have a bagel.”

“Well, good for you.”

Maureen meant Barbecue.  Easy to understand how you could mix up bagel and barbecue.  Same way you might mix up cookie and malaria.

July 8

THE RAIN FOREST JUMPEROO.  To keep you updated on Maisie’s favorite toy collection, here’s the latest.  The Rainforest Jumperoo.  It’s a frog chair supported by three cables that allows a child to use their feet to jump up and down.  When the child jumps up and down, lights come on and music plays while animal noises come out at random intervals.  Around the Jumperoo are various “stations.”   One station has a baby elephant, a parrot, and a monkey hanging from a bar.  Below that station, there’s a caterpillar that lights up along with what I believe is a cockroach.  In the middle is a wheel of fortune with a mosquito, a parrot, a monkey, an elephant, and a hapless turtle that has been painted yellow with green polka-dots by some brat indigenous kids.  At another station is the sun, supported by a rainbow towering over a tiger that pops up over the foliage when a yellow button is pressed.  Then there’s a little bingo-ball-type cage where inside an alligator, centipede or gecko twirls around amid little balls.  Suspended from leaves are a frog that wears an expression like “Holy Crap, how did I get up here” and a special kind of parrot that has a head and three feathers but no body.  Below the parrot is a snail with a color wheel as a shell, and opposite the snail is a bee that hangs by a limp blue cord, which apparently in Fisher-Price land signifies that bees are second class citizens.

Now most babies in the Jumperoo jump nicely up and down, looking at the lights and playing at the different stations.  Maisie, on the other hand, jumps in a manner that, if she were not belted in, would shoot out of her chair and headlong into the ceiling.  When she jumps it’s like she has a personal vendetta against Rainforest Jumperoos everywhere and has taken it upon herself to do whatever she can to kill them.   BAM…BAM…BAM… I…HATE…YOU…RAINFOREST…JUMPEROO.

NEW PRODUCT BABY IDEAS:

  • The Graco Turbo Baby Stroller With Beer Or Bourbon Bottle Holder
  • Baby Chest Tattoo:  “My parents went to the t-shirt store and all I got was this baby.”

July 10

I’ve been starting to read other stories besides my own to Maisie and have found the plot lines of these books to actually be pretty intriguing and involving.  For example, one of her current favorites is Frog Gets Lost.  Here is my synopsis:

  1. Frog lives in pond
  2. Frog likes to bounce
  3. Frog bounces past two flowers and a talking caterpillar
  4. Frog gets too a little over-enthusiastic in his bouncing and gets lost
  5. Frog asks all the other creatures in the animal kingdom that can talk which way he needs to take to get home.
  6. All the other creatures in the animal kingdom that can talk offer no help.
  7. Frog stops bouncing, becomes suicidal
  8. Frog accidentally wanders by the two flowers originally introduced in Scene 3
  9. Frog recognizes the flowers and finds his way home.
  10. Frog reiterates the lesson from the story:  That if you ever come across any creatures in the animal kingdom that can talk, beat the crap out of them because they’re no help when you need them.

July 12

A landmark day.  Maisie ate her first real food (if you can call bananas mixed with formula real food).  She dove right in without any hesitation whatsoever proving that she is as finicky in her eating habits as her father is.

  • Maisie’s Official First Menu:  Begin with an amuse bouche of formula with a hint of banana followed by a light consumme of smashed and strained bananas with formula.  For entrée a banana and formula terrine with a light dusting of formula with a banana reduction.

July 13

"King Of The World."

Lately Maisie has been sleeping like she owns the world.  And the bed as well.

July 14

Maisie may also be obsessing slightly over her looks.  Every morning she pulls the mirror on her changing table close to her face.  Then after a while, she pulls it in for a closer view.  Then says to hell with it and pulls the whole thing on top of her.  Then holds on to it like it might float away weightlessly and she may never get to look at herself again.

Maisie admiring

Maisie taking a break from admiring

Maisie obsessing

July 15

Maisie may have a boyfriend.  We all went down to the Ballard Fish Festival (or some festival, it may have been fish, it may have been mollusks), and Colby and Chase DeBoer accompanied Maisie.   Maisie tends to smile and drool when she’s happy, and there was a lot of smiling and drooling while Colby was around.   Colby said afterward that he was going to marry Maisie.  I said fine, I told him, as long as he had Bud Light at the reception.

NOTE:  Colby may have competition since Maisie also smiles and drools when she sees a fork.

July 17

Maisie and I are sitting in the backyard today.  She’s on the ground picking blades of grass/bugs/dirt and I’m sitting on the lawn furniture writing about it.  Her hair is starting to come in, some days it looks like it might be blonde, other days it looks like it might be auburn.  On days when she gets a bath, it looks like it might be a bad used-car-salesman combover.

Now she has moved on from picking the grass and is now trying to eat her foot.  This is something she does a lot these days.  And after having my first taste of baby formula a few days ago, eating her foot makes all the sense in the world.

In fact, in a taste test among both parents and infants, feet were preferred by a 4 to 1 margin over the leading brands of formula.  In fact four out of five dentists recommend feet for their patients who drink formula.

July 18

I think we may have gotten a word the other day.  Was just lying around and Maisie said “Yeah” for no apparent reason.

July 25

MAISIE’S FIRST ROAD TRIP.  Once again the amazement measurement apparatus went off the charts when Maisie and I faced the Pacific Ocean for the first time and she watched the waves crash, the water rush in and the roar of the water crashing into the sand.  She took it all in looked around at the birds, and was very much one with her surroundings. Until a rogue wave came and introduced her still-developing world to the concept of cold, wet, sand-ridden underwear.  The usual meltdown followed but it was a different meltdown, one that was based in wonder…more like “what in the world just happened,” rather than “change my diaper now.”

Ocean good, surfers bad

Meltdown #2…

…occurred at the Tillamook Cheese factory after finishing the largest Grilled Cheese Sandwiches ever grilled.  After I got done explaining to Maisie the truth about cheese, that it came from rogue cows who didn’t want to make milk, her mother and grandmother made the big mistake of taking her into the Tillamook Cheese factory bathrooms where a deafeningly loud flushing toilet and decibel-shattering hair dryers lie in wait.  The flushing toilets were manageable but once the blow dryer’s 747-force engine was engaged, Maisie joined in with a wail that was louder than both getting the attention of her father, her grandfather and some motorcyclists outside.

So add industrial-strength hand dryers to the permanently-scarred-for-life list with surprise birthday parties and Celine Dion.

MELTDOWN #3

It was one of the most surreal sights I believe I have ever seen.  We pulled into Sand Dunes Frontier along the Oregon Dunes and there they were…nuns.  Nuns everywhere.  Nuns playing miniature golf, nuns riding dune buggies, nuns drinking Pepsi products.  Also playing miniature golf with the nuns were about 500 girls and they had all come to Sand Dunes Frontier in the school bus equivalent of a white panel van.  The girls were all wearing dresses that were either sewn by hand or K-Mart, and all looked to be regular active young girls (if regular active young girls wore hand-sewn dresses and walked around with a dull look in their eye).

Seeing an opportunity to simultaneously expose Maisie to cult religion and fun-based sand activities, we booked ourselves on the big sand wagon/truck for a ride into the dunes.  The first thing I noticed was that the seat belts had all been reclaimed from 1970 model cars.  We did our best to buckle up, then held Maisie close and headed out into the dunes with the Nuns and the Children Of The Damned.  Up one hill and down another we went, trusting our lives to a driver with three teeth and maybe half an eye.  The kids and the nuns seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Maisie seemed to like it as well, and we were all riding gaily with our hands in the air and offering prayers to God that Vern the driver’s good eye wasn’t the one covered by the patch.

“How old is your baby?” the younger nun sitting across from us asked.

“About six months,” Aimee answered.

“She’s very pretty.”

The nun smiled at us innocently, and we smiled back not knowing what her real intentions were.  For in Aimee’s arms was not a cute smiling six month old but rather one more mind to meld, one more body to clothe in cheaply made dresses.  So we weren’t quite ready when Agnes of God leaned over during a whiny Maisie moment, grabbed her from Aimee’s arms and pulled her close to her frock.

“Here, let me hold her.”

When Maisie let out a wail like she had been kidnapped by Hessians, this nun reacted by dropping a blanket over Maisie who was already deep within the dark frock.  Aimee and I were stunned, but Maisie knew Orthodox Christian trouble when she saw it and shot lasers from her eyes into the nun’s brains.  We gathered her up and ran for the car, making it there just in time before the other nuns gathered around and started rocking the Hyundai back and forth Detroit-style.  Flooring it out of the parking lot, we looked back to see the nuns and the 500 children waving their fists at us while simultaneously checking each other’s hemlines.

Maisie and Soccer Ball, for no apparent reason

 

 

 

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Month Number Five or Some Basic Truths And Maybe One That I Made Up

June 1

It is of course important that Maisie gets a well-rounded education so I have supplemented her baseball viewing with European soccer viewing.

 

Maisie, like her father, doing something productive around the house.

When not obsessed with European soccer, Maisie seems to be obsessed with the outside.  We sit in the early morning and she stares out the window to the front yard, taking it all in:  the flowers outside, the passing cars, Larsen’s bakery down the block, the statue of Leif Ericson in Ballard, the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, the Palouse, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Great Plains, Wrigley Field, Lake Erie, Appalachians, New York, Original Ray’s Pizza, the other Original Ray’s Pizza, Ocean, Eiffel Tower, Uzbekistan, the Beijing McDonald’s in Dongxiakhouzhen, Ocean #2, the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, the statue of the gnome with his pants down in the back yard, she sees it all.

June 2

What is it about traveling on an airplane with a four month old that strikes fear into the hearts of parents?  It’s everything.  The meltdown in the parking shuttle, the tantrum in line at security, the bigger tantrum at the full body scanner, the bigger bigger tantrum when the kid two checkpoints over starts to melt down, the all-out wail when we try to eat, the screams when we try to check in her stroller…

Yeah, none of that happened.  She was perfect all the way, asleep, slumped over in her car seat like she shouldn’t have had that last bottle of baby formula.

June 4

COUSIN KYLE’S GRADUATION.

It became quickly apparent that this was not going to be a high school graduation ceremony that would go down in history for its brevity.  It was an hour and a half in and they were still introducing teachers, counselors and at least 250 “special guests,” all of whom had to be named individually.  These special guests were probably important, but at one point it seemed the administration of Madera High started inviting people off the street just so they could impress the other school districts with how many special guests they were able to invite.  Finally, after about another hour and a half, the students marched out.  Cousin Kyle walked by and gave us some type of cool kid salute, which I think was actually sign language for, “Ha ha, you’re stuck here until I get my diploma.”

Well, anyway it took about an hour more to get the kids, teachers and the special guests in their seats.  Then came the speeches.  OK, you can forgive the students for being corny, immature and not really all that funny because they’re, like, eighteen and still in those not-so-funny years.  But what is unforgivable is listening to the principal go on about all the “new fangled technology.”  OK, grandpa, now everybody in Madera knows you can’t operate an iPhone but your six year old can.

Following this, there were more presentation of scholarships, perfect attendance awards (aka the Lifelong Dork Award), and a song that was either “I still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” or “Hello Dolly” depending on which side of the stadium you were sitting.  So finally, three hours later, we finally get to the presentation of the diploma.  Now when I went to school, diplomas were given out in alphabetical order.  But Madera High does it differently, they split the students up into different schools to make it seem more collegiate I guess.  So there’s like the School of Science and Technology, the School of Health and Humanities, the School of Liberal Arts and Chili Beans, the School of Hanging Around Bowling Alleys And Sitting On The Hood Of Parked Cars, etc.  Kyle was in the School of Farm Equipment and Practical Jokes That Involve Lunchmeat and thankfully was one of the first “Schools” to get their diploma.  Which was a good thing because according to my calculations (324 diplomas @ 5 seconds a diploma), the graduation would be over by June of 2013.  Just in time to start all over again.

 

Gerard Dou, 53, of Madera, was clean shaven when the graduation began.

BEST LINE OF THE EVENING.  One of my sisters saying that when Maisie graduates they’ll have to wheel us out in wheelchairs.

June 7

PARTY WITH THE RELATIVES.  Maisie got to meet my half of the gene pool today, as my sister had a sort of coming-out party for the Maiso.  Cousins, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, the guy who cleans the pool, they all were invited out to officially welcome Maisie into the family.   Which they did with open arms and Maisie returned the favor by welcoming them with a shirt that read, “Are these people really my relatives?”   Now as much as I would love to cheerfully paint my extended family and friends as a bunch of hillbillies with a total of fourteen teeth between them, they are all actually a decent bunch.  Sure things can get scary sometimes (especially when the older guests start wearing the baby clothes), but at least the knife fights, hair pulling and pig wrestling are kept to a minimum.  This was a nice pleasant afternoon spent by the pool eating pork brisket, passing the baby around and drinking Bud Light to the point of falling out of the patio chairs.

After this picture was taken, Maisie clocked Marty for stealing her hat.

June 9

BABY CLOTHES.  I’m not exactly sure who designs baby clothes, but I think the person that does might be a bit distracted.   One of Maisie’s outfits has small purple and pink flower patterns with the huge face of a bear slapped on the rear end for no apparent reason other than to call attention to the fact that babies have huge butts.  There’s another outfit Maisie has with small polka dots plastered all over it, and, with no apparent reason, half a flower stitched on to the side.  It was kind of like when the seamstress finished the pattern, he or she looked at it and said, “you know what this outfit really needs is half a flower plastered on it.  Oh wait, look, there’s half a flower on the floor.”

 

Fig 1: A close cousin to the Purple And Pink Flower Pattern With Bear On Butt Pant: The Purple With Black Polka Dot Bear-On-Butt Pant

June 12

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS.  Maisie is now holding conversations with her mother, her father, her dolls, the ceiling, the light switch, etc.  They’re loud conversations and obviously important since it is common knowledge that the louder people talk, the more important whatever it is they have to say.  Maisie especially enjoys having these loud conversations at 6:30 in the morning in which seems to be giving out clear directives.  Like “Wor Pope Paw Mando Tye Pard” followed by that look that says you had better understand what I’m saying or I’m going to puke on both your shoulders just like last night.

NOTE:  We think Maisie is actually trying to form words, but it’s kind of tough to make it out when something that sounds like “Mommy” also sounds like “Mogedishu.”

June 14

GRADUATION UPDATE.  The School of Chemistry and Pants Zippers are currently receiving their diplomas.

June 15

WORTH EVERY PENNY.  There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning, walking into the bedroom and being greeted by the biggest, most cheerful smile in the world.  OK, a big stick of salami comes close, but still not quite the same.

Also better than zungenwurst.

June 17

UNCLE EARL.  A couple days ago, Uncle Earl stopped by to say hello to Maisie.  He showed up at the door with a six pack of PBR and a children’s book about The Cuban Missile Crisis (actually it wasn’t a children’s book but in Uncle Earl’s mind anything lying around his house that he’s already read and doesn’t have to buy qualifies as a children’s book).   Upon meeting Maisie, Earl opened one of the PBR’s and said “Why that is the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen in my life, let’s see if she likes beer.”  That was the first of many interventions we had to do over the next hour, but when Earl finally sped away in his Ford Taurus, there was only minimal damage in the form of some spilt beer and a couple new additions to Maisie’s swear vocabulary.

“Well, thank God, he only stayed an hour,” Aimee said.

“ Yeah, no kidding.  I do love your family but your uncle is crazy.”

“My uncle?  He’s not my uncle.  I thought he was your uncle.”

“What?”

Uncles Earl and Merle

June 19

FATHER’S DAY

This morning was my first Father’s Day ever as a father.

For me, Father’s Day was always one of those holidays that I figured I would never get to celebrate.  Kind of like Women’s Suffrage Day or Hannukah or Benjamin Harrison Day.  But the best laid plans for holiday non-observation often go astray.  So I was greeted this Father’s Day morning by Aimee carrying a couple Father’s Day Cards and something in a bag, and Maisie carrying two long packages of Nerds Rope like she was one of my childhood drunk neighbors ready to shoot guns into the night sky to celebrate Christmas.  She came over and banged me on the head with them, her way of saying, “Happy Father’s Day Daddy, enjoy your quart of sugar.”

Happy Father's Teeth Falling Out Soon Day.

June 20

NEW BEDTIME STORY FOR MAISIE STARRING A BRAND NEW ARCTIC TUNDRA ANIMAL INVENTED BY ME.

THE STORY OF THE BUTT OX.

In the Alaskan Tundra where the temperatures rarely get over freezing and the sun disappears sometimes for months, there is a small group of little known mammals known as the Butt Ox.  They are a member of the Bovidae family, and are close cousins to the Musk Ox.  But unlike the Musk Ox they do not emit a strong musky odor to attract females during the mating season.  Instead, they raise on their hind legs and extend their sizeable posteriors and move them around in a counter-clockwise circle.  Often times the ritual movement will be accompanied by a guttural sound in the throat not unlike the call of the Angus Boob Cat.  If the male Butt Ox is extremely aroused, the guttural sound will be accompanied by sudden and violent expulsions of gas from the posterior region, which is known in Inuit Circles as… Lhoutfarrhtstusaatsiarunnanngittualuujunga.  Lhoutfarrhts is untranslatable from Inuit to English, but tusaatsiarunnanngittaualuujunga translates literally to “from the Butt Ox.”  So some of the more assimilated Inuit tribes in the Arctic have married the two Inuit and English phrases and now refer to these audible Bovidaean sequences as “LhoutfarrhtsfromtheButtOx.”

OK, so maybe there wasn’t much of a story there, but like she’s going to remember any of it.

June 22

BABY LOGIC.  Here’s how Baby Logic works.  Say the Baby wants a pacifier, this is how it works in their mind when they see the pacifier.

  1. I want my pacifier…
  2. Therefore I’m going to grab my pacifier and throw it across the room.

Or if they’re really tired and want to go to sleep.

  1. I’m really tired and want to go to sleep…
  2. Therefore I’m going to scream and cry and keep myself awake.

Or if the baby is nearing capacity at feeding time.

  1. I’m starting to get full…
  2. Therefore I’m going to drink a bunch more until I vomit.

And that’s how it works.  Get used to it.

June 25

THE AMAZING REVERSIBLE BABY BIB/SUPER HERO CAPE.  Yet one more brilliant product idea to make us all rich…

Bib

Cape

June 25

As she gains more control over her hands and arms, I’ve found Maisie has found new ways to express herself.  If she likes something she will stick it in her mouth.  How much she likes it, depends on how far in she sticks it .  So you can easily make the assumption that she somewhat likes her stuffed giraffe or Hello Kitty doll but she really really likes the band attached to the pacifier, the box that the Julius stroller cards came in and my driver’s license.

P.S.  I do feel somewhat sorry for the giraffe in that he probably wasn’t expecting to lose his right ear when he first came to the house.

June 28

ROCK A BYE MAISIE.  Last night Maisie was cranky.  So I put her in her bed and turned on the “Rock A Bye Baby” jungle mobile music box thing above her crib.  Then I began to sing it to her.  As I was singing I thought to myself, “has anybody actually listened to the words of this song?”  Here’s the gist.  A kid in his cradle somehow ends up in a tree.  Breeze comes along which causes the cradle and kid up in the tree to rock precipitously.  Then suddenly the branch holding the cradle breaks off and kid and cradle plummet to the ground.

What the hell?  This is a lullaby?

So I did a bit of research and apparently back in the olden days, parents would hang babies in birch bark cradles from tree branches, which would allow the wind to rock them to sleep.   This may explain the origin of the song, but still doesn’t redeem the parents for sticking their kid up in a tree.

June 29

I believe they may just be halfway done at the Madera High School graduation but don’t quote me on that.

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Month Number Four or Another 15 Giant Cans Of Formula

May 2

PARENTAL TIP # 7  BABY BRAIN TEASERS

As the first few months of a baby’s life are probably the most important in relation to the development of the brain, I decided it would be a good idea to use some “brain teasers” to help augment Maisie’s development.  Here are a few I used–feel free to use them to help along your own four-month-old…

1.  Three times the width of a certain rectangle exceeds twice its length by three inches and four times its length is twelve more than its perimeter.  What are the dimensions of the rectangle?

2.  A rope rests on two platforms which are both inclined at an angle (which you are free to pick). The rope has uniform mass density, and its coefficient of friction with the platforms is 1. The system has left-right symmetry. What is the largest possible fraction of the rope that does not touch the platforms? What angle allows this maximum value?

3.  Throw N balls at random into B boxes. Let (a) be the average number of balls, N/B, in a box. Let P(x) be the probability that a given box has exactly x balls in it.

(a) Show that ax e−a P(x)≈ x! Certain assumptions are needed for this expression to be valid.  What are they?

(b) Show that if a is large, the above Poisson distribution essentially becomes a Gaussian distribution,

ax e−a      e−(x−a)2 /2a P(x)= x! ≈ √2πa .

May 3

THE STORY I MADE UP AND READ TO MAISIE ONE NIGHT IN LIEU OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

Why lookee here, you too can become a children’s book author just like Hans Christian Andersen or Shannon Doherty…

Once upon a time there was a horsefly.  This horsefly lived in Philadelphia in 1776 and resided in a barn that happened to be right across the street from the home of Jacob Graff.  Now this happened to be very convenient for the horsefly because Thomas Jefferson had rented a room in the Graff home to write the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.  And the horsefly just happened to be somebody who was loyal to the British Crown and not the revolution.

Yes, a loyalist horsefly.

Now when Jefferson began to write about truths being self-evident and such, the horsefly could see this was big trouble for him and his other loyalist horsefly cronies.  So he began to buzz Jefferson. First very lightly around the face.  Then he zeroed in on the nose, and then the ear.  Jefferson would get three or four words down on paper (maybe a “becomes destructive of these ends” or a “long train of abuses and usurpations”) then would have to stop to shoo the horsefly away.  This happened a good eight to nine times before Jefferson bolted up from his chair and screamed,

“You damndedable fly, I will have your head.”

Jefferson stalked the room with heavy horsefly-hating bible in hand, looking everywhere but finding nothing.  But little did Jefferson know the horsefly was hiding in his immense shock of red hair.  So when he sat down to continue his most essential assignment, he had not even gotten the fourth letter out when he heard the buzzing.

Thomas Jefferson and his "Blow Dry."

‘Bzzzzz.  Bzzzzzz.”

…coming from within his own head.

“Bzzzz.  Bzzzz.”

“I will show this foul horsefly who is the dominant species.”

Jefferson then picked up a small piece of wood that served as a paperweight and began to bash himself in the head with it.  He hit himself in the front part of the head, then the back part of his head, then the middle part, then the front part again, then over by the ear, then over by the temple, then finally when he didn’t hear anymore buzzing he put the piece of wood down and proclaimed.

“I have prevailed.  I have killed the horsefly.”

Pregnant pause.

“Bzzzzzz.”

The horsefly now seemed to be completely embedded in his ear.

“BZZZZZZZZ.”

Jefferson went back to his desk, more determined than ever.

“If I cannot kill the horsefly by the sword, then I shall kill the horsefly by the pen.”

Then Jefferson sat down and furiously inserted a new section into the Declaration of Independence of how all horseflies shall be “abolished and shunned to a place where they cannot reproduce and must live in Cruelty and Perfidy for a good long time.”

Then it happened.

The buzzing was gone.

It was amazing, a miracle really, at the exact moment when Jefferson finished that particular passage, the buzzing disappeared.  And all was quiet.  And Jefferson smiled to himself knowing that he had once again illustrated how the written word is a mighty weapon indeed.    Of course his head was one giant welt, but that’s beside the point.

Oh and if you’re wondering what happened to the horsefly section of the Declaration of Independence, it was edited out by Congress along with most of the grievances against Great Britain, Parliament and King George III.

Oh, and one other thing.  The average lifespan of a horsefly is about 30 days.  The one that attacked Jefferson, he was about 31.

May 5

MOWING THE LAWN WITH AN OLD LAWNMOWER.  I walked out into the backyard this morning and immediately saw that the lawn had achieved overnight full-on jungle status.  There was moss, weeds, dandelions, giant radioactive bugs, lost civilizations, lost yard furniture and some nice yellow flowers that probably weren’t supposed to be there.  Now me being mostly stubborn and mostly male, I steadfastly refuse to replace the rickety push mower that is 47 years old and rusted shut to the point where the blades only move when you kick them, and the blade wheel has frozen in the lowest position possible which makes cutting any grass bigger than a 1/32nd inch virtually impossible.  So as I do every year, I brought out the weed whacker and downed most of the standing trees, then fired up the push mower (i.e. kick) and spent the next two hours mowing a 6-foot by 9-foot patch of grass.   Like the crowds at Manassas, Aimee and Maisie come out to watch the spectacle–me throwing out the back out/pulling the arm out of the socket and giving me that “you are such an idiot” look.  It looks like my favorite lawnmower days may be numbered as I can survive one weathering glare, but two is another matter.  Will keep you posted.

The LawnAire 5000

May 6

This last week, Aimee’s brother Steve and his girlfriend/significant main squeeze Erika came to visit Maisie for the first time.  Preferring the family names Uncle Renegade and Aunt Kiwi (Erika’s from New Zealand and Steve has tattoos), both were won over by Maisie in about 1.7 seconds. Steve danced for Maisie’s amusement and did an incomparable job of bottle-feeding, Erika rocked Maisie to sleep and taught her how to say seven in Kiwi (see-ven).

One interesting little peculiarity that surfaced during their visit is that apparently in New Zealand, they use processed meats as terms of endearment.  “Sausage” became Maisie’s pet name with Erika.   Others that weren’t used but are still available for future visits are salami, liverwurst, bologna and mortadella.

I especially like Erika and Steve because, well, I like them.

And Erika likes to clean stuff.

May 8

Today is Mother’s Day, and Maisie did her due diligence in an obvious attempt to suck up to Mom.

 

Maisie, after apparently sneaking out to the Florist and the Old West Portrait Place

May 9

Over the last few days, Maisie has been raising her left arm in a fist…almost in defiance… and looking at it like it means something important.  Like “Go Ahead and Change My Diaper If You Dare” or “Baby Rights Now” or “The Class Struggle Necessarily Leads To The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat” or if she has a dirty diaper “Change Me Now, You Who Claim To Be My Parents” or if she doesn’t “Hell No I Won’t Go.”  Whatever the significance, she does jut the arm out like it’s some type of political statement.  Then stares at it for hours to reinforce the fact that she IS a baby with a cause.

Power To The Outstretched Arm

Anarchy On The Changing Table

Outstretched Arm Shall Not Sleep

May 9

The days don’t quite blur together, but they do kind of dissolve into one another and without realizing it, you unknowingly slip into the routines of babydom: feed every 3-4 hours, diaper change every 2-3 hours, burp after feed, wipe shirt after burp, boil water, mix formula, wash bottles, wipe slobber, misplace pacifier, put Maisie in swing, take Maisie out of the swing, etc.  And as a writer, you search for an ongoing plot line that would make for more cohesive reading but there isn’t one.  Aside from the meltdowns in the McDonald’s drive thrus, it’s really not page-turner material.  This is compounded by the everpresent haze that surrounds your head.   Because even on the nights when you do get enough sleep, it’s still not enough to make up for the three nights previous.  So there’s a lot of Night of the Living Dead quality time.

But on the other hand, you’ve got your mornings waking up to a bright, unconditional smile which breaks through the haze and renders a plot unnecessary.

May 11

SWADDLING BITES THE DUST.  It seemed that it was long past time to put the whole swaddling thing out to pasture since a) Maisie was spending half the night trying to get out of the swaddling which kind of defeated the purpose of helping her sleep, and b) I’m not sure if I ever did it correctly anyway.  So the swaddling blankets have been downsized to just regular blankets.

The other thing that’s happened in the last few days is Maisie has turned into a drooling machine.  She’ll just be sitting there looking content when BAM, 6 ounces of drool will come shooting out of her mouth soaking whatever she’s wearing and whatever her mother and father are wearing.  Because of this, our new name for her is Droolie.  Droolie Andrews.  I don’t think she likes it too much.

DROOL TANGENT.  We are also now conversing via spit.  Masie blows spit bubbles out of her mouth.  I answer back by blowing more spit bubbles.  On extremely emotional topics, she spits and drools at the same time to which I answer by spitting and drooling at the same time.  Upside of all this is by the end of our discussion, neither one of us have much drool left.

May 14

This afternoon I was putting Maisie down in her swinging chair to hopefully sleep.  The chair is one of those things that plays music and gently rocks from side to side while above her hang birds and dragonflies and rabbits and other zen items which she can gaze on, study and with which generally be enthralled.

Then I had this thought.  What if that wasn’t the case at all.  What if every time we put Maisie in the swing, it scares the crap out of her.  So basically while Aimee and I are thinking how much she loves her swing, inside Maisie is screaming, “AHHHH, OH MY GOD, NOT THE GIANT MONSTER BIRDS AND INSECTS AND RODENTS AGAIN.  THEY’RE GOING TO EAT ME.  GET ME OUT OF HERE.”

AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 17

We’re in full laughing mode these days as well.  Usually beginning with a slight giggle, then evolving into full-on hardy-har-hars.  And one of the best ways to get her going is to sing to her.  When her mother sings you can tell that she laughing out of pure innocent happiness, but with me it’s different.  With me, she’s not laughing out of enjoyment, she’s laughing obviously to fight the pain.

“Ha Ha you think I’m laughing because I enjoy your singing,” she says to herself.

“No I’m laughing because your singing is on a par or worse than Yoko Ono’s.  Ha Ha.”

“Ha Ha.  When you sing, dogs have to leave the neighborhood because it hurts their ears.  Ha Ha.”

“Ha Ha.  When you sing, ADT records it and uses it as a theft deterrent.  Ha Ha.”

“Ha Ha.  Your singing is so bad, it not only breaks glass.  It breaks gob.”

“Ha ha.  Gob is what glass is in its raw form before its blown if you didn’t get that last reference.  Ha Ha”

May 19

Yesterday I was sitting at the bar at Red Robin eating a burger when I got a text from Aimee saying that her and Maisie were listening to Aimee’s favorite band in college, They Might Be Giants.  Finding that to be somewhat adorable, I texted back an “Awwww” on the I-Phone.  Here’s what I didn’t realize.  When you type in “Awwww” on the I-Phone, the I-Phone automatically self-corrects it to “Sewers.”  So when Aimee told me that Maisie and her were listening to They Might Be Giants, my reply was… Sewers.

May 20

BABY TIP #74  SLEEPING THOUGH THE NIGHT

To help your baby sleep through the night try the following:

  • Play her any Rick Steves PBS Show
  • Repeat

May 21

This afternoon, Maisie giggled and giggled and laughed and laughed then fell asleep on my chest.  Sewers.

May 22

Aimee may be suffering from Post Pregnancy Brain.

First I told her I was meeting Alyssa on Thursday after work and reminded her that Alyssa was the daughter of a friend of mine from high school.  Then I told her not five minutes later that I was having lunch with Graham, a social media expert, who was a friend of Alyssa, to which Aimee responded…

“Who’s Alyssa?”

And this was after telling her that I was meeting Mary, my friend from Microsoft on Friday.  And I really wasn’t all that surprised when a couple hours later Aimee asked if I was meeting anybody after work on Friday.  And when I answered Mary you pretty much know what came next.

“Who’s Mary?”

“A friend of Alyssa’s,” I answered.

“Who’s Alyssa?”

I then had to re-educate her on Mary, Alyssa, how to use a fork, etc but was really taken aback by her next question.

“Whose baby is that?”

OK, so maybe it’s not that bad, but the running count on the Who Is Alyssa question is up to seven.  And that’s only since Monday.

THINGS THAT WILL WAKE A BABY UP AND MAKE HER CRY.

  1. Loud noises as in a door closing
  2. Alarm Clock
  3. Sneezing and Coughing
  4. A passing car
  5. Any talk of “going to bed.”
  6. An ant
  7. Loud Thinking
  8. Air

May 25

The last few days here in Seattle have been beautiful: sunshine, no rain, no clouds (I know, a sign the world is ending).  Maisie and her mother and myself have been in the backyard lying around on the grass like hippies, looking up at the sky and just kind of experiencing it all except without any of the trippy drugs or free love.  And I had another one of those amazing yet totally rational thoughts.  This is probably the first time Maisie has ever seen a sky with that deep, deep shade of blue.  I know I have danced around this point before, but it really hit me this afternoon.  How crazy it is that she is seeing her very first cobalt blue sky (and again considering we live in Seattle, I do mean her very first cobalt blue sky).

Then a bird flew across.

And that was the first time she had ever seen a bird fly across a sky that blue in that way.  Then I started paying attention to everything, looked at everything through uncorrupted glasses: the wind, rushing through the trees, the smell of grass, the ladybug landing on her leg, the weeds that will be there until Maisie is old enough to pull them.

What a concept.  Truly.  That there is a first time for everything, the first time that we see a color.  The first time we feel the wind.  Or hear is dog.  And I get to re-experience it all through her eyes.

I get it now.  What a gift.  What an unbelievably amazing gift.

Flower Child

May 28

Maisie is at that stage when she is almost getting control of her body movements.  Almost.  Watching her struggle, you can just hear the conversation that is going on between her brain and the rest of the body:

BRAIN:  Turn head to right.
BODY:  Right?  Which way is right?
BRAIN:  The opposite of the way you’re facing now.
BODY:  This way?
BRAIN:  No, that’s down.
BODY:  No it’s not.
BRAIN:  No, right is the opposite direction, turn that way.
BODY:  OK.
BRAIN:  That’s up.
BODY:  Oh.
BRAIN:  Tell you what, why don’t you just kind of bobble around for a while.

MAY 27

THE 90TH PERCENTILE.  The four-month check up was today.  And even though Maisie was on the doctor’s weight gain worry list at her first check-up, that problem has gone away.  Like long gone.  Like to the moon, Alice, gone.  She is now in the 90th percentile as far as her weight is concerned (or as pediatricians refer to it–the beer gut percentile).

“What?!,” you say.  90th percentile?  That’s like Biggest Loser territory isn’t it?  This can’t be.  You mean our little Maisie isn’t so little anymore?

Yup, Dr. Malaris couldn’t quite believe it either when she saw her.  But to our relief said it was nothing to worry about, as we don’t seem like “90th percentile people.”   She’s just a big old sturdy healthy kid.

Yup, just one big sturdy big boned 90th percentile kid.  Rock on.

SHOTS REPORT:  3 shots, same result, loud.

MAY 30

We are flying to California see my side of the family and have come to the another realization–that the days of last minute travel are now a thing of the past.  Our plane leaves Wednesday night.  Today is Monday.  If we leave now we should make it just in time.

Maisie posing with a picture of her real father.

 

 

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Month Number Three or Shouldn’t You Be Walking By Now

April 2

Here’s a narrative from this morning where I played the part of Maisie’s floppy bunny doll with big ears and she listened intently.  To get the full effect, imagine an evil French accent bunny voice…

Evil French Bunny

“Ha ha, you want to know why I have the big floppy ears.  Ho ho, so I can hit you softly in the head one after the other until you can’t take it anymore.  Ha Ha, I hit you again.  Now tell me where did you hide the pacifier with the soccer ball on it.  What you refuse to talk?  I hit you again, with my big floppy ears.  Boom and boom.  Now you shall tell me where is the pacifier or I will have to call in the stuffed fluffy green turtle with the crazy circular designs and his psychotic henchman.  You know him, the one only known as “Zebra.”

April 4

It was Grandpa’s birthday today and Maisie made her own sign then proceeded to waste film while we were out shopping for fruit.

Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Photo #5

April 5

I noticed today that one of Maisie’s outfits features lions, hippos, giraffes and toasters.  “That’s funny,” I thought to myself.  When I pointed this out to Aimee she immediately enlightened me that “those aren’t toasters, you idiot, they’re penguins.”

Oh.

April 8

MAISIE 1, BACK 0

This morning the 53-year-old in me struck back with feeling when my back twisted all to hell and halfway to Bakersfield trying to get Maisie’s car seat (with Maisie in it) into the back seat.  Typically this back thing only happens when I’m doing extraordinarily demanding activities like picking up a sock or getting out of bed, and the pain associated with those is usually pretty minor.  But this one…holy shit…it felt like somebody dropped a pallet of bulldozers followed by a dozen bridge supports on the small of my back.   And within seconds I went from fairly mobile 50-something adult to a 95-year-old invalid with bad breath in need of a walker.

So here’s the extent of my life over the last few days…

  • Sit with a Freez Pak (“just freeze and use over and over”) lodged between my sweat pants and my boxer shorts.
  • Lie wholly prone because even the act of watching TV hurts (more so than usual anyway).
  • And when Maisie does cry, walk over like an old blind leper in a Jesus Bible movie.

Yup, it’s never been quite this bad.

This morning I had to use the wall, the mattress, the door handle, the nightstand and a chair as leverage to just get out of the bed.  Then it took me ten minutes to walk over to the bathroom, five minutes to open the door, fifteen minutes to negotiate the step into the bathroom, and ten minutes to complain bitterly in front of the mirror. After that, I broke the rules and dropped three Aleve at once then lay face down on the bed waiting for one of my organs to shoot out of my butt because I went over the two per day Advil maximum.

Anyway I guess I always knew my kid would make me old.  But like this?  You’ve got to be kidding.  At least let me hurt my back teaching my kid how to field grounders.  Or ski double black diamonds.  Or throwing engine blocks into the neighbors yard.  Not by lifting a car seat.

Oh great, now the Freez Pak is leaking all over my sweats.

Vandy, before baby.

Vandy, after baby.

April 10

Today Aimee accused Maisie of going out to the backyard and digging up worms.  In her mind, how else do you account for the fact that Maisie always has dirt under her fingernails?   (I didn’t tell her that we’ve got a stash of dirt under the bed and pull it out to play when Aimee’s not around.)

April 12

BABY FASHION STATEMENT.   There are those who follow trends, and those who would rather set them.  Maisie is pushing infant fashion forward with the Pants Pulled Up Like Gomer Pyle look

"Where's my tallboy damn it?"

April 14

I believe we may have hit an all time record today for time delay between a baby’s mouth opening and a baby’s cry coming out of baby’s mouth opening.  It was a good five seconds which allowed Maisie to work up enough volume to let everyone in the neighborhood know that she was not happy with having the bottle of formula wrestled away from her so Dad could do some repositioning and not lose his arm due to a cutoff in blood circulation.

April 15

POSSIBLE WORRISOME TRAIT FOR LATER IN LIFE.  Maisie loves being neck-ed.  And that’s neck-ed as in “C’mon down to the lake, we’re gonna get neck-ed and go skinny dipping” or “Let’s get neck-ed like Elvis,” or “Look at me, I’m neck-ed on the changing table.”

April 17

In looking back over the last two and a half months, it is amazing how quickly Maisie has evolved from a disassociated feeding machine to a person.  This whole human being thing is starting to reveal itself in small ways, like her anticipation of being fed, smiling at the ridiculous behavior of her parents, watching in dismay as the Seattle Mariners’ season goes down the tubes and it’s only April.

It’s way past amazing.  Seeing a personality develop out of thin air, and witnessing how already little bits of manipulation are already creeping into her character (knowing that our little Maisie has and will have her parents exactly where she wants them).  I am both excited and saddened by this.  Saddened in that the phases of infancy last for about five seconds without so much of an afterthought/acknowledgement, but excited for all the inspired idiocy that is to come (family traditions I believe they’re called).  And also for the tears that will also come for whatever reason…falls, hunger, boys, wind changing direction…and the uncomplication of the consoling hugs that follow.

In fact, I can hear my daughter crying upstairs as I write this, and I can tell it is definitely now communication and not just some mysterious biological hereditary reaction.

Yup, that is for sure.  She is telling me to quit writing and get off my ass and come up there and feed her.

April 18

Working from home definitely has its advantages.  After finishing my work this morning, I went outside for a walk with Maisie and came across a sign tacked up on a telephone pole.  The sign read, “Stolen.  Pine Tree.  If anyone has any information, please call Ray at 206-623-0232.”  As I was reading, Ray himself walked up behind me…

“Yup, woke up one morning and it was gone.”

“Did you check around the neighborhood?” I asked.

“Sure did.  Nowhere to be seen.”

“Did you check the pawn shops anywhere?”

“What?”

“Pawn shops.  Somebody probably tried to fence it you know.  Probably looking for fertilizer money.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Or it might have just gone back to the forest on its own.  Pine trees do that you know.”

He walked away shrugging his head.

April 20

SMART CHILD REARING TIP #132

Give the birds and bees talk when they’re a couple months old so you don’t have to put yourself in any awkward positions when they get to eleven or twelve.  Of course it helps to have a couple visual aids so if you have a Barney or Hello Kitty doll close by feel free to use them to illustrate various “facts of life.”

Or maybe just wait ‘til they’re twelve.

April 21

WHEN I’M AWAY.  Every day it’s so exciting to come home and see what new thing Maisie is doing.  Like yesterday.  She was hitting herself in the head with her right arm.  And today she is hitting herself in the head with her left.  Couple days ago she hit me in the eye with her fist and got her Mom in the nose.   Then just yesterday she simultaneously pooped and hit me in the chin.

Coming home one day to find Maisie being attacked by Rocket Ships, Space Aliens, Planets and the Sun.

April 22

A PLAGUE OF ARM MOVEMENTS AND GUTTERAL UTTERANCES.  I have yet to accurately describe how Maisie sounds when she sleeps.   So here we go—it’s a wide variety of grunts, throat noises and shrieks mixed in with a couple of caterwauls punctuated by impressions of Tom Waits and Sling Blade.  Now imagine these sounds mixed with uncontrollable arm movements like a priest trying to give the sign of the cross after too much Ritalin or a rattled boxer throwing up a right jab, left hook and uppercut all at the same time or a symphony conductor putting the finishing touches on a speed metal version of Bach’s Fantasia And Fugue In C Minor.

I know she’ll get her muscle coordination under control soon but one of my fondest memories will be of her wayward arm unintentionally hitting her binky across the room then her waking up crying because her binky was all the way across the room.

April 24

AUNT ‘TINI’S BIRTHDAY or PERMANENTLY SCARRED FOR LIFE.  I’m sitting with Maisie right now, she’s dressed for Maureen’s surprise birthday party.  Or was.  Within two minutes, she had pulled off the tutu, lost the shoes and puked on her shirt.  I don’t think this was any reflection of Aunt ‘Tini, more a statement about having to get dressed up.

Once re-decked-out, we were off.  The drive over was fine, Maisie sat quietly in her car seat and did whatever babies do when they’re facing away from their parents in their car seats.  And we arrive well in time to all gather in the bedroom of Maureen’s boyfriend Ed and wait for Maureen to open the bedroom door at which point we will all jump out and yell “SURPRISE” after which the fun and frolic will ensue.   That was the plan, here is what actually happened.  Maureen opens the bedroom door, everyone yells surprise which not only surprises Maureen but scares the piss, crap, and whatever else is left out of Maisie (her mom thrusting her out at zero hour probably didn’t help matters any).  So Maisie howls and I mean HOWLS for about thirty seconds then settles down into a nice steady sob for the next two hours.   Everyone takes turns trying to settle her down but the damage had been done.

Maisie, before the tutu, shoes and wheels came off.

Oh well, at least there was tacos.

NOTE TO MAISIE’S FUTURE FRIENDS.  When she has a mysterious emotional meltdown at a surprise party, you’ll know why.

April 25

SMART THING FATHERS SHOULD DO.  When doing a handoff with your wife and you’re running late for the bar, always answer the question, “did you check her diaper lately?” with “Yes, there’s some formula in the refrigerator” and leave as quickly as possible

April 27

OUR FIRST WALK TOGETHER.  Today was the first warm day of the year (warm in Seattle usually meaning somewhere around 70 degrees), and it was a good enough reason for Maisie and I to go out for a walk together.  It was my usual walk, one I had done a thousand times alone or with Aimee.

But today was different.

Today I got to see things though Maisie’s eyes.  The first time ever seeing the sun (it is Seattle after all), the first time ever having a cool big dog come up and lick you, the first time ever having a stupid little dog come up and yap at you, the first time ever looking out over a clear blue Puget Sound over to the snow-clad Olympics fifty miles distant, the first time ever seeing the neighbor who likes to mow his lawn shirtless who should probably think twice about even stepping out of the shower shirtless.  The first smell of newly cut grass, the first feeling of sun on the face, the first sight of the strange woman in the pink hat who smells like an adult movie theater, and the first feeling that every element in the world is perfectly in place.

April 29

The Royal Wedding was today.  After receiving her invitation and taking note of the “hat etiquette,” Maisie dressed appropriately.

Her Royal Hatness

April 30

My e-mail communications have gotten much more interesting since Maisie showed up.  Even though it’s possible to type messages with one hand on a keyboard and support a baby with the other, it usually results in messages like the following:

Could yo please sen thralx to Peter by 100:0 AM. On the 7hf

You pu for maybe a beeer next Thuesday with D. Cupertino Frec h. x  s

O,pdy dyptpmh;u fodshtrr/   Sd s [inov tr;syopmd [tpgrddopms; ,u sfbovr od yp jp;r yjr vpitdr

 

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Month Number Two or How Many Times A Day Can One Use The Word “Poop.”

March 1, Morning

Now even though Maisie is only a month old I’m already giving the evil eye to would-be suitors.  Yeah, that’s right I caught a two-month-old looking her over and immediately let him know in no uncertain terms that anyone who wants to date my daughter first has to go through me.

Yeah, I could see what low-brow plans he had circling in his head.  Take Maisie to the Pre-School dance, flirt with her at the pediatrician, invite her over for some innocent strained bananas, then just up and leave her for some other six month old.  Yeah, I know your type Mr. Powder Blue Footsie With Ducks And Bears Embroidered On The Chest—love ‘em, leave ‘em, make em cry.  Well, you make my kid cry I’m coming after you.  Well, actually everything makes my kid cry at the moment, but I’m sure it’s all somehow Powder Blue Footsie’s fault.

Trouble

March 1, Evening

One of Maisie’s favorite grown up visitors is Maureen or Aunt ‘Tini as she is known in every bar around town (actually Aimee’s the only one who calls her that, we just tell Maisie the every bar in town story to create a favorable impression).   Aunt ‘Tini had probably the best advice for Maisie I have heard so far…

“Don’t get engaged until you have a job.  You hear that kid.”

Trying to throw off baby paparazzi and bad suitors

March 3

ABOUT MOTHERS-IN-LAW.  This is usually the part of the story where the husband/father goes off about his “in-laws,” especially his “mother-in-law” who did this and did that and stayed for a month one week yada yada yada like a bad nightclub comedian who has run out of material.  But my mother-in-law deserves the purple heart, medal of honor and the Little Orphan Annie Spy Decoder Ring for all she did in the line of duty this last month.  Ro (that’s short for Rosemary and not Robocop as I was originally led to believe by Cousin Bobby) did everything but remove asbestos in helping us make the transition from two lazy people to two lazy people with a kid.  She was there cooking just about every evening, cleaning the house, moving furniture, building cribs, lifting furniture, pulling drivers from burning automobiles, boiling water, making formula, holding the baby, watching the baby and freezing enough food to keep us in stir-fry for the next six months.   She just left to go back to Florida a couple days ago, and now it’s suddenly become clear that This Sporting Life is now forever gone and has been replaced by This Chained-To-The-Kid-At-The-Wrists-And-Ankles-Life.   What do you mean we have to actually plan ahead and keep schedules now?

ABOUT FATHERS-IN-LAWS.  Aimee’s dad and I can both personally attest that baby furniture from Costco weighs approximately the same as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

REAL DIRECTIONS ON THE SIDE OF A PACKAGE OF BABY FORMULA:

DIRECTIONS:  Mix 2 ounces of water with each spoonful of powder.  Do not mix 1 ounce of water with 1 spoonful of formula even though that makes the most sense at 3 A.M in the morning.  And it follows that if you mix 4 portions of powder with 4 ounces of water at 3 A.M. in the morning you spend the rest of the night not getting any sleep because you’re certain you’ve poisoned your daughter.  Dumb shit.

March 4

I’m sitting holding Maisie in my left hand and writing with my right.  It’s Friday afternoon at 3 P.M.  The living room has changed in the last few weeks.  There’s a stroller in front of the fireplace, next to it is a blue chair with a type of roll bar thing from which hang a green stuffed turtle, oblong yellow rings and an orange thing.   There’s a dirty pacifier on the corner of the table, two empty baby bottles, tissue, blanket.  In the corner is a crib and two oblong boxes next to it.  Near that is another chair.  This one swings and plays music—some of it recognizable, some of it not.

She’s asleep now.  But when she’s awake, it’s no longer just blank staring.  She sees–you can see her filing things away in her brain.  Like the lamp behind the couch, or the size of her father’s nose.

Then she falls asleep and dreams.  I watch her, study her.  Every facial expression, every emotion plays across her face in a matter of seconds.  Happy, sad, shocked, smiling, grimacing, crying, Elvis (this is when she raises the right side of her lip in a Presley scowl).  I try to imagine what she might be dreaming about–according to expression.  A white furry rabbit (smile) steals her pacifier (frown) and waves it in front of her face (angry).  A giant Cloud Being throws a Balpein hammer (happy) at the rabbit and hits him in the head.  The pacifier lands on the leaf of a Eucalyptus tree in the middle of the Antarctic (wonder) where Elvis Presley (scowl) retrieves it and returns it to its rightful owner (happy).

Or maybe it’s just a dream about a big giant boob.

March 5

I’ve always promised myself that I would do everything possible to shield my child from The Wiggles, Raffi, Barney, basically all bad children’s music in general.  So beginning today, Maisie and I are on a mission to keep questionable kiddie music at bay.   We mutually decided (mutually meaning I brought up the idea and she didn’t cry) to sit her in front of the stereo and play a classic album every couple days.  Figuring it might be better to break her in gently rather than diving head first into Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast, we broke out the first Beatles album (the British real version not the stupid American one).  Judging by her crying she wasn’t too fond of the songs “Boys” (sorry Ringo) and “Ask Me Why” but she smiled during “Please, Please Me” and “P.S. I Love You.”  However,  she must not have thought all that much of “There’s A Place” because that’s when she threw up.  All in all though, a good start.

"Run To The Hills, Run For Your Lives"

YET MORE ABOUT POOP.  There are few sights in the world as fear-inducing as seeing poop coming out of the sides of a diaper.  And today, Maisie broke the indoor poop record.  There was poop on her back, on her belly, down her leg, on her feet, and in other places that defied the laws of physics.

I have learned to deal with most poop situations, but this one was especially challenging.  Once the diaper was off and we could see the extent of the blow out, Aimee started to gag.  And that caused me to gag, which caused Maisie to gag.  So I of course did the prudent thing and called 911 immediately.

First Responder to Maisie's Giant Poop

ONE FINAL NOTE ABOUT POOP AND THEN I WILL NEVER BROACH THE SUBJECT AGAIN, PROMISE.  I never really used the word “poop” before, preferring the more descriptive and mature “shit.”  But having a baby does strange things to you.

March 6

Aimee thinks Maisie’s butt looks like the face of a sharpei.  Not sure if that reflects badly on the sharpei or Maisie’s butt, but it’s probably a fair assessment.  I don’t think they make baby butt implants, but will check Babies R Us next time I’m there.

CLOTHES.  Maisie now had more clothes than I ever owned in my life.  And most of them she wears two or three times then grows out of them.  Me, I’ve worn the same pair of jeans since high school.

March 7

Methods of soothing a crying baby are infinite, and this morning I got the opportunity to use all of them.  It was simply one of those mornings where Maisie had her mind set on crying and nothing was going to get in the way of that (especially the threats to sell Maisie to the gypsies, donate here to the Salvation Army or trade her in for soap).  The more the crying continued, the more my vocabulary degenerated…

“Awww, you got a tummy ache there kiddo?  Oh no, don’t cry little Maiso.  Why are you crying, you are the most beautiful peanut in the whole world.”

As the crying gets worse, you start repeating things six or seven times…

“Daddy doesn’t like it when you cry.  That’s right, Daddy doesn’t like it when you cry.  Did you know daddy doesn’t like it when you cry.  No daddy wants you to be happy, and crying makes daddy sad.  So when you’re sad, it makes daddy sad.  That’s right Daddy’s going to cry.”

Then you shake it up a little bit by throwing in a pet name.

“That’s right, daddy doesn’t like it when his little Q-Tip cries.”

When that doesn’t work you try another tactic…

“You know the world’s not going to end.  That’s right, the world’s not gonna end so you can stop crying.  That’s right, there’s no reason to cry.  Aww, what’s wrong with my little pumpkin.”

After reasoning fails, that’s when you resort to bribery…

“If you quit crying, Daddy will take you to Disneyland every year.  I’ll pay for college.  I’ll let you watch R-rated movies when you turn thirteen.  I won’t be overbearing.  I’ll buy you popcorn.  Just quit crying.  That’s right quit crying for daddy.”

And after that doesn’t work, you pull out the ace in the hole, the last resort, the cure-all, be-all, end-all to soothe a crying baby.  You begin speaking gibberish.

“Zabba dooby, baby, zippee, pee dippee.  That’s right, dooby dibby dabba, dabba, wooee, woo.  Wo’s the bawawawa  bawi waba, babo, babi.”

Of course in the end, all the kid needed was a bottle, but where’s the challenge in that.  Dawa doobie doobie.

March 8

Maisie met her aunts for the first time this last weekend.  Flying up from Fresno, California they were quickly taken in by her evil baby powers.  Within five minutes I realized that whenever more than two women come to visit I can expect to hold my kid for a grand total of 7-8 minutes every two days.  It is great, though, having them here because both Bonnie and Barbara were so excited to see the kid, they actually volunteer to change diapers.  This lasts usually until the first major blow-out, then they call for their younger brother to come take care of this mess because I have more recent experience with oversoiled diapers.  And because they’re older.

My niece Kristi also came down to meet the Maiso, and imparted much child-rearing advice from her 20 years of child-rearing (due to a mistake in accounting, my sisters are much older than I am, meaning my sister’s oldest Kristi, and my oldest Maisie are 40 years apart).  The most applicable advice was the burping-like-you-mean-it method or as it’s otherwise known like-you-are-trying-to-dislodge-the-esophagus method.  Then there was the tip to feed your entire supply of formula at one sitting so the kid will sleep through the night.  And part of the next day.  And into the following week.  Both worked like a charm.

  • KRISTI BABY TIP #6  Never pitch a baby more than 25 feet in the air or throw from the roof like a football.

March 9

One thing you learn in the process of having a kid is you become quite good at feeding with one hand and using the other hand to work the television remote.  Or eat.  Or write.  Or sign the National Anthem.   Operate a motor vehicle, make a bundt cake, build a log cabin, play the flute, build a nuclear reactor, send a missile to destroy China, etc.

March 11

On a personal note, this last month, it seems I have been doing nothing but meeting with lawyers.  Agency lawyers who are handling the agency closing, personal lawyers (who I actually like) who are making sure I don’t get screwed by other lawyers, lawyers that begat other lawyers.  Anyway the point here is that before Maisie was born there would have been nothing out of the ordinary about the way I dressed for said meetings…jeans, sweater, shoes, maybe a change of underwear.  But four weeks after she was born, things are definitely different…

I hope everyone in the lawyer meetings today enjoyed and appreciated the Hello Kitty band-aid that was wrapped around my index finger after cutting it on a crib box yesterday.

March 14

Today Maisie’s friend Oliveen called and asked if she was busy Tuesday afternoon.  But upon checking her calendar, I saw that Maisie had scheduled pooping between 2:00 and 3:00 that day.  So Oliveen had to reschedule.

FIRST FIRSTS.  Also today, we’re pretty sure we heard Maisie’s official first laugh.  And it came not while interacting with Mom and Dad, or talking to Grandma and Grandpa, or just checking out all the cool stuff we bought for her room.  No, it came while James Franco was cutting off his own leg in 127 Hours.  It was on cable.

THANK GOD I HAVE A BABY TO COME HOME TO DEPARTMENT.  Here are a list of things that have gone wrong since the first of the year:

  • Main client fired us
  • Closed the agency
  • Basement flooded
  • Ants showed up in the kitchen
  • Main client threatened lawsuit
  • Car ran out of gas
  • Smited with dreadful boils
  • Possessions all destroyed by a ruach
  • Plague of hail showed up shortly followed by locusts
  • Fire fell from heaven
  • Chaldeans attacked and carried away all the camels, etc.

March 16

I was playing with Maisie today.  Doing the baby talk again, pretending I was the voice of her stuffed Donkey/Nameless Animal…

“Hello Maisie, I’m Mr. Donkey.  I’m walking on your chest.”

Then I sang a little song:

I’m Mr Donkey

I ain’t no monkey

Cuz I’m a Donkey

Named Mr. Donkey.

Anyway in the middle of the donkey performance she looked from the donkey over to me with that innocent look that cuts right through everything sees everything perfectly.  For at least 30 seconds she just stared and you could see her mind working…

“What kind of idiot are you?  You’re 53 years old.  Act your age.”

Actually, I think she was just pissed because I lost one of her socks.

THE DONKEY SONG, VERSE 2

I’m Mr. Donkey

I ain’t no honky

Cuz I’m a Donkey

And was domesticated around 3000 BC

I then created a pretend reality TV show called Donkey Prison which she seemed to enjoy except for the TV-MA rating for crude indecent donkey language.

Fresh out of the slammer

March 20

Maisie has already outgrown her clothes after six weeks.  The purple and black striped onesie that makes her look like a crazed convict on her way to Grandma’s house no longer fits.  The one with the butterfly on her backside is now consigned to wiping up formula.  And the button up pink Guido sweatsuit no longer buttons and makes her look like a wife-beater with a pot belly.  Some of these she wore a grand total of two times.

Case in Point: The infamous Valentine's Day dress.

OTHER OUTGROWN CLOTHES CHECKLIST

  1. Long nightshirt onesie that has x’s and o’s all around
  2. The pink jacket and pants/sweatsuit with poodle.
  3. The oneside that has words like Magical, Love, Fairy Princess, and drawings of castle towers, carriages, crowns and hearts that ride up her butt and shows way too much skin.
  4. The yellow striped outfit that makes her look like a giant crazed bee.

March 24

BABY MASSAGE.  Maisie and her mom went to a Baby Massage class yesterday.  And while my mind was racing with visions of pampering, aroma therapy, oils and little baby masseuses, the reality was a far cry from that.  Like literally.  Far cry.  Far loud cry.  The first thing they did was sing nursery rhymes.  There are two things wrong with that.  If you’re two months old and have been promised a massage, the last thing you want to do is be made to sing some dumb song before getting the massage.  The other thing is Maisie hates that pattycake bakerman crap, she’s into Led Zeppelin, Dylan, Muse and Tom Jones damn it.

Anyway things didn’t improve after the nursery song fiasco.  After some token back massage, Little Frankie next to Maisie started to cry (this was OK, because he was giving Maisie the eye anyway), then that got Little Jennifer crying, then Little Edgar, then before you know it every Little baby in the room was wailing.  And Maisie’s just sitting there thinking to herself, “What the hell is this?!  I come down here for a relaxing massage, and I have to put up with all this racket.”  So she started crying too.  Everyone’s crying.  It’s now a Crying class.  Baby Massage 101 or How To Get Baby To Melt Down On The Spot.  I recommend it.

March 28

SHOTS DAY.  While getting Maisie ready for the two-month pediatrician check-up, it was hard not to feel like we were dressing her for the firing squad.  It was Shots Day and the conversation before leaving went something like this.

“OK, we’re going to the doctor’s today but you’re not going to like it.”

“Wah, waka.”

‘You’re going to get a shot and they’re going to hurt.”

“Ya ka ka.”

“Actually you’re getting three shots, and that’s going to hurt even more.”

“Yee Ya Ya.”

“So when you’re getting your shots and you’re crying at the top of your lungs, just remember this.  It’s…not…your…daddy’s…fault.”

“Gee ya.”

“It’s your mother’s.”

So we get to the doctor’s office and Maisie does the usual fussing during the weigh-in and fussing during the height measurement (this was all good by the way—in the 50th percentile, absolutely average).  Then the doctor checked Maisie over while Maisie fixated on the walls and the stethoscope and the blood pressure machine.

She had no idea what was coming.

With a shudder Nurse Ratchet burst in with the Hypodermics (OK, she was actually cute and blonde and her name was actually Vicki…Vicki Ratchet).  She laid out the instruments of torture on the bed while Maisie just kind of waved her arms and gurgled.  She smiled, looked at the nurse, smiled again…

Then just like that, her world of innocence was shattered.

All color simultaneously drained and rushed into her face, she opened her mouth so wide it looked like it had come off its hinges.  She let out a scream so loud and so milk-curdling that it shook the foundation of the Doctor’s office and the Taco Bell across the street.  That was followed by a louder scream.  And by the third scream it was like she had become her own little epicenter.  She braved it like a trooper, though.  Within ten seconds, she was down to a dull roar and in 20 seconds the blood pressure tester had regained her full attention.  But her bubble had still been broken, she now knew Doctor’s office pain and like every living adult, would fear it the rest of her life.

March 30

FIRST WORD.  I am not sure exactly what this signifies, but Maisie’s first official understandable word was “Ow.”  She was asleep when she uttered it, so she may not have actually meant Ow.  But it was the first recognizable thing she’s said since coming home from the hospital and proclaiming, “Why is this place such a mess.  Don’t you ever clean this dump.”

 

 

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The First Month or The Many Joys Of Sleep Deprivation

January 30

We are home now after six days in the hospital.  Three for induction, one for c-section, two for recovery.  As much as Aimee loved having a choice between red and green Jell-o, it is so nice to at least be exhausted at home, instead of exhausted at the hospital.  I have offered to poke and prod Aimee every twenty minutes to help with the transition, but she answered that waking up every three hours to breastfeed while dealing with the pain of the surgery while trying to think clearly through the Oxycontin while listening to Kenny G on hold at the pediatric clinic was torture enough.

Over the first three days she’s been in this world, Maisie has learned a number of things:

  1. That her parents tend to sleep at night, which is why she saves her loudest crying for between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 A.M.
  2. That the best time to let out a wail or a scream is within five minutes after her parents have nodded off.
  3. That she can basically get away with a) and b) by just lying around and looking angelic.

February 2

As of last night, Maisie and I have a new tradition.  Watching Californication on Showtime at 2 A.M.  She didn’t really get much out of it but there were some swear words and nudity for my entertainment.  However I had to strike a deal in the process.  She’s going to let me watch R-rated cable entertainment this one time, and in return I have to watch the Disney Channel for the next ten to twelve years.

February 4

Tomorrow is Maisie’s One Week Birthday.  Here is a summary of her first week:

  • Friday—born
  • Saturday—crapped pants, breastfed, cried, crapped pants again, slept, peed, cried, slept.
  • Sunday—cried, peed, slept, breastfed, cried, peed, crapped pants, slept, breastfed.
  • Monday—cried, crapped pants, peed, slept, cried, slept, cried, slept, breastfed, got tired of breastfed, cried, cried more.
  • Tuesday—slept, cried, crapped pants, cried, got tired of breastfeeding again, went to doctor, cried more, slept, given formula, waved arms in air, slept.
  • Wednesday–cried, cried loudly, peed, crapped, crapped and peed simultaneously, worked way out of swaddling, peed on swaddling, peed on clothes, cried.
  • Thursday—Slept, cried, crapped, peed, had operation on tongue, cried, looked spitefully at parents, cried, cried, cried and cried.

Maisie at her one week old birthday party belting out Tom Jones, "It's Not Unusual."

February 6

THE SUPPOSITORY EPISODE

  • BEFORE:  The past few days Maisie has had some bowel movement problems (in that she hasn’t had one), which now requires the use of a suppository.  Needless to say valuables have been stored in a safe place and the room has been covered in plastic.
  • AFTER:  Saying the suppository worked would be an understatement.  What came out was a shade of green only seen in dense colonies of radioactive seaweed and in volumes that had been until recently deemed physically impossible.

February 7

It’s fun messing with people.  Working out at my club today someone came up to me to congratulate me on having a baby.

“And are you getting any sleep?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, actually it hasn’t been that bad,” I answered.

“And how about Aimee, how’s she doing?”

“She’s here working out, you should go find her.”

“Really.  Where’s the baby?” you could see her mind racing.

“Oh she’s just at home hanging out.  You know once they reach four days they can basically take care of themselves.”

February 8

My friend Dan Branley was over today.  He has three boys.  They’re all very good kids but the youngest one seems to have a penchant for getting himself into trouble and collecting time-outs.  As was the case the evening before when Dan came home to find Caden in yet one more penalty box situation…this time for saying “Fudge You” to his mother.  Of course Caden felt he was wrongly accused and demonstrated this by standing up on the couch in defiance.  His mom, in turn, let Caden know that in no uncertain terms he was still in a time-out and to sit down, which prompted Caden to let his mother know that he was just “airing out his balls.”

Maisie cannot date Caden.

A NOTE ON DIAPER CHANGING.  Easy and simple when you’re changing a doll in baby class.  A little more complicated when the doll is crying and waving arms and legs like an epileptic turtle on its back sending ‘Poo” in all directions and screaming like someone just attached a joy buzzer to her butt.  But you soon figure it out–you learn to take the dirty diaper and wipe what’s left of any residue, use nice cold wipes to tidy up, then prepare for all out screaming bloody murder because newborns hate anything cold against that there area down there.  After clean up, you pull out a clean diaper and stare at the baby in disbelief as more “poo” comes out and covers the bedding where you shouldn’t be changing the diaper in the first place.

THE NEW AND IMPROVED PAMPERS WARNING SYSTEM

On each diaper there is a line, the color of the line tells you the following:

  • BLUE LINE–Clear
  • YELLOW LINE–Urine/Pee
  • BROWN LINE–Gas Mask.

February 12

ON FARTING AND OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS.

Oh my God.  My daughter has completely mastered the art of farting.  In fact, Maisie is sitting with me as I type this on the Mac, and apparently knowing the significance of poetic timing, ripped one just ten seconds ago.  This is no small couple-weeks-old girl cute baby fart that mothers just laugh about, this is a full on rip-the-pants, peel-the-paint Guinness-world-record gasser.  Which brings up the question how can something that weighs about 8 + ounces and wears cute outfits with flowers on the front and butterflies on the back fire off bombs that could decimate the armies of small countries or scatter campsites.    Now she’s crying like a banshee.  Apparently she hasn’t put two and two together quite yet, that those little butt-gifts of love are what causes the major cry-inducing stinky.  Hopefully she does learn that before she starts dating.

THE MANY MOODS OF MAISIE

Happy

Upset

Pensive

Angry

Ecstatic

Gaseous

February 15

Last night, I decided to start Maisie’s education early by reading the Declaration of Independence to her until she fell asleep.  The only downside to this idea is that I was the one that fell asleep and Maisie stayed awake all night looking at her feet.

February 17

Here is further proof that having a daughter has not interfered with the enjoyment I get out of messing with people.  Stopping at Safeway to pick up some salad dressing or bibs or something, I engaged in the following conversation with the person in front whose job apparently was to stand around and bother people with babies.

“Aw, what a cute baby.  Hello there darling, that’s right hello there darling, goo goo ga ga, you sure a cutie, yes you are, you sure are a cutie…”

After about five minutes of baby talk, the woman finally turned to me…

“Is she a girl?”

“Not sure, we’ll see how she does with a football then we’ll decide.”

February 21

There’s been a bit of a problem the past week that I didn’t really want to mention in hopes that it would just go away.  Maisie had not been gaining any weight since coming home from the hospital.  The doc was mildly concerned at first and wanted her to come in every couple days to get weighed.  She did gain a bit the first weigh-in (thanks to feeding her about every fifteen minutes), but on the second and third she continued to lose weight.  There was no panic, but there was a sudden understanding that not only the world revolves around your child but also the universe.  We tried everything to get her to eat.  Stripping her down, keeping the bottle in her mouth for hours, trying to fool her by keeping her mouth open with toothpicks.  After all that, we went with the only option left for immediate infant weight gain, we took her to the Old Country Buffet.  After discovering that there was no food station with breastmilk or formula and that she couldn’t lift a chicken thigh, we then shifted our attention to the nipples.

Bingo.

Apparently our daughter likes the cheap nipples, not the fancy upscale ones we bought at Babies R Us.   So we picked up a full supply of old Playtex bottles and nipples and now Maisie is a full-on milk-sucking Beast (her latest pet name) and officially off the Doc’s “Worry List.”

And all is right in the world and universe that revolves around her

February 24

Here, watching my daughter dream, lightly breathing in and out, kicking legs up every now and then in defiance of her swaddling, latching on to imaginary boobs almost makes me forget what a horrendously bad week this was.

Earlier I explained to Maisie that our biggest client at the agency had fired us, she responded by crying.  But I could tell by her crying “cues” that his was the usual cry for a bottle not a cry for the heads of the sons of bitches that fired us without even the courtesy of a phone call but rather doing it with a letter from their bottom feeding bastard-lawyers.  That aside, I have learned over the past few weeks how to identify her crying cues.

  1. Short stacatto cries and open mouth gaping for air—needs pacifier
  2. Long bird like shrill cries accompanied by chicken-like head bobs—needs bottle.
  3. Immediate cry with no build up then general fussiness—diaper needs changing.
  4. Long loud cries with no let up—wants head of the sons of bitches that fired us without even the courtesy of a phone call instead doing it with a letter from their bottom feeding bastard-lawyers.

SWADDLING

Here’s an easy shortcut I learned that will help you to swaddle your baby correctly:

  1. Take blanket, place in diamond formation.  Fold down just past where the head is.
  2. Take the left hand edge of the blanket and pull across baby so as to pin the left arm against the body and bring all the way over baby and tuck in underneath.
  3. Take bottom end of blanket and pull up near baby’s head and inset into other part of blanket like a toga.  Take the other part that’s not inserted and drag ¼ inch to the left and make an alpine butterfly knot.
  4. Now pull the remaining edge of the right hand of the blanket partly across the front of the baby, place thumb in middle of section roughly 3 1/5 inch from the baby’s head and turn 97 degrees to the left.  Then go up and under in a clockwise motion encircling the baby’s torso yet keeping section 2.3 away from the baby’s mouth and nose.  With the last 7 feet, use the Pythagorean Maneuver over the left side of the rib cage and tape rest of blanket to back of skull.

Maisie properly swaddled and taking a drag off her pacifier.

February 26

I’m trying to refrain from saying anything sarcastic about Aimee’s Breast-pumping Apparatus but it’s almost impossible not to look at it and be reminded of Madonna’s Vogue tour of 2005.

February 27

Is it scientifically possible for a baby to crap six times in two hours?

Yes, in fact, researchers have found that babies can crap for hours on end, especially between two and five in the morning when the father is on baby duty.

But something of interest—her poop is starting to smell of microwave popcorn.

Something more of interest—trying to control a steady stream of crap out of a baby’s butt with the tools available is like trying to control an oil slick with a handywipe.

Something even more of interest—Maisie is only three weeks old and the house is already a mess.

 

 

 

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Birth or Three Days Of Love, Peace And Jello.

January 26—January 28, 2011

I.

There are alarms galore in the hospital room.  First there are the alarms for the baby’s heart rate and all her vitals.  Then you got the alarms hooked up to Aimee to monitor her vitals as well as the I.V. levels.  Then there are the most important alarms of all—those attached to the refrigerator.  Tacked on to the door is an 8 ½ x 11” piece of paper: “Please do not turn off refrigerator alarm.  Notify staff.”  I guess this is in case anyone is thinking about swiping the RC Cola or the bottle of Squirt that’s in the fridge.  You have been warned.

It is Day Two of Inducement and it’s interesting that the idea behind this is you sit around and hope for intense pain.  But except for the episode with the I.V. needle and the regular cervix exams, it’s been only your basic discomfort mixed in with what Aimee calls an extreme case of gas.

THE MEDICAL DESCRIPTION FOR WHAT IS GOING ON AT THE MOMENT.  The pre-inducement drug Misoproxin that was administered yesterday functioned as kind of a warm up act for the Pitocin, which paves the way for the uterus to contract causing the baby to drop, which causes the uterus to contract which causes the baby to drop, which causes the uterus to contract, which causes the baby to drop, repeat endlessly…

The troublesome thing about all this is we’re not even to the hellaciously tired part yet and I’m already hellaciously tired.  Aimee’s past hellaciously and on to uninsufferably tired…

Time passes.

Conversation covers many things to distract from the process of contractions.  Sally, Aimee’s favorite nurse, talked of a friend’s kid in New Zealand who sent the following postcard to his mom, “Just got into car crash, totaled car, call you soon.”

Time passes.

Sally came in to do some procedure which involved sticking the arm up the you-know-what.  The purpose of this was to ping the baby on the head to make sure it was awake.  Yeah, awake and pissed off now.  I’m sure we’ll hear about this when Maisie is out, if I were Nurse Sally I’d watch my step.

Tick tock….

It is very slow going.

S    L    O    W

The pitocin and baby’s vitals have been monitored to make sure the baby doesn’t stress out as the uterus contracts.  And vice versa.

Tick…

We are currently in a holding pattern.  Pitocin is taking its sweet time on the inducing front.  But this is nothing out of the ordinary according to the OB doctors.  So the plan is to get some rest tonight and catch up on all my Dog The Bounty Hunter viewing.

Tock…

II.

It’s either Day Two or Day Three of Waiting for Maisie.  We are now close friends with the nurses here at Swedish Hospital Family Birthing Unit.  The room itself is nice for a hospital room, spacious, comfortable, with couch for husband (although it does feel like I’ve been living in a dorm room with an overly needy roommate).   There are pillows and blankets spread out, clothes tossed around, TV is on, sound is off, computers, phones and oatmeal here and there.  Discussions have ranged from who will Maisie will look like, if she will sleep through the night, pregnancy classes and Aimee’s father’s apparent new-found obsession with modern pop culture…namely Katy Perry and Katie Holmes.

Probably the most exciting thing to happen while hanging around the last few days waiting for the drugs to induce was the shower.  Or more to the point the lack of towels in the shower.  Or more to that point the lack of towels in the shower, or in the bathroom, or within a two mile radius of either.  And since I had just hopped out of the shower, boy was I surprised to hear Aimee’s doctor and two nurses talking with Aimee on the other side of the door.

I looked for a little hand towel to use to dry off.

Nothing.

Paper towels.

Nothing.

Blow Dryer.

Nope.

About the only thing I had at my disposal was hand sanitizer and toilet paper.  So I stood naked and enjoyed a nice air dry while the doctor started making small talk about the hospital parking garage and how there’s never anyone ever staffing the exit booth.

Then how good the restaurants are in Ballard.

Then about her kids.

Then her kids’ friends.

Then Aimee started talking about bagels in New York.

This was not going to end well.

III.

THE BIRTHING PARTNER PARADOX.  It’s funny with contractions.  You want them to happen, but then you don’t want to watch your wife suffer when they do happen.  But then you do want to want to watch your wife suffer because that means the contractions are getting stronger and baby’s on the way.

In between those paradoxical contractions I took a walk today.  I happened by a Vietnamese place with a large banner outside that read “Free Soft Drink served Allways.”  OK, I am always up for anything that’s free, so I walked in and apparently you only get the free soft drink always if you order some food.

“That’s not always,” I pointed out.

“It’s always if you order food,” the woman pointed out.

Oh.

By the way, I did have clothes on when I went out for my walk as the doctors and nurses did finally leave after restaurants, kids, bagels, and an in-depth review of the first season of the Real Housewives Of Atlanta.

IV.

LABOR.  Labor is kind of like the way combat is described.  Hours of intense boredom punctuated by seconds of sheer terror.  And that is only from my end.  I’m sure Aimee would describe it as hours of intense pain followed by minutes of sheerer more intense pain.  And coping with that pain is something every new Mother handles differently.  Here is how Aimee handled it.

V.

Afternoon, third day.  It’s quiet now.  Aimee is asleep.  Only sound is the baby’s heartbeat pinging like a dozen galloping little tiny horses.  I’m sitting in an uncomfortable blue chair in the corner of the room.  Aimee’s next to me.  The IV tower is next to Aimee.  A baby’s cry from next door filters through the walls.   I suddenly get an image in my head.  That moment when you’re standing on a bridge looking down to the rocks below just before you step off and hope the bungee cord doesn’t break.

There’s a bit of a motel room voyeurism element here at the birthing unit.   Walls seem to be a bit thin and goings-ons in the next rooms can easily be heard.  But in this case, you can be 94% sure that the screams of “OH MY GOD” are probably not faked.  Nor are the screams of “YOU DID THIS TO ME!”  or “WHY DOES HE LOOK LIKE THE MAILMAN?!”

By the way, contractions are getting more pronounced, more painful but Aimee is being a trooper, she wants to stick it out.  “No damn epidural,” she screams, “we’re Hypnobirthists!”

VI.

After the epidural, I reflected that it was probably the most painful thing I had ever experienced.  And I wasn’t even the one experiencing it.  It hurt so much to see Aimee in so much pain.  She is one of the most courageous people I’ve ever known.  Check that, all women who have ever given birth are the most courageous people I’ve ever known.  The next time I hear a group of women saying men have it so easy, I will not shake my head or say something snide.  I will buy them a drink because they are absolutely right.

Anyway the most helpless feeling in the world is watching your wife get an epidural and you not being able to do anything about it.  You kind of know that what’s coming isn’t so pleasant when a chair is brought out and placed backwards next to the bed, straps are produced and you’re asked if you have any chipped or broken teeth.  Plus there was the fact that the doctor who was giving the shot looked like she was just out of middle school.   Then you lean over the chair, and a needle the size of the state of Maine is inserted into your back.  I’m not sure exactly how long the whole procedure lasted but it was somewhere between ten minutes and four hours.  Aimee cried and cussed but she continued to focus and concentrate on anything besides giant spiked things.  I swear the three nurses gathered around (two to hold her down) kept looking back at the doctor with looks that did not inspire any confidence.  Thank God Aimee didn’t see them.  She just concentrated on yelling and screaming, I concentrated on consoling, we sweated together and took regular deep breaths until finally I heard those magic words, “Got it.”

Thank God.

Now for the next God knows how many hours it’s the Contraction and Cervix Dilation waiting game.   Waiting for the kid to get into position…but at least with the help of pain medication, it’s a much less stressful game to wait through.  This having a baby thing is endless.

VII.

Here it is now about ten minutes before pushing time.  Twelve hours after the epidural, the servix finally dilated to nine (it took about three days to go from one to four and about two hours to go from four to nine).  The nurses are clearing space for the doc and everything is strangely serene and peaceful.  It is still so surreal that in about two hours my days of complaining about obnoxious babies on airplanes will be at an end.  I will just smile sympathetically.

BTW, one of the best doctors in the history of Obstetricicticucs, Dr. Teresa Goepfert.  Sorry I called you Dr. Grapefruit.

VIII.

Pushing failed.  But there wasn’t the meltdown that went with the epidural episode, only the slow resignation that absolutely nothing was going (or by this point, went) the way Aimee wanted.  I felt for her.

And it was all my fault

Or to be more specific my big head’s fault.

Maisie has evidently inherited my huge bulbous head which has prevented her from making the trip downown.  See, for me it’s very hard to find hats that fit my head, and apparently for Maisie it’s very hard to find birth canals that fit hers.  So she is stuck.  Like a bingo ball too big for the airway.

So we head down the road toward the Last Resort.  Others look at it as a kind of a Candyland shortcut, but for us the C Section was all that was left.  We had already used up all the E-ticket birth options trying to avoid the dreaded C, but here we were.

The procedure is simultaneously scary yet comforting.  A quick combination of surgical Zorro moves, some pushing and pulling, rearranging of organs and a green curtain separating would-be parents from the dark secret world of the child snatchers on the other side.  Aimee doesn’t scream or cry or break down, only calmly describes the pulling and tearing as it’s happening (not bad for her very first ever surgical procedure).  We sit on this side of the green curtain, me in a chair, she on the table facing the ceiling with only her head showing.  It makes for a strange scene, the expectant father and the head of the expectant mother talking about the future.  And then it just kind of suddenly happens, the sound that signals the rend in time between past and present, old testament and new, after death and before Christ, after Beatles and before Wings.

A baby’s cry.

IX.

Oh God.  She is so beautiful.  Even covered in blood and mucousy birth goo, she is the most amazing, unbelievably gorgeous, crazily the cutest damn baby in the world.  And to prove that point I am including a photo that has not been retouched, photoshopped or brought from a stock photo house.  I am already in love.

 

Maisie "Not Stock Photo" Kindred

I am sitting in the dark, rocking my baby daughter on the first day of her life, looking out from the 5th floor window of Swedish Hospital onto a dark and shadowy Ballard.  She is angelic, and this is not just being prejudiced because it’s my first day of fatherhood and I’m caught up in the moment.  She’s just simply angelic, OK.

Everything went as expected with the C Section.  Maisie Melissa Kindred was born a healthy and happy (besides the banshee cries) at 5:54 P.M. on January 28, 2011.  The first people to be formally introduced to her were of course her parents, followed shortly by her grandparents, who, in one of the greatest thrills of my life, I was able to walk into the waiting room wearing my cool scrubs and ask…

“Are you ready to meet your granddaughter?”

 

 

(btw—there were two sets of grandparents there that day, two physically and two spiritually, all four were reported to be very happy indeed.)

 

 

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Getting Ready For Maisie or Preparing Thyself For Birth

June 10, 2010

It’s been a few weeks since we found out about our little bolt of lightning.  And according to my wife, she is now not only eating for two, but also cooking for two, sleeping for two, vacuuming for two, washing the dishes for two, pulling the weeds for two, lifting heavy objects for two, replacing the roof for two, mowing the lawn for two, rewiring the kitchen for two.

Me, I’m laying on the couch drinking beer for one, but have offered to help with light dusting.

June 14, 2010

I find myself now paying a little closer attention to baby conversations around the office.  Especially the melt down that Sydney Eichner had when her mother Jessica left the house this morning.  Or how Drew Lochmiller went into meltdown mode when Leslie decided it was time to change his sheets.  Or how Riley Nolan had a meltdown for basically no reason other then the fact that it was Wednesday.

June 19, 2010

Aimee has been comparing the size of the kid to pieces of fruit.  So I think the baby started out the size of a gnat (which actually isn’t a fruit but is still pretty small), then went to raisin, cherry, avocado, kumquat, plum, Kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and will ultimately arrive at watermelon or one of those huge tomatoes that James Whitmore used to grow with the radioactive fertilizer.

And here are the names we have settled on once the watermelon is born…

  • BOY:  Finn Jacob
  • GIRL:  Maisie Melissa
  • BOTH:  Trouble

July 1, 2010

IT’S A BOY.  NO, WAIT IT’S A GIRL.

There were about three people who were sure it was going to be a girl.  Aimee’s dad, my friend Annmarie and somebody from the dark side of Aimee’s family.  Everyone else was sure it was a boy…Aimee, Aimee’s friends, the psychic (lot of masculine energy she said), Aimee’s mom, and quite a few other people who shall go unnamed.

So it really wasn’t all that surprising at the ultrasound when we heard those seven magic words from the technician…

“That looks like a labia to me.”

We were both surprised and obviously elated.  But nothing compared to the one-man melee that erupted when Aimee’s dad found out–there was nobody in the Home Depot in Jupiter Beach Florida who didn’t know Art was getting a granddaughter.  I heard him screaming over the phone from about a hundred feet away, couldn’t help but hear him, it was wonderful.

This whole time of course Aimee had been calling the kid Finn.  As in “Finn, what are you doing to me?”  “This is all your fault Finn.”  “Finn, your father is not listening to us.”   Now I understand why Maisie always laid face down in the womb whenever the technician was trying to get a profile picture.

“Well, it’s no wonder.”  I said.  “You’ve been calling her a he all this time.  I would be pissed too.”

This still doesn’t change my plans.  I’m still going to make our little Maisie wear Barcelona soccer jerseys and AC/DC t-shirts.  I just have to gradually direct my hopes and dreams away from my kid becoming a global soccer star and point her in the direction of global music diva.  I really don’t care as long as she can buy her parents a huge house somewhere by a lake.

July 17, 2010

Aimee now speaks to her stomach more than she talks to any other living human being.  This is not in any way out of the ordinary, of course.  Except for the fact that I could have sworn her stomach answered her back one time.  There was, in fact, a point where I had suggested “Stomach” as a name for the kid but that was meant with about as much enthusiasm as my other suggested name, “Caligula.”  Anyway, about a week ago Aimee said in the direction of her stomach, “You kept me awake all night last night.”  And a small voice yelled back, “Oh yeah, just wait until I’m out of here.”

July 31, 2010

Kicking things is something that Maisie appears to do very well.   Once born, I may have to hone that skill and direct Maisie’s kicking talent towards people or vending machines that decide to cross me.  “This is my kid, Maisie,” I hear myself saying to lawyer Larry Sanderson, “Prepare to die.”  Maisie’s personality already seems to be leaning toward the not-to-be-messed-with side when she tried to kick the previously-mentioned lab technician through the womb.  That’s my kid.

August 4, 2010

Aimee is having second thoughts about her doctor.  I like him, he throws things around, makes me copy documents for him and has to constantly check his file because he can’t remember what he said the last appointment.  Plus he was once an astronaut.  This alone is sufficient reason to trust him as an obstetrician.  But he makes Aimee nervous, mainly by saying things like she should probably get her gall bladder out during one visit, then just kind of forgetting about it the next.  Or telling her it’s OK to fly to New York, then after returning from NY asking her “Who said it was OK for you to fly to New York?”  But he has delivered over 40,000 babies and has only misplaced like 15 or 20 of them.  That’s a pretty good percentage.  Did I tell you he’s an astronaut?

August 8, 2010

I asked one of the girls at the office if there was such a thing as In-the-womb pottee training.  They laughed.

August 18, 2010

I had thought that Aimee, not liking pain and being from the East Coast and all, would be a shoe-in for the epidural treatment.  But she has decided on the more natural and from what I can gather more-immense-pain way.  She has been meeting with mid-wives which when younger used to call to mind covens of cackling witches casting spells and spreading evil magic.  I don’t know why that image is still in my head but I’m sure it has something to do with a movie from my childhood.

BRAIN EATING MIDWIVES FROM HELL
Delivering Newborn Bundles of Evil.

September 10, 2010

Aimee said today that she thinks Maisie is going to be hairy like a gorilla when she’s born.  This little comment may come in handy later on when Maisie runs to her mother because daddy was mean or accidentally dropped a 40 oz. can of malt liquor on her foot.

October 2, 2010

Hypnobirthing. I have to admit the theory behind this does make sense.  It seems that dogs, horses, sheep, even certain “uncivilized” tribes deliver babies as easily as dropping off laundry.  You don’t hear screams of pain from a filly delivery a foal (or steady streams of obscenities damning horse spouses to lives spent in hell), and dogs seem to be able to give birth to six or seven pups while licking furniture.  So this woman in New England hypothesized that maybe we’re the ones responsible for the pain…all in the mind so to speak.  OK, I can buy into this.  So Hypnobirthing basically takes the principles of breathing from yoga, and relaxation from hypnotherapy and applies them to the ordeal of birth in order to relax the expectant mother and deliver a baby more along the lines of her Ubangi sisters.  So Aimee’s job is to learn to relax herself.  My job is much harder…to read lines like the following to calm her while she’s trying not to panic and verbally send me to the nether world:

“Picture a magnificent rainbow with each of the colors vibrating in harmony.”

“See yourself on a mist of soft almost peach like orange.  You and your body are in harmony with the orange.”

“You see warm light coming into your body and filling you up, giving you positive, loving energy, you are filled with joy.”

To these I’ve added one of my own.

“Picture a large can of beer that has been in an ice chest for an extended amount of time.  See yourself at the top of that beer peering into the liquid vastness before you.  You and your body are in harmony with the beer.  You dive in.  You feel the beer washing over you, filling you with energy and joy.  Then thirteen topless Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models show up and rub oil all over your body inviting…”

October 11, 2010

Aimee is now convinced our child will be black.  Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with this except both of us are white.  It did make for interesting conversation the other night over Bourbon Street Steak at Applebee’s.

  • ME:  So how can our child be black?
  • AIMEE:  Immaculate Conception.
  • ME:  By who?
  • AIMEE:  Shaft.

October 14, 2010

Today was movie day at Hypnobirthing Class–a quadruple feature of various couples utilizing the Hypnobirthing process.  The main goal in showing these short features was to illustrate how natural and painless and even peaceful the Hypnobirthing process can be.  So what you have is about five minute of woman lying in hospital bed, man stroking woman’s arm, woman resting peacefully.  Then there’s an edit and all hell breaks loose.  In 1931 when Frankenstein premiered in theatres, patrons were so horrified by what was on the screen, they ran out of theatres.  This was ten thousand times worse than Frankenstein.  This was The Exorcist with legs up.  To see a little baby, and various other items come tumbling into the world so matter of factly was just jarring.  And I know that birth is a beautiful thing, but I’m sorry, seeing it in newsreel form with zoom lens and Swedish Porn film quality, it’s more Ridley Scott, then gift from God.  Nonetheless by Hypnobirth #4, I had become used to the editing-for-shock-effect method and had almost come to take seeing a little head popping out an impossibly small opening in stride.  The best part about the whole thing, though, was Aimee was more grossed out then I was.  Oh well, she won’t have to worry, she’ll be on the pushing end.  And me, I’ll be operating from the part of the bed where I’ll have a birds eye view of the hand sanitizer.

THINGS THAT COME OUT THE BIRTH CANAL DURING BIRTH:

  1. Baby
  2. Amniotic Fluid
  3. Umbilical Cord
  4. Green Beans
  5. Placenta
  6. Toaster
  7. Roger Staubach

October 15, 2010

SUGGESTION FOR MAISIE MIDDLE NAME STRUCK DOWN BY WIFE:

“Of Arc”

October 18, 2010

IDEA OF THE DAY

There should be a World’s Strongest Baby competition where infants throw empty soda cans over walls instead of beer kegs, and lift grapefruits instead of drive trains.  Hosted by Baby Magnus Ver Magnuson.

November 15, 2010

Aimee is now showing to her relief.  Before she was worried that it looked as if she had only ate too many donuts.  And my friend Denise’s kid asked her if she got her clothes from the Pilgrims.

December 1, 2011

I am taking the holiday season off from writing or talking or thinking about the baby in order to concentrate on other things I need to panic about.

January 6. 2011

This Saturday we are going to the first of two day-long classes on childbirth and what to do when you bring the child home.  I’m sure that there will be some vital information imparted (which there had better be vital information imparted since the Seahawks-Saints playoff game is that afternoon.)  But I’m pretty sure when all is said and done, everything learned can be condensed to one conclusion:

  • Do whatever your wife tells you to do.

January 9, 2011

I had a few ideas on baby products that will make me rich.  Here they are…

BABY T-SHIRTS (according to age):

  • AGE 0-1:  University of Milk
  • AGE 1-2:  University of Strained Peas.
  • AGE 2-3:  University of Macaroni and Cheese.
  • AGE 3-?:  University of Talk Back To Your Parents.

    BABY MOOD RINGS.

    • If ring is Blue, it means baby is…                  Hungry
    • If ring is Black, it means baby is…                Hungry
    • If ring is White, it means baby is…               Hungry
    • If ring is Yellow, it means baby is…              Needs to shit

    January 11, 2011

    Well, Aimee is back in the OB camp again after the Midwives threw her out.  Appears her blood pressure is up, and the bile/enzyme readings from her liver are worrisome.  It is a precaution (more against malpractice lawyers than anything else), but it still means the pregnancy has been officially transferred over to the High Risk category.  The worry being that if bile gets into the amniotic fluid and into the baby, it could have dire consequences (the official name of the condition is Cholestasis, or Cholerastatsis, or Cocacolastasis).  Just writing this fills me with dread because as expectant fathers, we’re taught to play out the worst-case scenario and dwell on that for hours (at least that’s what the “Expectant Fathers Worst Case Scenario Class” taught us).  Of course the risk is “minimal” but where pregnant dads are concerned there is no such thing as risk that is “minimal”.  It’s just plain risk.  In other words, welcome to Obsession Central.

    But even as I’m lying awake at night doing my best obsessing, I have come to a realization.  That I am so in love and adore my daughter and I haven’t even met her yet.

    But that cholestasis thing, not so much.

    January 15, 2011.

    Took the class that teaches how to hold a baby, burp a baby, change diapers, swaddle, clothe, bathe, rock, not drop, etc.  So now I know how to hold, burp, change diapers, swaddle, clothe, bathe, rock, not drop a little black doll baby.

    January 16, 2011

    It was another school day on Sunday.  Basically the Bonehead Newborn Basics For Fathers Who Would Rather Be Watching The NFL Championships on CBS.  Once again hauling my sarcastic ass into a hospital conference room filled with couples 20 years my junior, I let ‘em have it.

    “Now what are the four things you have to have before bringing your baby home from the hospital?” the instructor asks the class.

    “Soccer Ball,” I shoot out before anyone else can answer.

    Aimee just stares at me.

    “OK, DVR.”

    More staring.

    I did find out the main thing you actually really truly under all circumstances on penalty of death need was a car seat.  Otherwise the hospital wouldn’t let you take your newborn home and instead keep him or her as a wall decoration.

    Actually I probably am as prepared as I ever will be for this.  I know that a baby crying can signal a number of things:  hungry, tired, overstimulated, lonely, in pain.  That breast milk is more healthy than formula, that you should wet a kid’s head before putting them in the bath so they can pee on your arm instead of in the tub.  That we will use somewhere between 70 to 80 diapers a week (and that’s on a good week), and if you want to calm a crying child hold them like a football and bounce them up and down.

    Or just find your wife.

    See, I’m all ready for fatherhood.

    January 20, 2011

    BABIES R US.

    I have spent more time in that store in the last week then I have in my whole lifetime.  Or any previous lifetimes.

    January 21, 2011

    Aimee is set to be induced on Wednesday.  It’s the Friday before.  It’s a bit strange to think that by this time next week, I’m going to be a father.  And that this major life-changing watershed paradigm universe-shifting event has a specific date and time and is scheduled like an appointment with the cable installer or the basement waterproofer (don’t ask).

    I keep thinking that it will work like this.  We leave the house on Wednesday morning and come back that evening with a kid.  Like a trip to Costco.  I’m sure I’ll get blindsided by all that fatherhood entails later, but for the moment I am so excited to meet my daughter.

    “Hello Maisie.  I’m your father.  Do what your mother says.”

    That will be our mantra in the years to come, I’m certain.  And it seems appropriate to start that long road of parenthood and friendship in cahoots with a wink and a half smile.  I love you already Maisie Melissa, safe travels.

     

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