Sunday, August 31, 2008

Black Plum, for Miriam

This morning, I churned and froze the Dark Chocolate Ice Cream from last night's fiasco. To be fair, it looked pretty good when I whisked it this morning, and it seemed to churn relatively smoothly, so it might not be a total disaster. We'll see when my Official Taster returns from running errands.

I've just finished the next batch. It's Black Plum Ice Cream, the vote of Miriam (she voted 3 times, which is allowed on the They-Did-It-In-New-York-In-1870-So-Why-Not-Now? rule). It looks great, though it's a shocking pink color. I got the recipe at Sweet Fine Day.

My alteration is that I didn't have any Creme de Cassis, because we don't usually keep berry flavored liqueur in the house. Instead, I used Grand Marnier, and we'll see how it turns out. Unlike last night's recipe, this one is admirably simple. Mr. Sweet Fine Day is a pastry chef, so it makes sense that his recipes aren't full of foolish twaddle.


Cut up a pound of black plums (skins on, weight is before cutting up but black plums have teensy pits so it's almost the same), heat with 1/2 cup of the likker for 10 minutes (med. heat. The idea is to poach them in the likker so they're soft). Turn off the heat, move off the burner, now do this:

Heat 1 cup of heavy cream. Whisk 2 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar until it's lovely (lighter, smooth-ish, etc.), then temper (add hot cream in a stream while whisking so you slowly bring up the temp of the eggs), then mix in the rest of the cream. The recipe does not call for further cooking of the custard, and when I tested it against the back of a spoon I saw that Mr. Sweet Fine Day was right. It was already coating the back (run your finger down the back of the wooden spoon - a nice clear line emerges, eh voila!).

Get out your blender. Put in the plum stuff, put in the cream stuff, blend it well. Cool it in a bowl, then chill it, then churn it in your machine, then freeze it hard.

Currently, we're at the "cool" stage, moving toward the "chill" stage. So we should have plum ice cream tonight.

Next flavors: Honey and Green Tea (not together).

While we're on the subject of ice cream, let me just say that I think I will end up buying David Lebovitz's book (The Perfect Scoop). I've tried about 5 of his recipes so far (all from online sources, including his blog) and they all worked like a charm. And they were easy. And they made sense. So I feel like I owe him $16.47, plus it seems to me that this is proof of his mastery of ice cream/sorbet.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Rant (Homage)

I really enjoy Use Real Butter, a food blog by Jen Yu. She lives in Colorado, is beating the crap out of cancer, and has a beautiful dog. Her photographs are to die for, as are her kitchen skills.

Last month, she joined a group called the Daring Bakers in making a hazelnut genoise. Sounds great, right? Except the recipe kind of sucked. She said so, in no uncertain terms. It was hilarious. So in her honor, and in the same vein:

Why the Sharffengerger Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe Is No Good:

1. It calls for 3.5 ounces of 62% bittersweet chocolate. That's one bar plus half an ounce. Nice.

2. The recipe says to whisk 4 egg yolks with 3/4 of a cup of sugar, then add 1/4cup plus 3 tablespoons of cocoa. Fine.

This is going to be the base of a custard. That means that after I mix them all up I'll need to add hot milk slowly to "temper" the custard. If I fail, I get scrambled eggs. The best way to avoid failure is to whisk constantly while streaming in a bit of hot milk.

Now, think about those proportions, dry to wet. They don't work. Sugar plus egg yolks works fine, you get just the sort of paste you'd want for tempering. Add the cocoa, though, and you get a totally unmanageable, thick goo that solidifies inside your balloon whisk so you cannot even stir, much less whisk.

Goodbye, keep it moving. Goodbye, proper tempering. Hello! Little flecks of scrambled eggs in the strainer. I couldn't even get it out with my spatula, or off the spatula once I ground some off the whisk.

3. The recipe calls for making a quick dark caramel. The quantities are: 2 tablespoons of sugar to 2 teaspoons of water.

You heat that on high and when it's dark brown you drizzle it into the warm chocolate custard mixture. I'm not sure what this is supposed to accomplish. At dark caramel, what you've got is basically hard-ball stage candy. It hits a cooler liquid and it...solidifies! Obviously.

So you're whisking in strings of hard candy. The recipe says "may need to strain." Uh, yeah. And you'll strain that caramel right out, genius. It will also stick to your spoon/spatula. It will also make such a tiny amount of caramel that you can't really get it out of your smallest pan, so it will be stuck to the sides requiring much soaking and one whole scrubby pad for cleaning.

The base looks not-so-good. It's cooling. Then I'll chill it. Then I'll churn it. Then I'll freeze it hard. Then, finally, after doing an entire double sink worth of dishes thanks to the enormous mess this travesty has created, I'll taste it.

Charles said, "Why not wait to rant until you taste it?" Becuase it's chocolate ice cream. Not an exotic flavor or even an unusual ingredient. I can buy it anytime I want. So how good will it have to be to justify all the effort and frustration? It had better be ambrosia.

From Hungry to Happy


A Solution to an Ancient Problem

The Saga of the Ice Cream Maker continues, this week with dark chocolate sorbet. The recipe comes from David Lebovitz, via Chocolate and Zucchini. Here it is:

550 ml water
2/3 cup packed Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup sugar

6 ounces of 70% cocoa dark chocolate (this is more than one bar, FYI), chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Directions: freeze the bowl for the ice cream maker (or, in our case, turn it on 5 minutes before you churn so it's frozen);

heat the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan until it's sort of boiling (bubbles will rise, and in my case it made a bizarre noise like there were marbles rolling around in the pan), whisking frequently;

Once at the "boil," take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds or so, then whisk so it all melts in. Lift up your whisk and see, because it will clump on the tip of the whisk and you'll have to bear down and rub it on the pan to get it to melt. Add vanilla and salt, stir;

Cool, then chill, then whisk to mix it again thoroughly, and freeze in your machine. It will stick to the dasher pretty good, so be prepared to scrape it off into your container, then pop it in the freezer to harden.

This tastes ok, but has a weird texture, when frozen but not yet hardened. Once hardened, it tastes like you took a good bar of dark chocolate and made frozen fudge out of it. It's really quite good indeed. Charles ate it as a condiment (!) on a bowl of mint ice cream and he thought that was an excellent use for it.

Of course, taking the photograph above demonstrated to me why people create food blogs. It's because after you take the picture, what are you going to do with that scoop of sorbet?? I mean, it's only an ounce (that's my teensy scoop)...I guess I'll have to...EAT IT!!!!!

So the Ancient Problem of: How do I justify eating dessert for breakfast? is solved.


This kid has us completely figured out.

Just now, I was feeding him his morning dose of gruel. Mmmm....gruel.

He kept trying to suck his toes, which is not a good idea while I'm shoveling gruel into his mouth (and nose). So I kept intercepting the foot. "Not now. When you're done eating."

Toward the end, he lifted one foot to his mouth, and I grabbed for it. Too late, I realized he'd lifted the other foot, too. While I grabbed the one, he smoothly shoved the other one into his (caked with gruel) mouth. Ha! Triumph.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Birth Survey

So Sara wanted to know what I said in the Birth Survey. The question boils down to: seeing as how your birth experience was Absolutely Horrible, did you tell the truth about that in the survey.

I agree that it would be better for everyone if women could get accurate information about what actually happens to other women during labor and birth. So I filled out the survey. But the answer to Sara's question is, essentially: no.

The Birth Survey didn't really allow me to tell my story fully. It asked a lot of questions (a lot - took me 30 minutes to finish it), but they focused quite carefully on what happened, to the exclusion of how it felt or how I reacted. They provided places to indicate that something was against my "wishes," but not to indicate that it didn't work.

And the real problem was that some of what they did to/for me didn't work. I was fine with the epidural. I asked for it. But when it stopped working, I didn't much like waiting for the anesthesiologist to come give me a little "bump" in the tube. The second time, when she was stuck in an emergency C-section and I got no pain remediation for a while (45 minutes? An hour and a half? Can't remember, thank God.) - I didn't like that one bit. The Birth Survey doesn't have any obvious place where you can say, "I elected to have an epidural, but I found that it was inconsistent and my hospital had only one anesthesiologist on duty and thus I fluctuated between periods of calm and total freakout which was definitely against my wishes."

The other thing that didn't work for me was the whole Push Out the Baby thing. Iain's head was 37 centimeters. Nurses came down the hall when he was born to see his feet (so big they overlapped the text on the card when the staff took his footprints) and his huge, Sputnik-like head.

That noggin caused me serious trouble. After 2 hours of trying to get him out, I ended up with a C-section. If you're counting, that's more than 30 hours after we came to the hospital, and a bit more than 21 hours after labor began. Joy. Did I mention that the epidural failed for a third time just before the C-section? So while waiting for them to take me there, I was also waiting for the anesthesiologist (again). By the time I reached the operating room, I was in pretty bad shape, and I don't remember much about the section. I certainly didn't have the experience you see on A Baby Story, where the mother kisses her baby and ten minutes later she's smiling at her husband while they bliss out.

Instead, I had the shakes. So bad, in fact, that after the nurses refused to help ("it's normal!"), I prevailed on Charles to lean against my legs and then my shoulders to physically restrain me so I could stop shaking. Then he fed me a cup of ice chips, since I hadn't eaten or drunk anything in a day.

Then he badgered the nurse until she realized that she'd hooked up the pain medication delivery machine incorrectly. It was delivering nothing. Zero. It took 15 minutes of patient questions for Charles to convince her that something was wrong. Since she wasn't a recovery-room nurse, the machine was new to her. She had to call upstairs to find someone to walk her through setting it up. Oops.

None of this really fit into any of the questions in the Birth Survey. I don't think that's what it's for. The way the survey is constructed suggests to me that its authors want to know the incidence of things like epidural, c-section, opiate use (not me, the one thing I avoided until after Iain was born), etc. Although they ask you whether you had good care from your OB, the nurses, the hospital, etc., there isn't a way to provide a nuanced answer.

And, in the end, I'm not sure what to say about any of it. This is not a huge city, and I knew there would be one anesthesiologist on duty. Did I begrudge the other mother her services during an emergency c-section? No way. Is it the doctors' fault that Iain was el-huge-o and got stuck? No.

So I'm not sure whether I ought to complain or whether this is just the kind of thing that happens. Except that thing with the pain machine. That was ridiculous. Thank God for Charles and his cross-examination skills.

I Got My Bob!

Look at me! Ready to go for a run, if only anyone in this family liked to run. But I've confirmed that I can bump up over the stairs in this puppy.

When the shade moves forward, the sun can shine on my head. Warm...good...

See how it gives me a soft sort of light - this is what I'll get the director to recreate when I'm the star of my first Oscar-worthy film. Of course, in that circumstance I won't sit around with my mouth hanging open. But that's another issue.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Iain's Cousin

Norton Von Snorten. The one and only.

Body Building

Soon, images like this one will be a thing of the past. Charles has been helping Iain to practice sitting up. He can manage to balance for about 20 seconds, then he flops over. Flop, prop, flop, repeat.
Today, after a flop, Charles said, "What are you going to do about that, son?" and Iain replied (using body language - ie, interpretive dance), "Why, I'm going to roll over, Esteemed Father." And he did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dialogue at Chez Iain

Charles: Hey, why don't you check the delivery status for our BOB?

Fiona: OK.

[time elapse: 3 hours while Fiona forgets, makes dinner, forgets, feeds baby, forgets, bathes baby, forgets, puts baby to bed, forgets, checks her email...]

Charles: Hey, why don't you check on the stroller?

Fiona: Ok.

Fiona: Huh.

Charles: What?

Fiona: "Delivered. 8-27-08."

Charles: Oh.

[Both go to front door. On porch is four foot by two foot box, in plain view.]

Charles and Fiona: These dogs are not doing their job.

The End.

Thank you. We'll be opening on Broadway in the spring.

Hey! I resemble that remark.

Look! Fame.


This didn't last, but it was nice for the 15 minutes. Today, he "napped" for 25 minutes three times. Finally, I strapped him to my chest with the Moby wrap, and he's been asleep since - 2.5 hours so far.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

High Chair? Check!

We chose the Mutsy Easy Grow High Chair, in grey, as you see here. The photo is from All Modern Furniture, but we got ours through because they have free shipping for orders over $99. We also had a coupon for 10% off, so that was helpful.
It's adjustable, has the tray, a support-y thing so he can sit in it right away, and comes in a good color. Yeah!

Leaps and Bounds

My precious...precious bottle. How I love youuuuuuuu....zzzzzz

Monday, August 25, 2008

OMG Callie!

The Bizzle clan has updated their circle about the many doings of the wondrous Callie, and let me tell you that child is getting cuter by exponential leaps.

Included in their post are two photos of our clan, at Reed Valley Orchard, which you can see below:

Iain and Callie, enjoying one another's company. Notice that Iain's wearing his pants like he's 84 years old. When this picture was taken, Callie had just finished supervising the picking of a couple of buckets of blueberries. She was allowing us a brief respite for peach slushies before sending us home to make her dinner.

Ice Cream This Week

This week's potential flavors:

1. Green Tea Ice Cream
2. Coffee Sorbet
3. Honey Ice Cream
4. Chocolate Sorbet
5. Black Plum Ice Cream

Votes? The polls are now open.

New Trick #1

Step 1: reach for item with both hands.

Step 2: Concentrate!! (drool if necessary)

Success! Now choose from the following options:

A) Fling onto floor, or

B) Taste.

[For those not familiar with Ale8, it is a soft-drink made in Winchester, Kentucky. It's like ginger ale mixed with cream soda - very tasty and fewer calories than most soda. Twice as much caffeine, though (which is AWESOME).]

[For those tempted to email this page to Ale8 and tell them how cute Iain is, be advised that their website contains an entire scrapbook of photos of people - including babies - with Ale8. The fans of this product are obsessive, so what you see here is nothing.]

Old Tricks, New (Funny, Cute, Disruptive) Tricks

1. Old Trick: bat at stuff with hands. Occasionally get lucky and snag something, then pull it out and stare at it meaningfully.
2. New Trick: Choose an object (like an Ale8 can), use both hands to reach for it. If successful, shove into mouth immediately to check for flavor. Otherwise, just toss on the floor. [Photos coming - blogspot is not letting me upload them at the moment.]

1. Old Trick: tracking the dogs with the eyes, noticing them in a vague sort of way.
2. New Trick: leaning toward the dogs, reaching out to pat their heads, stroke under their chins, or rub their fur (depending on where your uncontrolled paw ends up). Trying to lure them in so you can get nose-to-nose and have a stare-down. [No photos because I was too busy trying to keep Boris from licking Iain in the mouth.]
NOTE: this new trick is a symptom of a sad love triangle developing here. Boris loves Iain, Iain loves Juno, Juno loves Boris. It's like Days of Our Lives, but with dogs.

1. Old Trick: waking up in the middle of the night because of A) hunger, B) neurological immaturity, thus inability to sooth self to sleep, C) habit.
2. New Trick: waking up in the middle of the night due to having flipped onto your stomach, then shot your legs out the crib bars up to the crotch so that when you try to turn back over you can't. When re-positioned, doing it again. And again. Screaming. [no photos of this, because A) it happened in the middle of the night! and B) see A.]

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I don't read this blog regularly, but I came upon this entry and think it's worth sharing. The shots of the furoshiki available for sale in this shop are gorgeous. Furoshiki are squares of fabric that the Japanese traditionally use to wrap lunch, gifts of food, or things they're taking to the baths. Basically, it's a beautiful alternative to a plastic bag, and as the blog points out - you can take your picnic lunch in it, then sit on it while you eat!

You can buy them here:, which is also where I got the photo above.

Cute Drool

Last year, we got a Christmas card from an acquaintance. It was a photograph of her two sons, and they are pretty cute. But the younger one had a drooly chin.

So I, in all my smug glory, was all "That's gross. Why use a photo with drool? Why not clean him up and then take the picture?" and, of course: "I'll never do that."

I should really learn to shut up.

Iain drools a lot. I take 20-30 pictures and I go searching for the ones with no drool or invisible drool. But the drool's insidious. At first you're all, "Wipe it up!" and then you're all, "Well, it's just drool, not throw-up." and then you're all, "Drool's cute!"

We've reached Cute Drool. And I have, officially, lost my mind.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Shoes

Charcoal grey baby booties. Slip on. Called "Weebox." How could I resist? And at $1.50 in a baby re-sale store - why bother?

Uh, Dude. I think you're doing it wrong

What? It's not a hat?

The Birth Survey

This is a national project to collect information about birth experiences in the US. If you've had a baby in the last year, you can fill it out (this includes home births). You can rate your providers, explain what happened, and contribute to a database about American medical practices.
I think it's important, so I spent 30 minutes filling it out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Stroller - Check

We have purchased our new stroller. It's a BOB Revolution. Naturally, we had to have something called a Bob, since that keeps things in the family. Plus, we can amuse ourselves by saying things like, "Honey, can you get Bob out of the trunk?" Hyuk, hyuk.

The Bob is on sale right now at REI, 20% off, so we jumped on it despite the price and the fact that we could probably wait a few weeks before getting it. It will be best for Iain once he's sitting up unassisted, which he could do pretty soon. But he's terribly irritated by his carseat/stroller thing these days, and clearly wants to be able to see out more. The Bob will accomplish that.

It will also make walking with the stroller less irritating for Mommy. The Bob has one front wheel, so I'm hoping it will bump up over sidewalk cracks more easily. The design was intended for jogging - which we emphatically *don't* do - but reviews show it works well for walking on rough terrain.

What color, you ask? Black, of course. Don't be ridiculous.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Sooo good. Note sushi bib. We love it. Note eyes crossed to watch the spoon as it comes nearer.


Sometimes, the magic works:

And sometimes it don't:

So If you've got any succulents you desperately want to kill - just drop them by. I'm your girl.

Toes 4: When Toe-sicles Attack

Delicious. Especially when clad in socks, but pretty wonderful all alone.

What? You're going to pretend you don't suck your own toes? Please. Do I look like I was born yesterday?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I love summer. Tonight, for dinner, we had: pan-roasted chicken breast with carmelized onion, garlic, and braised carrots, sauteed snow peas, and sauteed yellow squash tossed with slow-roasted tomatoes and pesto. So good, so colorful, and it all took 30 minutes to make, start to finish. perhaps I should say...Yum-o.

But we're not the only ones who had a yummy dinner.

That's right kids: Iain had his first taste of actual food.

At the doctor's visit on Monday, we laid our sleep issues at Dr. Warner's feet and begged for wisdom from on high. He said, "give him some rice cereal." "Will that keep him from waking up in the middle of the night?" "No, but when he does you can let him cry himself back to sleep because you can be sure he's *not* hungry."

Worth a try, especially since it's not invasive or drugs or anything about which I would feel uncomfortable. Plus, Iain's been watching us quite intently at the table. He seems to understand what we're doing, in a vague sort of way, and to be curious about food.

So tonight we mixed 3 Tbs of milk with 1Tbs of rice cereal to make a very thin slurry. Baby 411 says you should put a little on the tongue and see what baby does. If he swallows it, you're good. If not, wait a week.

Iain opened his mouth, tasted that mushy stuff, and popped his eyebrows up like it was Christmas morning. You could all but read the brainwaves saying, "Holy Crap! What's that and where can I get some more?" Mouth open like a baby bird, he urged me to Shovel It In.

He ate it all. Well - not all. Right away, some started landing on his crotch, the table, his socks, and up his nose. Charles said, "Look, he's your son!" Thanks, honey. I feel the love. I'd estimate that 75% of it got into him.

Afterward, he needed a bath, but that's the routine anyway. Bath, then nursing, then a book, then sleepytime with the Blade Runner soundtrack. Good times.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I shouldn't sing. And I don't sing. Except a little.

One of my favorite children's books is Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban. Frances likes to sing, and her songs don't really sound like songs. Mostly, they express her opinions. For example, she sings:

When best friends have an outing,
There are jolly times in store.
There are games and there are prizes,
There is also something more.
There is something in a hamper,
That is very good to eat.
When best friends have an outing,
It's a very special treat.
With no boys.

I sing like that. I'd call it sing-song, except that the sentence "I sing-song like that" makes no sense.

For example, tonight I sang a song to Iain on the subject of him whizzing on me in the bath. It was a short song, but cheery.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dude, I'm a Redwood Tree!

Two weeks ago I emailed our pediatrician. [Emailing your pediatrician is so fabulous. This is what technology is all about.] The question was: Iain hasn't gained any weight for a month. I'm concerned. What do you think?

Dr. Warner said: Chill. And stop weighing him.

But I worried. Because he's a moose! And he should really be gaining weight! And what's the point of all this eating and drinking water and getting up in the middle of the night if he's not growing?

Of course, in Part 8000 of Why Babies and Dogs Aren't That Different (Random House, 2008), Iain started a growth spurt the very evening that I emailed the vet. I mean the doctor.

He ate like he was starving. He ate every 2 hours. All night. For more than a week. I was thinking, "You better grow, or else!"

So today we had our 4-month appointment. And I was waiting to hear that the Moose had gained some L.B.s.

When the nurse said, "14 pounds 5 ounces" I really thought I might cry. That's one ounce more than 2 weeks ago and 3 ounces more than 6 weeks ago. Where's all that food going?

Then she laid him out on the table to measure his height. She said: "Wow!" He grew 3 inches. He's 27 inches. He's in the 95 percentile for height. 2 more inches and he'll need a new carseat.

Whew! So that's where it's all going. He's no longer a Moose. Now, he's Stretch McGee. Long, long, long. And props to Sarah B. who said last weekend, "Gee, he seems really long." [She didn't really say "gee" nor does she say "golly" or "groovy," but you know - creative license.] She knows things.

Iain, of course, cared not a whit. As you can see below, he was all, "Whatevs. Got anything to eat?"

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Yesterday, Iain had a full shed-yool, as the Brits would say. Up before the sun (grr!), he began his day by taking Dad's car to the dealership for a recall repair. Then breakfast at Bob Evans, where the Little Man insisted on sitting in Mom's lap. Then it was off to Meijer for groceries, home for a snack, back out to the dealer to pick the car up, off to the Bowes' and from there to the Woodland Park Art Festival.

Afterward, Iain needed another snack (naturally), and a nap. But the night was young, and so was our hero.

So it was back to the Bowes' for dinner and socializing. Callie was, as always, in fine fettle. She's "cruising," mostly around the coffee table, and can crawl the way a certain Olympic swimmer can race. Fast, genius, fast.

She's cuter than cute, especially when that lower lip disappears.

Dinner was kind of disappointing. There was teriyaki salmon (grilled, with swordfish for Charles), summer veggies (asparagus, zucchini, red bell peppers), potato salad and yellow squash pie. But Iain got nothing, hence the disappointment. He feels that if the adults are going to eat all that, he should get something more than an ice cube touched against his little tongue. It just isn't fair.

Today proved calmer. Farmer's Market, then grocery store, then home for an afternoon of eating, screaming, peeing and - eventually - napping.

Napping on the grown-ups bed is the best:

But you need to hold on. Otherwise, you might fall off the side of the bed.

Whew! Some weekend. It'll be good to get back to the weekdays, when it's all just screaming, eating, and napping. All this stimulation wears a body out.

Asher: Absolutely Adorable

Fresh from the factory, and already pretty darn cute. Mom says he looks like his father, but since both parents are handsome specimens, I'll say he looks like both of them.

Here, of course, everyone's favorite time with any newborn. Sleep away, kiddo, mommy's tired. Daddy, from what I hear, is so excited he can't sleep anyway. "Hi! I have a son! Wanna see???" Congrats, Jack - oh, and you have throw-up on your shirt.

No child in Heather's family wears blue for long. It's orange, baby, starting as young as possible. If they make orange diapers, don't doubt for a second that he's wearing them. Pretty soon it'll be IPTAY and Death Valley and making a face whenever someone says, "Gamecock."

Asher has an older brother. Not just any older brother, of course. This child has been groomed by me from birth - shown the ways of the world and exposed to all that is good (especially at FAO Shwartz, RIP). At this very moment, Something Special is winging its way to Big Brother Number 1, though he knows it not.

Notice How BBN1 looks at Asher as if to say, "As soon as they realize that you cry and poop a lot, I'm totally off the hook, dude. Compared to you, I'm no trouble at all. Also, I can ride my bike and read, whereas your big accomplishment is eating. But I'll still be nice to you."

And, last, the art shot. This is the one that will go in his Oscar montage when he wins a lifetime achievement award.

P.S. Notice the hospital room behind BBN1. That brings back memories.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Things You Don't Want To Feel in the Dark

So it's 4:50am, and Iain's hungry. I feed him, despite my Soul-Deep Conviction that 4:50 am is not a time of day that human beings ought to witness. You could melt your face right off like in Indiana Jones. No, really.

He isn't that interested in going back to sleep at first, so I take him to the guest bed, where we've been hanging a lot in the early morning. I'm laying there, sort of half-awake, when I hear the most repulsive noise.

Suck, suck, gurgle, slurp, etc.

I reach over to see what's what, and hopefully discourage this behavior, and I feel...wet, cold cotton knit. Ewww. Soaking wet, kids, not "moist."

We're in a little bit of a loop here. Iain cannot fit into footed sleepers because he's too long. So he sleeps in onesies. The are usually long-sleeved so that he doesn't get cold in the night. But his feet get cold, so we put him in socks.

Except that now he's sucking on his feet through the socks. So the whole, "socks will keep your feet warm" thing isn't going to work because they'll be wet, which means cold, which means an Awake Baby. Bad times.

Also bad times: pulling wet spitty socks off a baby in the dark at 5:10am.

Friday, August 15, 2008


In the article Charles linked to below (the one about how children won't make you happy), the author suggests that 19th-century children worked - therefore people liked them better. (yeah, like the ones who worked selling kindling on the streets of New York because otherwise their families would starve. Like them?) The next sentence says that today, by contrast, we have children for emotional satisfaction. The implication is that since 19th-century folks didn't much love their kids, and since their kids worked, parental satisfaction was higher.

Later, the author suggests that parents today are more anxious about child-rearing than ever before.

What a load of hoo-hah. On so many levels. (like - funeral rituals centered on children, whose mortality rate was massively higher in the 19th century, suggest a pretty serious emotional investment in children. But whatever. If you write for Newsweek you can just talk out your hiney all you want, apparently.).

So today I'm reading through Harper's Weekly from 1865, and I come on this item:


The “headaches” of early childhood are on the increase; medical men are more than ever alive to thefact that children are over-excited in the nursery, and,but too often, too early, and far too hard-worked in the school-room; they are “forced,” as gardeners would say,for too early exhibition in the drawing-room.

They passtoo much of their early life cramped into a sort of orderly,by drill-attained manners, utterly destructive of the sweetest, most healthy characteristics of true children. Forever, from the earliest moment they can be taught anything, they are bidden “not to be rude, but to behave pretty,” as if, in real truth, the prettiest feature of child life was not a sort of rudeness—the exuberance of real child nature.

Martyrs to the vanity of our day, they are limb-hampered by the folly which makes them mere dollsfor the exhibition of their dresses and the ingenuity oftheir nurses in dressing their hair. Taught a deportmentin character with their costume, they become, but too often,vain little puppet imitations of men and women, all the winning artlessness proper to their age being thus forciblytaken from them; they strut about, pretty pictures, whenthey had far better be tumbling about with the abandonnatural to their age, but which would at once destroy the claim to that sort of prettiness their careful “get up”had given them.

This precocious training in the nursery has its fruit in that great amount of butterflyism of whichwe see so much in after-life, in those stately, artificial,variegated specimens of young-lady life of which everywatering-place gives such a cloud. Much real goodness is there in some of them; but there is the same sad sense of “out to be looked at” stamped upon their gait and adorning, only of an older kind, as that with which at from four to seven years of age they entered the drawing-room to visitors or the dining-room to dessert."
Harper's Weekly, January 28, 1865, p. 55.

Oh no! Turns out that Americans obsessed about their children even in the past. What? There was no golden age when things were happy, oh so happy? How disappointing.

I just hope we can avoid "butterflyism" in future.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Super Callie Fragilistic, Expialido-shus

First, let's all give it up for Callie's Mom. She's got it going on.

For proof, see below:

But Iain likes both of the Bowes ladies. Callie was looking especially fierce tonight. Check out her peanut shirt!

She's all, "Tyra who?" But you know she never misses America's Next Top Model.

OMG, ponies.*

* In case you're seriously out of touch, that's a phrase from cuteoverload. Check it out.

Other things no one tells you . . .

There is also a Devil Duckie®. We know this thanks to a professor friend of ours, who sent us the pirate version:

It comes with a theme song:

The Devil Ducky Theme Song!
Sung to the tune "Rubber Duckie"

Devil Ducky, you're the one,
You make bathtime lots of fun.
Devil Ducky I'm awfully dirty today.
(woh, woh, bee day!)

Devil Ducky, when you float,
It's like I'm bathing in a flaming moat!
Devil Ducky, you're my very best friend, hurray!
(Doo, doo, doo, dee day!)

Every day when I
Make my way to get clean
I find a little fella who's
Red and yellow and mean

Devil Ducky, you're so swell,
You guide me on the bath to hell,
Devil Ducky, I'm awfully dirty-
Devil Ducky, you're a naughty birdie-
Devil Ducky, I'm awfully dirty today.

Available from many vendors, in many styles, although the pirate is a good choice.

The Things No One Tells You

Here: you'll need these:

Rubber Ducky
Rubber Ducky, you're the one.
You make bath time lots of fun
Rubber Ducky, I'm awfully fond of you.

Rubber Ducky, joys of joys
When I squeak you, you make noise
Rubber Ducky, you're my very best friend, it's true!

Everyday when I make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who' cute, yellow, and chubby.

Rubber Ducky you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber Ducky, I'm awfully fond of you.

Everyday when I make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who's cute, yellow, and chubby.

Rubber Ducky, you're so fine
And I'm glad that you're mine
Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of...
Rubber Ducky I'd like a whole pond of . . .
Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of you.

Thanks, Sesame Street! Iain was getting tired of, "Rubber Ducky, you're so fine...hmm..hmmm..hmm..Rubber Ducky...uh..." etc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy or Satisfied? Should I only have one?

Yet more Newsweek. It must be the insomnia.

I read Stumbling on Happiness in Maine, thanks to our friend M.S. The warning about happiness and our current adventure was there. This article explores yet more on the same topic.

This article explores why one and done may be best. Don't let that 19th Century thinking rule your world.

What the experts don't know might drive you crazy

"As we reported in this story, we were struck by how clueless so many 'experts' in child development were about the new genetics—and how resistant they were to it. Almost all were unaware of the studies showing that genetics acts as a filter between environment and child, letting some influences in and keeping others out. 'Even the stuff published in the best journals ignores the underlying genetics,' says one leader in the field." Newsweek.

The entire article is worth a read. Bottom line: it doesn't always work like they say it will because some kids are different.

Welcome! Amazing Asher!

Yesterday, Heather and Jack welcomed their new son Asher to the world. Three weeks early and yet 7lbs 7oz.

Asher's arrival was sort of like the end of Air Force One, where Harrison Ford has to fight off the terrorists, then parachute to safety. Of course, Asher's older brother's birth was sort of like the end of I guess the little guy had it easy. But in any event, the point is: Congratulations to the tired, achy, drugged-up, anxious, and yet delighted parents.

So nice to have another boy on the team. What with Callie, Maddie, and Freddie, we were hip-deep in girls around here. When Little Mr. Frumin and Little Mr. Taylor arrive this fall we'll have quite a nice group for canasta. Or whatever young people do these days.

More Big People Chairs

Mid-century modern baby.

Iain is really getting pretty annoyed with his carseat. Until recently, he liked it a lot. He napped in it (mounted on the stroller frame), sat in it during dinner, and generally considered it his personal La-Z-Boy.

But these days he finds it too confining. He moves around a lot, which makes him slump down in the seat. Plus, he can't really see out the way he wants. Mostly, though, he's interested in sitting up. He can't sit himself up yet, or even hold himself up for long, but if propped in a corner he can sit for a long time in a chair. And he likes that.

So bye-bye carseat. Pretty soon you'll be as obsolete as the vibrating chair, the swing, and various other things Iain used to like but now finds jejune.

You know - like sleeping.

Iain likes to sit in the big people chairs

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's Just a Phase

The last week has been a trial. Iain has been growing, so he's waking up every 3 hours or so to eat. We're back to week 2, essentially. Except it's worse than that. At week 2, he slept a lot more.

Now, he wakes, screams, eats, falls asleep, then wakes immediately (as soon as you put him down), screams, and then continues to scream unless you hold him, walk, jiggle, and otherwise stay up all night. Sometimes he will sleep in the bed with us, but only if he can kick us repeatedly in the neck/chest/face.

[and don't say "why don't you just turn him so he can't?" Genius! Why didn't I think of that? Because he spins like a breakdancer and kicks again, my friend. He's Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo all night long.]

During the day, he's fairly normal, except that he doesn't want to nap but he gets tired and then he screams except he won't nap so he screams because he's tired but he won't nap get the idea. He will nap if I get out my Moby wrap (the blue thing featured in a previous post) and strap him to my chest like a tick. But then, of course, I'm toting 15 pounds around on my chest, which is wonderful for my back. And it's a teensy bit warm, too. At least he sleeps.

He's different at the buffet, too. He's all "I'M HUNGRY! FEED ME NOW OR ELSE!!" but then when the food is there he's all, "Whatevs." He'll eat a little, then lean back to make sure I'm watching him. Then go back for a little more, then lean back. Rinse. Repeat. Supposedly, they're better at eating at this stage so he can get a full meal faster, but I doubt anyone means this fast.

Anyway, I was tearing my hair out, Charles was thoroughly frustrated, things were bad. So I talked to my Mother about it. She was all "could you get someone to come keep him just a couple of afternoons a week so you can work?" and obviously I replied "WHAT? Are you crazy? Where would they keep him? Here in the house! So I'd hear him screaming, so then I couldn't work, so then WHAT'S THE POINT AND WHY SHOULD I PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE???? And anyway, the problem is at night aren'tyoulisteningtome????" If I was 16, this would be the part where I slam my bedroom door and start writing in my diary with a feather-topped pen about how No One Understands Me.

I'm super-rational.

So Mother sent me an email with this link. good. I feel so much better now. Super Mom strikes again. My one last question is: when do I get the Super Mom powers? So far...bupkus.
Here's Himself, sucking on his rattle/toy today, looking all innocent and cute and not at all like the Midnight Banshee:

Heroes - What Might Have Been

Read and view at your own risk. Deleted scenes, spoilers, etc.

Thanks I09.

Outside Nicer Than Usual

It was 90 degrees forever. Not really forever, but seemingly forever. A long time. And hot. Hot. Hot. But then a miracle occured. In August, in Kentucky, it suddenly dropped to a high of 81. For days. And days. Today? The high was forecast at 79!! I could be happier about this, but I'm not sure how.

So outside is suddenly much nicer than it was. For everyone.

When it's not hotter than the surface of the sun, even Dad consents to come outside sometimes.

Juno likes it all the time.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Doing a Lot of Looking (and some toe sucking)

No photographs of toe sucking, and definitely no audio. Because...ewww.